Press Release

Strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime


American Academy of Arts and Sciences Paper Examines Options

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Nearly all of the 190 signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) agree that the 42-year-old treaty is fragile and in need of fundamental reform. But gaining consensus on how to fix the NPT will require reconciling the sharply differing views of nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states, according to a paper released today by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Strengthening the international rules is increasingly important as dozens of countries, including some with unstable political environments, explore nuclear energy.

In Nuclear Collisions: Discord, Reform & the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime, Steven E. Miller, Codirector of the Academy’s Global Nuclear Future Initiative, outlines the main points of contention within the NPT regime and identifies the issues that have made reform so difficult. “The future of the NPT regime will be shaped by colliding visions,” Miller writes. His comprehensive analysis provides a foundation for understanding – and managing, minimizing, and overcoming – differing perspectives.

According to Miller, nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states have different perceptions of the NPT’s adequacy and fairness, as well as its flaws and weaknesses. “Given this diversity of views,” he writes, “it is not surprising that states respond differently to proposed reforms of the regime; they do not agree on diagnoses of the NPT’s problems, and hence do not share the same reform agenda.”

The paper includes responses from a group of global experts who offer commentary and provide international perspectives on how to improve the NPT regime. The respondents include Wael Al-Assad (League of Arab States), Jayantha Dhanapala (Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs), C. Raja Mohan (Indian Express), and Ta Minh Tuan (Office of the Government, Viet Nam).

For more than 50 years, the American Academy has played an integral role in nonproliferation studies. The Academy has created a global network – government policy-makers and the heads of nongovernmental organizations, nuclear engineers and industry leaders, social scientists and nonproliferation experts – and is working closely with colleagues at the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and various state energy agencies.

Steven E. Miller is Director of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School and Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly journal International Security. In addition to his role with the Academy’s Global Nuclear Future Initiative, he is Cochair of the Academy’s Committee on International Security Studies.Recent Academy Publications in Arms Control and the Nuclear Future:

The Back-End of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: An Innovative Storage Concept, Robert Rosner, Stephen M. Goldberg, and James P. Malone (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2012)

Game Changers for Nuclear Energy, Kate Marvel and Michael May (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2011)

Nuclear Reactors: Generation to Generation, Stephen M. Goldberg and Robert Rosner (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2011)

Shared Responsibilities for Nuclear Disarmament: A Global Debate, Scott D. Sagan, James M. Acton, Jayantha Dhanapala, Mustafa Kibaroglu, Harald Müller, Yukio Satoh, Mohamed I. Shaker, and Achilles Zaluar (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2010)

Multinational Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle, Charles McCombie and Thomas Isaacs, Noramly Bin Muslim, Tariq Rauf, Atsuyuki Suzuki, Frank von Hippel, and Ellen Tauscher (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2010)

On the Global Nuclear Future, vol. 1, Dædalus (MIT Press, 2009)

On the Global Nuclear Future, vol. 2, Dædalus (MIT Press, 2010)

All of these publications are available on the Academy’s website.

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center and an honorary learned society. Current Academy research focuses on science and technology policy; global security and energy; humanities and culture; and education and social policy. 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