Article VI of the NonProliferation Treaty, first signed in 1970 by the U.S. and the other nuclear weapons states (the Soviet Union, the U.K., France and China), mandated those countries to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the 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." In exchange, the states without nuclear weapons pledged to never acquire them. This has been the fundamental bargain that has been the core of the global nonproliferation regime for the last 30 years. As noted above, the U.S. Constitution itself enshrines all treaties made as the supreme law of the land.

With this new millennium, there are still more nuclear weapons today (and many still on high alert) then when the NPT was first signed. Moreover, through DOE's so-called Stockpile Stewardship Program, the U.S. government is seeking to preserve existing nuclear weapons "forever." At the same time, DOE is introducing modifications of weapons that arguably constitute new weapons because they intrinsically possess new and improved military characteristics. Perhaps even more sobering, there are growing indications that DOE and the weapons labs are working on completely new designs. These are likely to involve low-yield weapons ("mini-nukes" in the 5 kiloton or below range), which are inherently more dangerous because they are more likely to be used. At this writing, there is even proposed Senate legislation that will require DOE to undertake mini-nuke research and development.

In short, the U.S. has demonstrated no substantial sign that it will ever honor the NPT's mandate to disarm, and it is improbable that the other nuclear weapons states will ever do so while the U.S. does not. It seems obvious that our best long-term national and international security interests lie in eventually eliminating the nuclear threat, rather than in playing a leading and central role in indefinitely perpetuating it.