Sunday, October 15, 2006

The End of the NPT?

There is an excellent article on nuclear weapons proliferation ("Restraints Fray and Risks Grow as Nuclear Club Gains Members") on the front page of today's New York Times. William E. Broad and David J. Sanger provide some of the history of non-proliferation efforts and note that, in addition to the nine existing nuclear weapons states, "as many as 40 more countries have the technical skill, and in some cases the required material, to build a bomb."

Broad and Sanger generally concur with the pessimistic views regarding the future of the nuclear non-proliferation regime that I heard expressed two weeks ago at the ISA-West meeting by Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., former general counsel and acting director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Dr. William C. Potter, director of the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and Mary Beth Nitikin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Broad and Sanger write:

In March 1963, President John F. Kennedy said, "I am haunted by the feeling that by 1970, unless we are successful, there may be 10 nuclear powers instead of 4, and by 1975, 15 or 20." That timetable proved to be inaccurate. But in recent years there has been a sense around the globe that President Kennedy's prediction is about to come true, three decades late.

Unfortunately, the failure of the international community to head off North Korea's nuclear test or to impose costs on Pakistan for the actions of the A. Q. Khan operation has brought us to the point at which the benefits of acquiring nuclear weapons may be perceived as outweighing the costs.