While international diffusion of nuclear materials and technology is an important cause of nuclear weapons proliferation, experts disagree on how best to address the problem and prevent countries from acquiring nuclear weapons.
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.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's presence at the upcoming nuclear summit symbolizes the strength of the U.S.-India partnership and India's commitment to strengthening the global nonproliferation regime.
The probability of nuclear terrorism may not be high, but the Nuclear Security Summit raises the awareness of states with nuclear materials and encourages real commitments toward preventing a nuclear terrorist attack.
The United States and India recently concluded arrangements for the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. This removes one of the final hurdles to fully implementing the 2008 U.S.-India nuclear deal, which exempted India from nuclear trade restrictions and has exacerbated nuclear tensions in South Asia.
Improving the reliability of nuclear fuel supplies is best achieved by giving priority to fuel leasing contracts coupled with long-term generic export licenses, and last resort multilateral fuel supply arrangements.
Nuclear power is not without risks, both from nuclear waste and the possible proliferation of nuclear fuel for weapons, and its cost and build-out time make it a partial solution, at best, to climate change.
Expectations of a nuclear energy renaissance are particularly high in the United States, but government programs to jump start new reactor construction will likely not be enough to spark more than a handful of reactors by 2015.
The specter of nuclear proliferation must be understood as both a political issue and a technological one; the intent of would-be proliferators needs to be addressed together with the science.
James Acton and co-authors present an overview of the role of fissile material control in nuclear disarmament. They review past efforts to securing disarmament and discuss the major challenges facing the elimination of nuclear weapons today.