Expanding Nuclear Weapons State Transparency to Strengthen Nonproliferation

Author: 
Publication Date: 
March 2015
Description: 
CISSM Working Paper
Project: 
Collaborative Education and Cooperative Security
Nuclear Past, Present and Future Project
The Advanced Methods of Cooperative Security Program
Document Type: 
Working Papers
In the years since the 2000 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, NPT nuclear weapons states have engaged in consequential transparency measures about their stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials. The level of transparency thus far achieved, however, has proven uneven in terms of the types and amounts of information released and in terms of the frequency of those releases—and most importantly, has not contributed significantly to fulfillment of these states NPT commitments. Nuclear weapons states should reassess the scope of their transparency efforts to date and consider expanding the types of information that they reveal to provide international assurances and achieve gains in support of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. This paper identifies particular steps that these states could take to fulfill the desire for greater transparency that move beyond declarations of the number and status of nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. In particular, it focuses on how transparency can be expanded about the operational practices and protocols that govern the day-to-day management of their military nuclear materials—their warheads, weapons components, and material stockpiles—and how transparency in this area would contribute to fulfilling their disarmament and nonproliferation commitments.