Treaties can be denounced and withdrawn from unilaterally and collectively. We ask when it would be legitimate to abandon the NPT, a treaty that 50 years ago committed states to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, but still has not delivered on the latter. The end of the NPT is a taboo subject in the arms control community that sees it as the cornerstone of the nuclear order. We draw on literature on the legitimacy of and exit from international institutions. We especially explore the political substance of the discontent that the non-nuclear weapons states have expressed in and outside the NPT forum. Exiting the NPT can legitimately be used as a political tool to challenge the current status quo where five states claim a right to possess nuclear weapons based on the NPT, and to achieve a nuclear order where nuclear weapons are illegal for all.
Pretorius, J., & Sauer, T. (2022). When is it legitimate to abandon the NPT? Withdrawal as a political tool to move nuclear disarmament forward. Contemporary Security Policy, 43(1), 161–185. https://doi.org/10.1080/13523260.2021.2009695