Études de l'Ifri Proliferation Papers

The NPT and the Origins of NATO’s Nuclear Sharing Arrangements Proliferation Papers, No. 57, February 2017

Russia has recently accused the United States and NATO Allies of violating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) by arguing that NATO's nuclear sharing arrangements are not permitted under the Treaty.


On the contrary, the historical record shows that the text of the NPT was crafted by the US and the USSR, in close cooperation, precisely so that NATO's arrangements would be compatible with Treaty obligations – while also constraining the ability of non-nuclear states to acquire nuclear weapons. This paper shows how the US and USSR negotiated Articles I and II – the critical parts of the NPT pertaining to nuclear weapons proliferation. The US explored multiple options and sought to balance several (sometimes conflicting) objectives during these negotiations, from managing its key bilateral relationships (particularly with the USSR and West Germany), to strengthening NATO's defensive capacity and credibility, and, finally, to preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons. Ultimately, the NPT proved successful because the final text proved satisfactory to alleviate the concerns of all parties involved – the superpowers, NATO, the Warsaw Pact and the neutral non-aligned countries.

The NPT and the Origins of NATO’s Nuclear Sharing Arrangements
Non-Proliferation Treaty Arms control North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) deterrence Europe Russia