What if Americans were the ones without nuclear weapons and a well-stocked Iran was insisting that the US couldn’t have such weapons?
When most people talk of a world free of nuclear weapons, they generally focus discussion on the states that possess nuclear weapons. Ninety-five percent of the world, however, has decided not to pursue nuclear weapons, and they overwhelming view the bomb as inherently dangerous and destabilizing.
As Washington wrestles with several nuclear issues, it would be useful to view the nuclear issue from the perspective of countries who have never possessed, let alone used, nuclear weapons. The question for Americans to consider in that light is, what do nonnuclear weapon states want?
This month, the 189 countries party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 are meeting at United Nations headquarters for the NPT Review Conference. The conference, held every five years, aims to assess progress toward implementation of the NPT and to determine how the nonproliferation regime can be strengthened.
It provides these nonnuclear states with a global stage to articulate their agenda.
At the heart of the treaty, nonnuclear weapon states pledge not to develop or receive assistance in manufacturing nuclear weapons, and to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards to verify this. Nuclear weapon states pledge to provide support to nonnuclear weapon states for developing peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to … nuclear disarmament.”
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