Chicago Journal of International Law


In this Development, I argue that the NPT cannot effectively deter nonproliferation on its own terms, nor can it do so by virtue of establishing a "nonproliferation norm." Instead, because of its broad language, the security uncertainties characteristic of the post-Cold War geopolitical landscape, and the desire of nuclear weapon states to maintain their monopoly, the NPT is able to deter nuclear proliferation only insofar as it encourages bargaining between "threshold states" and more powerful countries dissatisfied with the NPT's default rule of allowing uranium enrichment. In other words, the NPT's effectiveness does not lie in its legal prohibition on nuclear weapon development; rather, its effectiveness stems from providing a broad baseline against which states can bargain. Section II provides a background on the nonproliferation framework under the NPT and examines why it enables bargaining. Section III highlights Iran's particular case and some probable characteristics of states willing to attempt this type of bargaining. A brief conclusion follows in Section IV.