Op-Ed: How the nuclear weapons taboo is fading
(NCT) – The nuclear taboo has long been a powerful one. It has always been supposed to be so powerful, in fact, that it would prevent anyone from even considering it. But something is changing.
The nuclear taboo has for several decades been the foundation of the non‑proliferation regime. This regime ensures that nuclear states do not produce, test, or use nuclear weapons. This system has been based on several core principles, which are laid out in the Nuclear Non‑proliferation Treaty (NPT), and on a series of “non‑proliferation sanctions,” under international law. But non‑proliferation sanctions do not really solve the problem. They are an instrument to prevent the worst consequences of a nuclear test or a nuclear war, rather than an enforcement mechanism.
In part because of the treaty regime, and in part because of other factors—such as increased risk aversion and more vocal advocates of nuclear abolition—the nuclear taboo has been losing force. The NPT may no longer be the strongest factor in the current nuclear non‑proliferation regime, but it is still the basis for it and is still useful for enforcing the safeguards. In addition, the nuclear taboo has been used to prevent states from acquiring nuclear weapons. It is a deterrent to states that consider nuclear weapons essential for their security. The non‑proliferation system is now beginning to face pressures that could make it more difficult to keep the non‑proliferation regime alive, and to prevent its demise.
A key issue is the role of non‑proliferation sanctions and nuclear non‑proliferation sanctions. Nuclear non‑proliferation sanctions exist in two forms: non‑proliferation sanctions and nuclear non‑proliferation sanctions. Nuclear sanctions are measures like preventing the entry of uranium and plutonium into the civilian nuclear fuel cycle. Non‑proliferation sanctions also exist, but they are more general, affecting nuclear states and non‑proliferation states alike. They are also more difficult to achieve. Non