Two former U.S. secretaries of defense, a former U.S. secretary of state, and twenty other nonproliferation experts released a statement today urging all governments to recommit themselves to their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) as a bulwark against proliferation. Congressman John Spratt (D-S.C.) hailed the statement and said he, Congressman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and possibly others would introduce a resolution in Congress embodying the statement's principles.

Concluded in 1968, the NPT established one of the most important security bargains of all time: states without nuclear weapons pledged not to acquire them, while nuclear-armed states committed to eventually give them up. Non-nuclear-weapon states were also free to reap the benefits of the peaceful use of nuclear technology under strict and verifiable control.

Noting that the NPT has successfully held back the tide of proliferation for more than three decades, the experts warned that it must be strengthened if it is to continue stemming proliferation in the future. "The NPT's success depends on universal compliance with tighter rules to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, more effective regional security strategies, and renewed progress toward fulfillment of the nuclear-weapon states' NPT disarmament obligations," the experts declared.

"The NPT is indispensable protection against the gravest threat we face, but must be made stronger," Congressman Spratt stated.

The experts' statement sets out six goals for governments to pursue at and beyond an upcoming review conference on the treaty this May in New York. These goals include agreeing to more effective controls on the materials and technologies that can be used to produce nuclear weapons, more rapid action by the nuclear-weapon states to reduce the size of their nuclear arsenals, and ending the use of weapons-usable materials as fuel for civilian nuclear reactors. Achievement of these and other goals will require all governments to take a balanced approach toward the treaty and its obligations, the experts said.

The 23 experts include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense William Perry, and former Congressman Lee Hamilton. Click here to access the full text of the statement. The Arms Control Association and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace co-sponsored the statement and created a web site with resources on the NPT 2005 Review Conference.