U.S. violations of nuclear non-proliferation

Robert McNamara, head of the Department of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered the following analysis in 2005:

“I would characterize current U.S. nuclear weapons policy as immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary and dreadfully dangerous.” (FAIR)

Debates about nuclear weapons typically feature lawmakers hyping the potential dangers we face from nuclear-powered foes like Iran and North Korea. These fears are copied into print and echoed over the airwaves until rational opinions dissolve into mania.

Aside from possessing the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons and aside from being the only state to use them, the U.S. is actually in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – a fact that must be understood to properly contextualize this issue.

In its 2005 report, Foreign Policy in Focus identified these (ongoing) violations:

The United States refused to uphold its previous arms control pledges, blocked consideration of the establishment of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, refused to rule out U.S. nuclear attacks against non-nuclear states, and demanded that Iran and North Korea—but not U.S. allies like Israel, Pakistan, and India—be singled out for UN sanctions for their nuclear programs.

That said, I don’t support a nuclear Iran. It is unwise to increase access to WMD, especially in a theocratic state. But I also don’t support nuclear stockpiles in the U.S., where war is waged perpetually.


Here’s a specific breakdown of U.S. noncompliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

  1. Article I forbids transfer of nuclear weapons and forbids assisting, encouraging or inducing non-nuclear states to acquire weapons. The U.S. is involved in nuclear sharing.
  2. Article IV grants non-nuclear nations the right to “develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination.” The U.S. seeks to prevent Iranian nuclear development, claiming they will use it for military purposes.
  3. Article VI calls for nuclear nations “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” The U.S. has not sought “complete disarmament” and still has massive stockpiles almost 40 years since enacting the N.P.T.