Diversion of nuclear materials
Proliferation, in the sense of spread of independent ownership of nuclear weapons to more nations than those which currently possess them, is detrimental to international peace and security. The risks of using nuclear weapons are likely to increase the more there are independent possessor nations in the world. Nuclear source materials used for peaceful purposes cannot be safeguarded against diversion to military activities. There is danger in the lack of agreement by countries having nuclear reactors, to allow inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency of all such facilities for monitoring of the nuclear fuel cycle in order to detect or prevent diversion to military purposes. IAEA nations without nuclear weapons have agreed that membership is conditional upon such inspections, but the nuclear weapon nations are on a voluntary basis to negotiate terms of inspections and other safeguards. Only the UK and the USA have done so, while the USSR has made a token agreement to allow inspection of a portion of its 40 operating reactors.
The [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] (1970) has always been considered as an inadequate provisional protection to contain the spread of nuclear weapons. It does not bind countries who have refused to sign it and have proceeded to develop nuclear technology. And some who did sign it, notably Iraq, have succeeded in deceiving the inspectorate of the IAEA, whose function is to detect violations. Such has been the case with North Korea, who signed the [Non-Proliferation Treaty] with a promise not to produce weapons and to facilitate international inspections, yet has been making plutonium on a tremendous scale at least since 1992. The treaty has two weaknesses. It only prohibits the transfer, possession or assembly of nuclear weapons and not of weapons-grade nuclear materials. And it lacks any provision against the transfer of nuclear expertise or experts.
The potential for the spread of nuclear weapons is one of the most serious threats to world peace.