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The Nuclear Non-Protestation Treaty

September 11, 2009

Susan Watkins

The roar of crashing banks and stock markets has drowned the drumbeat for war on Iran of late; but behind the headlines of economic turmoil, a nuclear-weapons crisis persists. Obama has vowed that he will do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop the Iranian enrichment programme. The threat of military force must stay on the table—‘As President, I will use all elements of American power to pressure Iran’. He will have support in Europe: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned over a year ago that ‘the world should prepare for war over Iran’s nuclear programme’. The legal pretext for an attack is provided by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which has emerged in the post-Cold War era as a cornerstone of the ‘international community’. Recent articles in this journal have examined the formal aims and practical record of the NPT in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, and the policies of the Bush Administration towards it. [1] What follows will look at two further questions. Firstly, what is the political history of the Treaty as an international agreement—which powers conceived it, and for what reasons; which accepted it, and why; which have rejected it, and with what consequences? Secondly, what has been the effect of the Treaty in world politics, understood as an arena of conflicts involving not only states, but movements and ideals? more

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