Less than a year after dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and
Nagasaki in 1945, the United States adopted a statute prohibiting the
transfer of its nuclear weapons to any other country. It was not until
23 years later, however, that countries began signing an international
treaty that prohibited the transfer of nuclear weapons by a country
that had them to any other country, indeed “to any recipient
On July 1, 1968, the United States, the Soviet Union, the United
Kingdom, and many other countries signed the nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty (NPT) at ceremonies in Washington, Moscow, and London.
Subsequently, nearly 190 countries have signed and ratified the treaty
aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons from the few
countries that then had them to the many that did not and at reducing
and eventually eliminating nuclear weapons from the world.
40th anniversary of the NPT provides an opportunity to re-examine the
history of the treaty’s negotiation and ask what lessons it offers for