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HOME > TOPICS > The Nonproliferation Regime      
The Nonproliferation Regime

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) represents three basic bargains. The first is encapsulated in Articles One and Two of the treaty. They prohibit states with nuclear weapons from transferring them or the means to make them to states that lack nuclear weapons, and ban nonweapons states from acquiring them. The second NPT bargain is set forth in Articles Three, Four, and Six. These articles stipulate that the nuclear weapons states will negotiate in good faith to disarm and will share the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy with nonweapons states. In exchange, the nonweapons states pledge not to acquire nuclear weapons and to allow international inspections of their civilian nuclear facilities and materials to verify whether non-nuclear weapons states are in compliance with the treaty and are not diverting peaceful nuclear activities or materials to make nuclear weapons.

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May 14, 2013 Victor Gilinsky: Sometimes Major Violations of Nuclear Security Get Ignored
The traditional justification for accepting nuclear power activities around the world, despite their obvious technological overlap with military ones, is that they are covered by agreements restricting them to “peaceful uses,” and that any violations of these agreements would be detected in time by international inspectors or by national intelligence. The trouble is, even when solid information on violations is available early enough, the main countries on whose action international enforcement depends are sometimes reluctant to take needed action.
Occasional Papers & Monographs
May 06, 2013 Greg Jones: America's 1962 Reactor-Grade Plutonium Weapons Test Revisited
In 1977, the U.S. declassified the fact that in 1962 it had successfully tested a nuclear weapon using reactor-grade plutonium.  In 1994 additional information about this test was released.  Though on the face of it this test would seem to definitively settle the issue about whether reactor-grade plutonium can be used in nuclear weapons, ironically the specifics related to this nuclear test have generated some of the most controversy.  
Occasional Papers & Monographs
Mar 19, 2013 Henry Sokolski Book Review: Atoms for Peace: Catalyzing Bombs for Cheats
NPEC's executive director reviews Atomic Assistance: How "Atoms for Peace" Programs Cause Nuclear Insecurity, by Matthew Fuhrmann, in the March 2013 edition of The Nonproliferation Review.
Feb 12, 2013 National Review Online Posts NPEC Analysis, "After North Korea's Test: Slow the Nuclear Dominos"
Rather than support Tokyo’s and Seoul’s cravings to develop nuclear-weapons options, NPEC's executive director argues that the U.S. should explicitly waive the need for Japan and South Korea to secure any licenses to export their nuclear reactors if these two countries agree to a set of additional nonproliferation conditions, and put off recycling any U.S.-origin spent reactor fuel. Additionally, the U.S. should publicly call on China to join the U.S. and Russia in any further nuclear-weapons-reduction effort.  
Op-Eds & Blogs
Dec 17, 2012 Serious Rules for Nuclear Power without Proliferation (video)
Presentation at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies. 
Audio & Video
Sep 20, 2012 Gold Standard Letter to the President
NPEC signed a letter with other notables to President Obama expressing concern that the U.S. will not pursue the "Gold Standard" in negotiations for civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Jordan, Vietnam, and other non-nuclear-weapon states. The letter urges President Obama to require the "Gold Standard" in all future nuclear cooperation agreements with states that lack nuclear weapons.
Official Docs & Letters
Aug 02, 2012 Susan Voss: Tracking Nuclear Proliferation within a Commercial Power Program
As speculation rises about if and when Israel might strike Iran's nuclear program, it's worth considering how Iran got to where it is now with its program. Iran started in earnest with its nuclear efforts by initiating a nuclear power reactor construction program at Bushehr. Such "peaceful" projects are "bomb starter kits" in a number of ways. First, the reactors themselves can be used to make significant quantities of nuclear weapons-usable plutonium. Second, and easily as important in Iran's case, they can be used as covers to acquire the training, equipment, material, and technologies needed to do far more than boil water. This latter point is one that President Bill Clinton and Ambassador John Bolton both emphasized. Specifically, though, what does it mean? Attached is an NPEC working paper by Susan Voss, "Tracking Nuclear Proliferation within a Commercial Power Program," which tells the tale in critical detail. Ms. Voss, who was an analyst at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and is currently the President of the Global Nuclear Network Analysis, LLC, is one of the nation's top experts on Iran's civilian nuclear program and how Iran used it to acquire all that it needed to edge ever closer to acquiring nuclear weapons. It's quite revealing how brazen Iran was in using its program to secure Russian nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons-related technology and training in relative plain sight. By revealing and analyzing these transactions, Ms. Voss also spotlights what the intelligence requirements must be for any serious nonproliferation effort. This is an area we still need to work on.
Occasional Papers & Monographs
Jul 23, 2012 How Much Tighter Must the NPT Be?
When it comes to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), it is fashionable to argue that it needs "strengthening." The question, after the nuclear crises in Iran and North Korea and the opening of civilian nuclear trade with India, which never signed the NPT, is how much? Is the treaty in its current form sufficient to stem the proliferation threats of the next 10 to 30 years? If not, what reforms, if any, must it and its implementation undergo? NPEC and the Foreign Policy Initiative co-hosted a lunch seminar on Capitol Hill to present the answers from Victor Gilinsky, who authored "Serious Rules for Nuclear Power without Proliferation" with Henry Sokolski; Jamie Fly of the Foreign Policy Initiative, who worked on nuclear proliferation issues as a member of the Bush 43 National Security Council; and George Perkovich, who directs the Nuclear Policy Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. NPEC released the preliminary findings of its two-year project on nuclear nonproliferation policy, Nuclear Nonproliferation: Moving Beyond Pretense at the event.
Audio & Video
Jul 20, 2012 Victor Gilinsky: The NPT's Checkered Past: What Does it Suggest?
Victor Gilinsky's presentation for NPEC's July Dinner Seminar.
Jun 14, 2012 Patrick Roberts: Can IAEA Safeguards Work if Nuclear Power Grows?
NPEC recently commissioned a study, "How Well Will the IAEA Be Able to Safeguard More Nuclear Materials in More States?" by Patrick Roberts of Virginia Tech to examine the assumption that if the IAEA has proper access, it should be able to safeguard against diversions. Dr. Roberts has been studying the workings of the IAEA both here and overseas for nearly two years. His conclusion is that in many cases, IAEA safeguards may not be up to the task, and that the number of these occasions is likely to increase as nuclear plants are built in a larger number of countries unless fundamental reforms to the agency are made. Among his key recommendations are that the IAEA develop clearer performance metrics for its safeguards system, that the agency's authorities to inspect be increased, and that its safeguards efforts be backed not just with more resources, but with more predictable, firm enforcement measures by the United Nations Security Council.
Occasional Papers & Monographs
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The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC), is a 501 (c)3 nonpartisan, nonprofit, educational organization
founded in 1994 to promote a better understanding of strategic weapons proliferation issues. NPEC educates policymakers, journalists,
and university professors about proliferation threats and possible new policies and measures to meet them.
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