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Arms Control

Apart from the United Nations Charter, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the most widely adhered to treaty in existence, with 191 signatories. The NPT prohibits the dissemination and acquisition of nuclear weapons, while promoting their peaceful uses and eventual abolition. As the NPT celebrates fifty years, a project led by Dr Jonathan Hunt is informing debate over the original intentions of the framers, and the most effective way of ensuring those goals are honoured in the next fifty years.

Trump document

Dr Hunt has researched the history of nuclear order since 2009, with a particular focus on the negotiation of the NPT from 1958 to 1970. His NPT project emerges from research for his forthcoming book Atomic Reaction: The Spread of Nuclear Weapons and America’s New Global Mission. This book is a history of nuclear nonproliferation as an idea, a policy, and a regime. From 1945 to 1970, a postcolonial community of nation-states as embodied in a cosmopolitan network of diplomats forged three multilateral pacts, with the NPT as keystone. Together they ushered in a world where nuclear science, technology, and engineering were made subject to international rules and sanctions, bringing a measure of law and order – if imperfect fairness – to the atomic realm.

In 2019 the Carnegie Endowment for Peace agreed to fund a multi-year research program addressing the origins of the NPT, bringing scholarly rigour to bear on a global issue that concerns nearly every national government, and the United States in particular: the fading of that consensus to which we owe the NPT. At the request of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation Dr Hunt is translating and disseminating Russian primary and secondary sources alongside equivalent resources in in North American, European, and Russian archives. He and his team hope that improved understanding of an agenda on which the U.S. and Russia have long cooperated will inject new life and trust into this bilateral relationship. The 2020 NPT Review Conference lends this project particular timeliness.

For more information on this project, view our “Media” tab above.

Hunt at UN

In March 2020 Dr Hunt was invited to speak at a commemorative event held at United Nations Headquarters in New York, as part of the NPT’s 50th anniversary celebrations. His presentation addressed the significance of the original documents that the Bureau for International Security and Non-Proliferation of the U.S. Department of State released on the occasion of the anniversary, shedding new light on why the U.S. government and the wider international community finalized this globe-spanning pact. He also contributed to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' commemoration of the milestone.

Alongside an edited volume and other scholarly publications his project is producing an interactive guide to the NPT’s text and contexts, modelled on the Interactive Constitution App and website hosted by the National Constitution Center. The Interactive Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty will make expert historical analysis, international documentation, and important background available to global citizens as well as policy makers and legal experts. It will feature an introductory documentary exploring the negotiations and ceremonies associated with the NPT. An interactive guide will feature a timeline of major events hyperlinked to relevant photographs, documents and other contextual information, alongside biographical sketches and photographs of the key actors in the NPT’s negotiating history. A treaty guide will provide a portal to a virtual archive of consortium documents and other documentary sources.

The grant activities will feature a social and public media campaign, including a major publicity effort around the 50th anniversary of the NPT’s entry into force and the 2020 Review Conference of States Parties to the NPT, in concert with digitally available papers, and, afterwards, videos of the panels, will broaden the event’s reach and deepen its impact. The public symposium will mark the high-water mark of the project’s direct outreach to policymakers and practitioners.

List of all staff members in
Staff MemberPrimary Position
Jonathan HuntVisiting Fellow
Alexander FergusonTeaching Fellow in Modern American History
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