Experts Say

A rebuttal to critics of the nuclear weapon ban treaty

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
July 24, 2017
By Nick Ritchie

The argument exhibits four main problems. First, Sagan and Valentino conflate symptom and cause when they argue that the prohibition treaty is divisive and counterproductive. The humanitarian initiative and the prohibition treaty it has generated are symptoms of deep and growing division within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), not a cause of division. The division is rooted in disillusionment over the very limited progress that nuclear-armed states have made toward the disarmament steps agreed at the 1995, 2000, and 2010 NPT review conferences—and disillusionment over the prospect that nuclear-armed nations will possess nuclear weapons permanently. It is difficult to argue that the prohibition treaty is counterproductive to further disarmament steps when the treaty itself is a symptom of discontent with glacial disarmament progress.
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