Forty years ago, the drafters of the original NPT dreamed of a world at the beginning of the 21st century that was at a lower threat of nuclear war than existed during the Cold War. To an extent, their work in drafting multilateral treaty signed by over 190 nations has staved off an epidemic of nuclear programs and NWS. What the NPT has not done, however, is adapt to a post-Cold War world where technology gaps are significantly smaller, communication and information are transferred at the speed of light, and geopolitics are now continually changing in a more interconnected world. As the nuclear proliferation problem simultaneously becomes more complex, the nonproliferation regime needs to take a step back in order to move forward. Splitting nonproliferation into two distinct efforts that congruently pursue the goals of NNWS dissuasion and NWS disarmament and focusing on basic state interactions allows the current nonproliferation regime to have the necessary adaptability and applicability required for success in today’s increasingly complex world.
The ETCI and ReSTART Treaties, respectively, provide new solutions to the current nuclear proliferation problem. Transitioning from a “sticks”-based nonproliferation approach to one that focuses on enhancing the “carrot” of staying nuclear weapons-free has the potential to revolutionize the nonproliferation regime and make being a member of the NNWS club the desired end. Similarly, focusing on achievable intermediate steps toward disarmament — whether qualitative or quantitative — provides opportunities for small successes and cooperation to generate increased trust and collaboration toward the nuclear arsenal reductions dreamed of by the NPT drafters. Elements of the ETCI have worked in nonproliferation discussions with Libya and seem to have finally turned the corner in denuclearizing North Korea. The results of the ReSTART’s predecessor prove that such measured steps toward cooperation and collaboration between NWS is possible. Both the ETCI and the ReSTART Treaty provide small, measurable step toward making the previously politically infeasible idea of global nuclear disarmament a reality.
The two-pronged dissuasion and disarmament approach returns the nonproliferation regime to its fundamental principles and helps resolve the critiques of the current NPT-driven nonproliferation regime. Iran’s stone-walling of IAEA protocol, disregard for UN Security Council sanctions, and alleged perversion of the NPT — if successful — could be a harbinger of things to come. A.Q. Khan’s nuclear Wal-Mart and al-Qaeda’s explicitly stated desire for nuclear weapons makes nuclear nonproliferation — and international cooperation on this issue — a pressing international security concern. The ETCI and ReSTART Treaty answer the new geopolitics, new nuclear threats, and new widespread technological capabilities that necessitate a new-look nonproliferation regime.