Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 05/2010

Strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime

Paul Lettow

April 2010

Council on Foreign Relations


The international nuclear nonproliferation regime—the principal objective of which is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons—is under severe strain. The North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs have exploited and underscored weaknesses in the regime that must be fixed if it is to serve its purpose. Those weaknesses are both structural—ambiguities and limitations in the current rules—and result from a failure to enforce the rules that exist.