How Divergent Views on Nuclear Disarmament Threaten the NPT

I saw another excellent piece today, this time by Alexander Kmentt, who is the Director of Disarmament, Arms Control, and Nonproliferation in the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs. It was published over at the Arms Control Association website as an opinion piece.

Kmentt discusses the very different ways in which nuclear weapon states on the one hand, and non-nuclear weapon states on the other, tend to view the issue of nuclear disarmament, both politically and legally.  He very usefully links the issues of nuclear disarmament and nuclear nonproliferation, and makes prescriptions particularly for nuclear weapon states to take this divergence of views, and its effect upon the credibility of the NPT, more seriously.  As he says:

Nuclear-weapon states may argue that proliferation is the only real challenge to the integrity of the NPT, whereas procrastination or slow progress on nuclear disarmament is not. This line of argument is self-serving and alarmingly shortsighted. In order to maintain global support for the NPT and the entire nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation regime and to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear-weapon states need to add much more credibility to their own nuclear disarmament efforts. Through their own example, nuclear-weapon states have the prime responsibility to prevent proliferation, but they urgently need to realize that, in the final analysis, they cannot have it both ways. The alternative would be an irreparable undermining of the NPT with the potential consequence of more and more actors seeking to develop nuclear weapons. The conclusion is clear: nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation efforts can only be achieved in parallel.

An excellent piece with which I agree completely.

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2 Comments on “How Divergent Views on Nuclear Disarmament Threaten the NPT”

  1. yousaf says:

    Jeff Knopf had a good piece in International Security:

    http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/ISEC_a_00109

    “Comparative assessment of the arguments on both sides suggests that signs of commitment to nuclear disarmament by the nuclear weapon states will tend to enhance support for nonproliferation. ”

    The 4 horsemen, George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn — also put it well: the “continued reliance on nuclear weapons as the principal element for deterrence is encouraging, or at least excusing, the spread of these weapons, and will inevitably erode the essential cooperation necessary to avoid proliferation.”

  2. Don Bacon says:

    Excellent.
    The nuclear powers: “Don’t worry about us, worry about those who might become like us.”

    Polls of Arabs who actually live in the Middle East show that the people are smarter than that. They fear US and Israel who have nukes, and not Iran which doesn’t.
    Seems obvious.

    So one feature of this Iran kerfuffle is that it distracts median attention away from the obvious, to the Western propaganda message. The State Department calls that “public diplomacy.” The Pentagon calls it “strategic communications.” Hermann Goering called it propaganda.

    The conclusion is clear: nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation efforts can only be achieved in parallel.

    But the US doesn’t support the Middle East nuclear-free zone, nor its own. Yet it goes nuts over Iran.


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