A Few Steps Forward on Nonproliferation

In 2005, the Nonproliferation Treaty Review conference produced little but hand-wringing and frustration when it ended. The story was about the Bush administration and its alleged failures to advance the nonproliferation regime, which conveniently gave other states an excuse to hide behind. Bush actually did do a lot, but he wasn't given credit for it because his foreign policy was controlled at the time by people who didn't particularly prioritize cooperative American nonproliferation policy agreements.
This year, the U.S. did its part, but other countries had no recourse but to play ball too. (Forgive the metaphor; I'm going to a Yankees game.) Iran could have blocked adoption of a final document Friday, but didn't because they do not want to be internationally ostracized any further.

This year's "RevCon," as it is called, produced concrete support from the international community for a series of measures the Obama administration has been pursuing, from calling upon all states to implement the Additional Protocol, which allows for enhanced safeguards to prevent states from illicitly acquiring a nuclear weapons program, to a recognition that states that cheat on the Treaty cannot be allowed to evade accountability by simply withdrawing from the Treaty, as North Korea did in 2003.

The nonproliferation regime needed this conference to be successful.  After the debacle of 2005, a second failure would have raised questions on whether the NPT regime would survive to the next conference scheduled for 2015.

Hard work, gritty diplomacy, and persistent engagement can pay off.