NATO's Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Matt Mahowald
March 15, 2016

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2016


Fig. 1: NATO's Flag (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Although nuclear weapons remain a politically charged topic, one viewpoint considering the missiles as a threat while the other considers them a deterrent, NATO (See fig. 1) has taken strides, specifically through the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, to attempt to dissuade the use of nuclear weapons in the global community. Signed in July of 1968, the treaty aimed to replace the spread of nuclear weapons with cooperation in advancing nuclear technology, as well as promoting an eventual complete nuclear disarmament.

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

Although not explicitly stated, the NPT has been distilled to three main pillars that promote its goals: (1) Non-proliferation, (2) Disarmament, and (3) The right to peacefully use nuclear technology. This sums up the basic ideal of the NPT: "the NPT non-nuclear-weapon states agree never to acquire nuclear weapons and the NPT nuclear-weapon states in exchange agree to share the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology and to pursue nuclear disarmament aimed at the ultimate elimination of their nuclear arsenals." [1] Initially, the treaty was intended for a 25-year time period to last from 1970, it's instantiation, to 1995, but has since been extended indefinitely.


The NPT carries with it a much criticism, including beliefs that the treaty is a tool for the nuclear powers to keep the power to themselves, but overall the treaty has allowed nuclear powers to decrease research into missiles and instead funnel resources into nuclear power. For example, since the Cold War, the United States has eliminated almost 90% of its nuclear weapons according to the Department of Defense. [2]

© Matt Mahowald. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] K. M. Campbell, R. J. Einhorn, and M. B. Reiss, eds., The Nuclear Tipping Point: Why States Reconsider Their Nuclear Choices (Brookings Institution Press, 2004).

[2] D. Khan, The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Physics 241, Winter 2012..