Nuclear weapons, international security and the NPT

Lyon, Rod (2005) Nuclear weapons, international security and the NPT. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 59 4: 425-430. doi:10.1080/10357710500367224

Author Lyon, Rod
Title Nuclear weapons, international security and the NPT
Journal name Australian Journal of International Affairs   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1035-7718
Publication date 2005-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/10357710500367224
Volume 59
Issue 4
Start page 425
End page 430
Total pages 6
Editor Bill Tow
Place of publication Abingdon, U.K.
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2005
Language eng
Subject C1
360100 Political Science
1605 Policy and Administration
1606 Political Science
Formatted abstract
In the aftermath of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference in May this year, Professor Michael Wesley (2005) and Associate Professor Marianne Hanson (2005) have offered us two different views of the NPT, its effectiveness and its likely future. This debate is an important one, because at its heart lies a disagreement about the place of nuclear weapons in global security. For Wesley, the NPT is already ‘on life support’: it’s unfair, ineffective and dangerous. Moreover, it fails to provide us with the instruments we need to ‘stabilise the process of proliferation’. Wesley proposes scrapping the NPT and designing a new regime which would accept the inevitability of further proliferation but attempt to modify the ‘conditions’ under which such proliferation occurs. On the other side of the debate, Hanson tells us that the NPT*/despite a number of specific weaknesses*/remains the principal pillar in humankind’s normative rejection of nuclear weapons. In this view, blame for the current poisonous atmosphere in the non-proliferation regime (and more broadly across the global security environment) should be assigned elsewhere, principally to American policy and the centrality of nuclear weapons in US strategic doctrine. Scrapping the treaty, Hanson argues, would merely invite instability and danger, since the world cannot afford a greater number of nuclear weapon states.

Does the NPT harm international security? Not much. But it probably just does less good than people are inclined to think. Nuclear weapons don’t dance to normative tunes. And arms control can’t carry the full weight of strategic relationships, particularly during a time of transformative change. The NPT is capable of bearing small burdens but not the large burden of reordering the world. Most lacking in the non-proliferation arena is political will, in particular the will to accept the risks and costs of muscular enforcement. In the future, wars will probably have to be fought to ensure that some actors do not acquire nuclear arsenals.
© 2005 Australian Institute of International Affairs
Keyword International Relations
Nuclear power
Q-Index Code C1

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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 05:35:33 EST