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Wake-up call for 'Nuke Five'

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By Kim Won-soo

Over the last five decades, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) has served as the bedrock for keeping the world safe from a nuclear doomsday. Now it stands on the brink of a breakdown.

The 10th NPT Review Conference is finally in session after being postponed by two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The long delay might have been a blessing in disguise, as it bought more time for a compromise outcome to be worked out. Unfortunately, however, the prospects of such an outcome appear dangerously low.

The NPT has long managed to keep the number of nuclear states at the single-digit level through a combination of incentives and disincentives. It is premised on the belief that "less is safer," in terms of both the number of nuclear states (horizontal) and the quantity of nuclear weapons (vertical). The quid-pro-quo bargain between nuclear haves and have-nots was struck to limit both horizontal and vertical proliferation simultaneously.

The most frequently used disincentives are international condemnation and sanctions against non-nuclear states attempting to go nuclear. The track record of these disincentives is mixed at best. While they successfully stopped some nuclear aspirants, they failed in a greater number of cases.

One of the most effective incentives has been security assurances, popularly known as a "nuclear........

© The Korea Times

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