Has American Nuclear Policy Abandoned the NPT?

The Non-Proliferation Treaty has bound its signers of America, Russia and all other nuclear powers to faithfully work toward lowering their stockpiles of nuclear weapons. However, we’ve reached the point where these countries may dare to go back on their pledges and cause a collapse of the NPT system.

In a summary of the Nuclear Posture Review made public by the American government, it was stressed that the U.S. would use a “nuclear umbrella” that includes its allies as a deterrent, while not necessarily adhering to the policy of using nuclear arms as strictly a preventative measure. This will be the first NPR of President Joe Biden’s administration. Before he came to office, the president asserted that the sole purpose of nuclear weapons should be as a deterrent, but he seems to have taken his allies’ worries of the growing nuclear threats of Russia and China into consideration. It was rumored that the NPR would include a pledge to not use arms preemptively, but that idea has died out. It appears that the current administration hasn’t inherited the position of Barack Obama on a nuclear-free world.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has expressed strong support for this latest NPR. The Japanese government has opposed the policy of abstaining from preemptive strikes for some time now, as it left doubt as to if America would uphold the security pact between the two countries. However, what right do we have to lay claim as victims of nuclear weapons if we don’t try to limit their usage?

America’s nuclear policy has been designed with Russia and China’s efforts to strengthen their nuclear capabilities in mind. Russia, in the midst of its invasion of Ukraine, hasn’t shied away from threatening nuclear force and causing mass anxiety the world over in one fell swoop. These unlawful acts by a nuclear power only invite the risk of nuclear war. This is why we, as the international community, must be unflagging in the pursuit of totally abolishing nuclear weapons by placing all the more pressure on those who possess them.

Nuclear weapons must never be used again, and the only way to ensure that is their total elimination. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which partially came to fruition due to the appeals of atomic bomb victims from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is growing in importance as the world begins to face the possible reality of nuclear war.

Far from creating an agreement to not only abolish the possession and use of nuclear arms, but also any type of intimidation using them, the nuclear powers of the world seem to have turned their backs on the NPT and the idea of giving up their weapons. Never was this more evident than at a review conference for the NPT, where many of them treated nuclear disposal as a buzzword, while still officially agreeing to it. The framework for American and Russian nuclear disposal is collapsing as negotiations with China become untenable. If the nuclear powers are bent on dismantling the NPT, it’s up to the Japanese government to take real action to move the world toward nuclear disarmament.

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