OP#14: Nuclear Challenges and Policy Options for the Next US Administration

January 7, 2009
Jean du Preez, Editor

Occasional Paper #14

Read the full Occasional Paper No. 14:
Nuclear Challenges and Policy Options for the Next US Administration

During the almost two year run-up to the November 2008 U.S. presidential election, it became clear that the new president and his administration would face a number of serious proliferation and arms control challenges as soon as they assumed office. These challenges include, but are not limited to, continued fears that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability, the failure to ensure that North Korea’s nuclear weap- ons program is verifiably reversed, and concerns over Syria’s secretive nuclear activities. Other nuclear-related challenges include ways to meet growing global energy requirements, including by means of nuclear energy, while ensuring that this so-called nuclear renaissance does not contribute to further proliferation of nuclear weapons and related technologies. The recent agreement by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to make, at the behest of the United States, a country-specific exception to allow nuclear cooperation with India, a non- member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), has led to widespread concerns that this double-standards approach undermines the global nonproliferation regime. At the same time, many countries believe that the United States has over the past eight years reneged on its “unequivocal undertaking” to eliminate its nuclear arsenal as part of a number of nuclear disarmament–related promises made during the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Moreover, the deteriorating U.S. relationship with Russia along with China’s growing economic and military might create additional challenges for the new administration. Equally significant and challenging is the urgent need for the United States to regain the trust of the international community if it is again to play a leadership role in pursuit of global nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament objectives.

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