The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) has been the principal legal barrier to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons for the past forty-five years. It promotes the peaceful uses of nuclear technology and insures, through the application of safeguards inspections conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that those technologies are not being diverted toward the production of nuclear weapons. It is also the only multinational treaty that obligates the five nuclear weapons states that are party to the treaty (China, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States) to pursue nuclear disarmament measures.
Though there have been many challenges over the years, most would agree that the treaty has largely been successful. However, many are concerned about the continued viability of the NPT. The perceived slow pace of nuclear disarmament, the interest by some countries to consider a weapons program while party to the treaty, and the funding and staffing issues at the IAEA, are all putting considerable strain on the treaty. This manuscript explores those issues and offers some possible solutions to ensure that the NPT will survive effectively for many years to come.