s North Korea prepares for another nuclear test and Iran continues to install centrifuges to enrich uranium, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) needs shoring up more than ever. Delegates are meeting in New York now to prepare for the next review of the landmark treaty in 2010. A topic that will certainly be on the agenda is the "13 Practical Steps" toward nuclear disarmament.

All NPT states agreed in 2000 to lay out a practical path toward nuclear disarmament—the 13 Steps. Are these still the right steps? How far have we come? Sharon Squassoni assesses the progress of the declared nuclear-weapon states (United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom) on the steps, and recommends measures to breathe new life into the 13 Steps or a similar package.

Recommendations:

  • The 13 Steps are still the currency of the nuclear bargain, but need updating. New approaches, like Japan's "11 Benchmarks for Global Nuclear Disarmament" deserve attention.
     
  • U.S. leadership is critical, but not enough. Other states, nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states, must do their part.
     
  • Recent Russian initiatives are helpful, but nuclear weapons deserve less, rather than more emphasis in their security policies.
     
  • India, Israel, and Pakistan – all weapon states outside the NPT – must be included in the disarmament dialogue.