Article VI of the NonProliferation Treaty, first signed in 1970 by the U.S. and
the other nuclear weapons states (the Soviet Union, the U.K., France and China),
mandated those countries to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective
measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and
to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under
strict and effective international control." In exchange, the states without
nuclear weapons pledged to never acquire them. This has been the fundamental bargain
that has been the core of the global nonproliferation regime for the last 30 years.
As noted above, the U.S. Constitution itself enshrines all treaties made as the
supreme law of the land.
With this new millennium, there are still more nuclear weapons today (and many
still on high alert) then when the NPT was first signed. Moreover, through DOE's
so-called Stockpile Stewardship Program, the U.S. government is seeking to preserve
existing nuclear weapons "forever." At the same time, DOE is introducing
modifications of weapons that arguably constitute new weapons because they intrinsically
possess new and improved military characteristics. Perhaps even more sobering,
there are growing indications that DOE and the weapons labs are working on completely
new designs. These are likely to involve low-yield weapons ("mini-nukes"
in the 5 kiloton or below range), which are inherently more dangerous because
they are more likely to be used. At this writing, there is even proposed Senate
legislation that will require DOE to undertake mini-nuke research and development.
In short, the U.S. has demonstrated no substantial sign that it will ever honor
the NPT's mandate to disarm, and it is improbable that the other nuclear weapons
states will ever do so while the U.S. does not. It seems obvious that our best
long-term national and international security interests lie in eventually eliminating
the nuclear threat, rather than in playing a leading and central role in indefinitely