Proliferation Control Regimes: Background and Status
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Weapons of mass destruction WMD, especially in the hands of radical states and terrorists, represent a major threat to U.S. national security interests. Multilateral regimes were established to restrict trade in nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and missile technologies, and to monitor their civil applications. Congress may consider the efficacy of these regimes in considering the potential renewal of the Export Administration Act, as well as other proliferation specific legislation in the 111th Congress. This report provides background and current status information on the regimes. The nuclear nonproliferation regime encompasses several treaties, extensive multilateral and bilateral diplomatic agreements, multilateral organizations and domestic agencies, and the domestic laws of participating countries. Since the dawn of the nuclear age, U.S. leadership has been crucial in developing the regime. While there is almost universal international agreement opposing the further spread of nuclear weapons, several challenges to the regime have arisen in recent years India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty NPT in 2003 and tested a nuclear explosive device in 2006 and 2009, Libya gave up a clandestine nuclear weapons program in 2004, and Iran was found to be in non-compliance with its treaty obligations in 2005. The discovery of the nuclear black market network run by A. Q. Khan spurred new thinking about how to strengthen the regime, including greater restrictions on sensitive technology. However, the extension of civil nuclear cooperation by the United States and other countries to India, a non-party to the NPT with nuclear weapons, has raised questions about what benefits still exist for non-nuclear-weapons states that remain in the treaty regime.
- Government and Political Science
- Nuclear Weapons