By George Perkovich and James M. Acton, editors

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To the extent that the risk of fissile-material diversion grows as the number of states and facilities producing the material increases, the world needs to adopt new rules to prevent the spread of weapons-usable fissile material production capabilities to additional states. This issue is discussed in detail elsewhere in this paper. For now, it is important to note that taking nuclear abolition more seriously could help to overcome the resistance that key non-nuclear-weapons states have mounted to tightening rules on the spread of fuel-cycle capabilities.

The nuclear ‘double standard’ is said to explain or excuse Iran’s interest in obtaining nuclear-weapons capabilities. It is certainly possible that if no one else possessed nuclear weapons, Iran 44 | George Perkovich and James M. Acton would be more cooperative and the international community more insistent. But Iranian leaders insist that they do not seek nuclear weapons, and they have not said that the existence of nuclear weapons elsewhere is what motivates them to continue enrichment. Nor do they justify their refusal to comply with legally binding Security Council resolutions in these terms.

Making proliferation to non-state actors an international crime would diminish the risk that proliferation networks would thrive Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate | 45 in states with lax enforcement of national laws. Such networks could serve not only terrorists but also states that aspired to break their non-proliferation obligations and acquire nuclear-weapons capabilities. Under such a law, proliferators would be subject to arrest and prosecution anywhere in the world. States that did not support this international legal buttressing of commitments already made under Resolution 1540 would reveal their real, as opposed to rhetorical, attitudes toward nuclear disarmament.

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