Press Release

Shared Responsibilities for Nuclear Disarmament: A Global Debate


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Achieving the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons will require the increased engagement of nations that currently do not posses nuclear arms of their own, according to the authors of a new collection from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. We must move beyond the traditional cycle of complaints from the “have-nots” and retorts from the “haves” to suggest new ways to realize the shared goal of nuclear disarmament.

As interest in nuclear disarmament has grown in recent years, the technical and political challenges that confront the international community have become more complex. Is nuclear disarmament a shared responsibility between nuclear-weapons states (NWS) and non-nuclear-weapons states (NNWS)? How can we ensure, as President Obama suggested in his 2009 Prague speech, that “countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy”?

In this Occasional Paper from the American Academy (available at, seven international scholars and diplomats respond to Stanford University political scientist and nonproliferation specialist Scott Sagan’s essay, “Shared Responsibilities for Nuclear Disarmament,” originally published in the Fall 2009 issue of the Academy’s journal Daedalus. At the core of the debate is Sagan’s perspective about commitments made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and his argument that we cannot obtain a nuclear-free world without the active partnership of NNWS. The authors in this edition – two from NWS and six from NNWS – reflect diverse perspectives on whether shared responsibility means equal responsibility, on the future of nuclear deterrence, and on the interpretation of key elements in the NPT. Despite strong differences in national perspectives and individual opinions, the contributors agree that continued debate is necessary in order to progress toward the common goal of a nuclear weapons-free world.The Occasional Paper includes the following essays:

  • Scott D. Sagan: Shared Responsibilities for Nuclear Disarmament
  • James M. Acton: U.S. Allies and the Politics of Abolishing Nuclear Weapons
  • Jayantha Dhanapala: Common Responsibilities in the NPT – Shared or Asymmetrical?
  • Mustafa Kibaroglu: Turkey and Shared Responsibilities
  • Harold Muller: The Common Project of Nuclear Abolition
  • Yukio Satoh: On Rethinking Extended Deterrence
  • Mohamed I. Shaker: Shared, But No Equal Responsibilities
  • Achiilles Zaluar: Shared Responsibilities, Shared Rights

The volume is part of the Academy’s Global Nuclear Future Initiative, a project that brings together research groups focused on the nuclear industry, the future fuel cycle, the protection of nuclear materials, and the emergence of a new international nuclear regulatory regime. Sagan and Steven E. Miller co-direct the Initiative. The articles appearing in the double issue of Dædalus can be accessed on the Academy’s website at:

The project is principally supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Kavli Foundation.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; global security; social policy; the humanities and culture; and education. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs from around the world. (




Global Nuclear Future

Steven E. Miller, Robert Rosner, and Scott D. Sagan