How to Stop States from ‘Weaponizing’ Nuclear Programs


Mark Hibbs

Global Governance,

he NPT doesn’t expressly ban states from doing the math and science and engineering needed to ‘weaponize’ nuclear material into an explosive device.” This needs to change.

Long before a final Iran nuclear agreement was on the horizon, plans have been afoot to generalize the hoped-for results of diplomacy far beyond the borders of the Islamic Republic. If these ideas bear fruit, after an Iran deal happens, most of the world’s nations will commit not to do things that are critical for building nuclear arms.

Of the 185 non-nuclear weapons state parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), nearly all countries with significant nuclear infrastructure have concluded safeguards agreements permitting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify that they are not producing or diverting plutonium and uranium for weapons. But the NPT doesn’t expressly ban states from doing the math and science and engineering needed to “weaponize” nuclear material into an explosive device.

The IAEA’s Iran dossier suggests that for many years, scientists guided by Iran’s military worked on nuclear weapons development. Because a diplomatic settlement of the crisis must reduce Iran’s nuclear threat to be credible, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) negotiating with Iran want Iran to divulge what it knows about weapons-making, giving the IAEA and the powers a better baseline to monitor Iran’s NPT peaceful-use commitment.  

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