Center for American Progress

Memo on New Carnegie Endowment Nuclear Nonproliferation Strategy

Memo on New Carnegie Endowment Nuclear Nonproliferation Strategy

To: Interested Parties
From: Robert O. Boorstin

A terrorist armed with nuclear weapons is arguably the greatest threat facing the United States. A new report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the Bush administration needs to do much more to protect us from this and other nuclear proliferation threats, and offers an innovative, comprehensive strategy for the next president to succeed.

The report, Universal Compliance: A Strategy for Nuclear Security, argues that "stopping the spread of nuclear weapons requires more international teamwork than the Bush administration recognizes." A comprehensive nonproliferation strategy will require "sustained cooperation from dozens of diverse nations."

The report — written by George Perkovich, Joseph Cirincione, Rose Gottemoeller, Jon B. Wolfsthal, and Jessica Mathews — identifies dozens of specific recommendations and initiatives to fight nuclear proliferation. They include:

  • Forging a global consensus over the threats posed by nuclear proliferation. The authors recommend that NATO leaders in 2005 agree to produce a collective proliferation threat assessment as the first step towards a global assessment.
  • Enforcing the nonproliferation regime. The report recommends that the United States should convene a summit of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to identify concrete, specific measures for enforcing nonproliferation rules. The authors also argue that the International Atomic Energy Agency should adopt rules outlawing nuclear assistance to those signatory nations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) that are not in full compliance with their NPT obligations.
  • Preventing states and terrorists from gaining access to nuclear weapons, materials, and technology. The authors argue that all weapons-usable material around the world be removed from vulnerable sites or secured under a "high, unified standard of protection." They also urge the development of "[nuclear] fuel supply guarantees to states that do not possess and agree not to pursue domestic nuclear material production."
  • Easing the tensions that drive states to pursue nuclear weapons. The report stresses that the only long-term solution to states' nuclear ambitions is to provide them positive incentives to forswear the weapons and to spell out the political, economic and military costs of developing them.
  • Delegitimizing the acquisition and use of nuclear weapons. The authors call on the United States to take the lead by ceasing research and development of new, more "usable" nuclear weapons, such as the bunker buster.
  • Identifying innovative recommendations for specific proliferation cases. The authors show how their strategy can be used to help defuse tensions on the Indian Subcontinent and address Iran's and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

For more on how to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, see the recent Working Paper prepared by Building Global Alliances for the 21st Century on this topic, "A Nuclear Nonproliferation Strategy for the 21st Century."

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