When countries employ the threat of proliferation as a bargaining chip, there is a sweet spot between having too little and too much nuclear latency to extract concessions from Washington.
The regime for managing dual-use nuclear technology has proved remarkably successful to date, but it is becoming increasingly stressed and the prospects for buttressing it are bleak.
The Nuclear Security Summit has made little progress on preventing the production of fissile material that has no plausible use. One way forward would be to establish a norm that such production should be consistent with reasonable civilian needs.
There is a serious risk that, within the next few years, Japan will produce more plutonium than it can use. The resulting buildup would set a damaging precedent, exacerbate regional tensions, and increase the likelihood of nuclear terrorism.
Japan has pledged not to produce more plutonium than it can consume. Serious questions are emerging, however, about whether it can uphold this commitment.
The 2015 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference brought together over 800 experts and officials from more than 45 countries and international organizations to discuss emerging trends in nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, deterrence, and nuclear energy.
If uranium supplier states are deterred from accounting for their uranium in India, that would inform all NPT parties that have pledged to renounce nuclear weapons that it doesn’t matter whether nuclear goods, sold on condition that they will be used peacefully, might be used to make deadly arms.
So far, the Nuclear Security Summits have proved unable to break through India’s penchant for secrecy on what it considers to be matters of national security, so the country’s nuclear security arrangements remain somewhat opaque.
Russia and Iran are conferring about the supply of new nuclear power plants at the Bushehr site on the Persian Gulf. Iran operates one Russian reactor there and building more could contribute to a comprehensive agreement between the six powers and Iran.
A Japan bristling with weapons-grade nuclear materials fits a Chinese narrative that the Abe government intends to re-militarize and threaten Japan’s neighbors.