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Lessons from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
October 2007

The Stanley Foundation’s work focuses primarily on peace and security issues and advocating principled multilateralism. The foundation’s concept of principled multilateralism means working respectfully across differences to create fair, just, and lasting solutions. This is the third in a series of articles written by foundation staff that examines the cases where principled multilateralism has been successful. In this article Executive Vice President Jeffrey G. Martin discusses the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as one of the greatest successes that also contains a lesson for today. Look for future articles in upcoming editions of think., our monthly e-newsletter.

Nuclear terrorism is a nightmare of our times. But the threat posed by the unmanaged spread of nuclear technology dates back more than 60 years. Controlling the proliferation of nuclear weapons is one of the great achievements of multilateral diplomacy. However, it also provides an object lesson in the need to guard against complacency and adjust to the shifting global political landscape of the 21st century.

Concern about the proliferation of nuclear weapons dates back to the immediate aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. The scientists and policymakers of that day foresaw the dangers and opportunities that would arise as nuclear technology became more readily available around the world. Nuclear power, it was hoped, would be an incredibly cheap source of energy. At the same time, the idea of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of more and more nations was—and still is—frightening.

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This page is part of Rising Powers: The New Global Reality, a project from the Stanley Foundation.