Nation: The Nonproliferation Treaty: Another Step

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A more abstract, but nonetheless emotionally powerful argument against NPT for the now and future advanced nations is that they surrender part of their sovereignty if they pledge themselves to abstain from developing the only weapons that confer big-league status. Also, Europeans in particular question America's willingness to expose its own cities to nuclear retaliation by launching ICBMs against the Soviet Union if the Russians should attack Western Europe.

Three Senators offered amendments to NPT, and all were defeated. North Carolina's Sam Ervin wanted to make it clear that the U.S. did not have to defend nonnuclear states against aggression, but other Senators in favor of the treaty argued that the U.S. is already in effect so bound by the U.N. Charter. Texas Republican John Tower proposed to spell out the right of the U.S. to supply nuclear weapons to NATO allies; since the weapons would remain in U.S. control, there would be no violation of NPT.

While 87 nations have signed the treaty, expressing their intent to approve it, the number of countries that have completed ratification will come to only eleven when President Nixon formally puts his name to NPT. The treaty will not come into force until the three participating nuclear powers and 40 other nations have ratified it. That process will take another year or more.

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