As U.S. policy seeks to create the conditions that would allow for deep reductions in nuclear arsenals, the United States and Russia can undertake a practical approach to their stockpiles to 500 nuclear warheads each and those of other nuclear-armed states to no more than about half that number.
Verifying nuclear disarmament poses an unprecedented technical challenge, given the lingering uncertainty over whether states have retained militarily significant stockpiles of fissile material.
Although Russia, the United States, and American allies have been loath to downsize their nuclear arsenals, deep reductions would not undermine a nation’s security since arsenal size has little bearing on effectiveness of deterrence.
Since the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are nuclear weapon states, they struggle in their attempts to convince other nations, like Iran and North Korea, not to develop a nuclear weapon program.
Achieving a genuinely collaborative approach to missile defense would address a common threat to the Euro-Atlantic region and help remove the misgivings that are blocking progress toward a common security space.
Mutual understanding and cooperation between the United States, China, and other countries is essential for overcoming the challenges facing the nonproliferation regime.
U.S. nuclear strategy would have to change in order to enable deep reductions in nuclear weapon numbers and U.S. allies have a role in facilitating such a change.
Resolving ambivalence over securing a world without nuclear weapons requires cooperative action of both the old and new powers, North and South, East and West.
The 2010 NPT Review Conference achieved small but significant steps and should be considered a win for the United States.
Nuclear nonproliferation cannot be considered utopian since we know what can and should be done to achieve it. The harder question, however, is whether we can muster the political will to create the necessary geo-political and security conditions to achieve common nonproliferation goals.