Skip to main content

Nuclear Governance: Prospects for a Strengthened Nonproliferation Regime

Back to All Publications

• The managers of the nonproliferation regime have been, and continue to be, driven by the competing desires to restrict weapons-relevant technology and to encourage the spread of the civilian power sector. These goals can never be fully reconciled, at least not with current technology, and national bureaucracies have struggled to strike the proper balance.

• The nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) is premised on a strict division into nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states. That strict go/no-go division may not be sufficient, or fully relevant to, the current nuclear order.

• The question of dual capable technology has never been resolved, and the diffusion of knowledge and capability makes the technology denial model of nonproliferation increasingly tricky.

• The nuclear governance regime is grappling with the emergence of new actors. These include multi-purpose bodies like the G20 that may provide the opportunity for powerful states to expand consensus across a range of specific issues. But current economic and technological trends are also empowering less capable states as well as non-state actors and networks. Even so, the capabilities of established NPT states still dwarf those of most aspirants.

• Technological developments have periodically upended assumptions about the nature and risks associated with the nuclear era.

• Going forward, the regime may need to include mechanisms that can deal with new nuclear arsenals that number in the teens.

View All Publications