Achieving Nonproliferation Goals: Moving from Denial to Technology Governance

June 10, 2009

Policy Analysis Brief for The Stanley Foundation

Traditional state-centric approaches to nonproliferation cannot adequately address the proliferation pressures that will continue to mount under globalization. The diffusion of technology and the rise of nonstate actors will render existing frameworks and mechanisms anachronistic in the struggle to prevent catastrophic terrorism. In addition, the anticipated widespread "nuclear renaissance" and accelerating advances in biotechnology require recognition that denial regimes will have increasingly limited efficacy in countering potential proliferation threats. Our long-term nonproliferation goals will only be achieved by reducing global inequities in a serious effort to ensure worldwide minimum standards of technology governance. This article will discuss the potential threats that arise from the diffusion of technology in a globalized world, the waning efficacy of technology denial in containing proliferation pressures, and the need to move to a model based on technology governance. UN Security Council Resolution 1540 provides the mandate and potential mechanism to start moving expeditiously toward global standards and capacity for effective technology governance-within and between states. Achievement of sustainable implementation of the resolution will require turning its objectives into an opportunity for mutually beneficial North-South cooperation and making long-term investments in a shared future.

Written by

  • Elizabeth Turpen
    Nuclear security expert, associate at Booz Allen Hamilton and formerly of the Henry L. Stimson Center