Problems of Enforcement: Iran, North Korea, and the NPT

By Choe, Julia | Harvard International Review, Summer 2006 | Go to article overview

Problems of Enforcement: Iran, North Korea, and the NPT


Choe, Julia, Harvard International Review


At first glance, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) seems to offer a concrete solution to the problem posed by nuclear weaponry. As the most widely accepted arms-control agreement, the NPT attempts to codify the prevention of arms proliferation among states. However, a major weakness of the NPT lies in the enforcement of its policies. This weakness has been highlighted by the current defiance of two states and has brought into question the overall effectiveness of the treaty. Iran's continuing non-cooperation emphasizes the problems of measuring compliance and of determining the course of action to take toward uncooperative states. North Korea's past actions and withdrawal from the NPT question the treaty's usefulness as a means of coping with states that no longer find abiding by the agreement worthwhile.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Both cases represent the NPT's ineffectiveness in establishing a consistent and forceful system for preventing nuclear proliferation. Surely future efforts should promote stronger consensus among participating states and uniform mechanisms for addressing illegitimate state action, but it is still uncertain how these goals should be incorporated into a working treaty.

Difficulties in NPT enforcement are not necessarily the fault of the treaty itself. Rather, they are intrinsic to the nature of arms control. The NPT would be best served by clearer mechanisms of enforcement that are less dependent on the vicissitudes of current global politics. Mechanisms that might include a clearer agenda of how to address noncompliant states or more concrete punishments for misbehavior could prevent the escalation of potentially dangerous situations.

Broad Acceptance, Good Intentions

Since its creation in 1970, the NPT has been accepted by 187 states. Only India, Pakistan, and Israel have failed to sign, and North Korea has withdrawn. Under the NPT, the five declared nuclear weapons states--the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China--agree to not assist other states in acquiring nuclear weapons. They also consent to reduce and eventually eliminate their own nuclear arsenals. Non-weapons states are obligated not to pursue nuclear weapons and can individually allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect their nuclear facilities. All states are forbidden to supply certain nuclear-related weapons or materials to others unless they are under safeguards. Only peaceful nuclear technology such as energy technology is allowed under the NPT. To induce states to abide by its terms, the NPT relies on nuclear safeguards--agreements that allow the IAEA to make routine inspections. Though the IAEA has no third-party enforcement power, its inspectors can report NPT violations to the United Nations, which can then enact sanctions and other measures. At the May 1995 NPT Extension Conference, parties adopted the Strengthened Safeguards System, which gave inspectors more power, including complete access to nuclear records and environmental sampling. The NPT's principal shortcoming is its reliance on immediate referrals of treaty violations to the UN Security Council and on effective action within the United Nations--conditions that are rarely achievable.

The Fundamental Flaw

Despite the consensus embodied in the NPT that states should pursue non-proliferation, its provisions have not been enforced in a reliable manner. The NPT contains no procedures for the Security Council's management of non-compliance. After referring a country to the Security Council, the IAEA has no control over subsequent developments. In addition, the Security Council has no obligation to act in a specific way; it could ignore the situation or take military action. It is also difficult to define compliance within Article IV of the NPT, which establishes the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Because compliance is a nebulous issue, inconsistencies that might merit the label of non-compliance can go undetected. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Problems of Enforcement: Iran, North Korea, and the NPT
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.