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Proliferation and Nonproliferation in the Early Twenty-First Century : The Permanent Five Hold the Key to Success

Proliferation Papers no. 42, Spring 2012

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Since the early twenty-first century, the international nonproliferation landscape has experienced a shift from relatively steady proliferation schemes to more complex and diverse challenges. New entities are gaining access to nuclear material and among them is a growing number of non-state actors. Some states continue to abuse international norms and rules overtly, while others opt for covert proliferation strategies. More concerning is that sharp divisions have surfaced about nonproliferation policy and how to enforce and strengthen the regime, both among the P-5 states and between them and the members of the Non-Aligned Movement. The nonproliferation regime has thus suffered not only from a crisis of compliance but also from a crisis of legitimacy. In order to respond to these challenges, a new agenda should be implemented. This agenda needs to balance policy effectiveness and legitimacy, placing the P-5 states at the center-stage. The prospects for success, however, are uncertain because it is unclear whether the P-5 states will be able and willing to play this role adequately.

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