Skip to main content Accessibility help
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

5 - Arms Control, Disarmament, Nonproliferation, and Safeguards


They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

– Isaiah 2:4


Weapons of war have become much more sophisticated than the swords and spears that were popular in the days of Isaiah. Indeed, most international efforts in the arms control and disarmament arena, with the notable exception of land mines, have focused on weapons of mass destruction – nuclear, chemical, and biological. Most wars are fought, however, and most people have been killed, not by weapons of mass destruction but by small arms and light weapons – such as pistols, assault rifles, and hand grenades. It has been estimated that some 6 million people have been killed in armed conflicts around the world in the last decade, half of them by small arms, rather than by tanks and rockets. Most of these armed conflicts have been civil wars rather than cross-border conflicts.

This killing is greatly abetted by a thriving trade in arms, with between 4 to 6 billion weapons a year changing hands. The biggest-grossing producers involved in this arms trade are the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia – four of the five permanent members of the Security Council. Together, these four countries export 83 percent of the world's arms. The United States is the leading exporter of such weapons. In 2006 the amount of U.S. authorized small arms exports was valued at $643 million, according to the Small Arms Survey, a nongovernmental organization based in Geneva.

Fishman, T.C., Making a Killing: The Myth of Capital's Good Intentions, HARPER'S, AUG. 2002, at 33, 39
Chivers, C.J., U.S. Position Complicates Global Effort to Curb Illicit Arms, N.Y. TIMES, July 19, 2008, at A5, col. 1
Robbins, C.A., Disarming America's Treaties, WALL ST. J. July 19, 2002, at A4, col. 3
Fidler, David P., International Law and Weapons of Mass Destruction: End of the Arms Control Approach?, 14 DUKE J. COMP. & INT'L L. 39 (2004)
Murphy, John F., Force and Arms, inTHE UNITED NATIONS and INTERNATIONAL LAW 97, 122–29 (Joyner, C.C. ed., 1997)
Garvey, Jack I., A New Architecture for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, 12 J. CONFLICT SEC. L.339, 340 (2008)
Fidler, David P., International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism Enters into Force, ASIL INSIGHT, August 7, 2008, at 3
Johnson, Larry D., The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism and September 11th: Wake-Up Call to Get the Treaties Right, 31 DENV. J. INT'L L. POL'Y80,81 (2002–2003)
Robbins, Carla Anne, Thinking the Unthinkable: A World Without Nuclear Weapons, N.Y. TIMES, June 30, 2008, at A1, col. 1
Solomon, Jay, Russian Nuclear Pact Stalls, WALL ST. J., Aug. 23–24, 2008, at A1, col. 3
Grotto, Andrew J., Iran, the IAEA, and the UN, ASIL INSIGHT, November 2002
Kittrie, Orde F., Emboldened By Impunity: The History and Consequences of Failure To Enforce Iranian Violations of International Law, 57 SYRACUSE L. REV. 519 (2007)
Sciolino, Elaine, Atomic Monitor Signals Concern Over Iran's Work, N.Y. TIMES, May 27, 2008, at A1, col. 6
Miller, Steven E., The Real Crisis: North Korea's Nuclear Gambit, HARV. INT'L L. REV., 2003, at 84
Kittrie, Orde, Averting Catastrophe: Why The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Is Losing Its Deterrence Capacity And How To Restore It, 28 MICH. J. INT'L L. 337,372 (2007)
Bolton, John R., The Tragic End of Bush's North Korea Policy, WALL ST. J., July 30, 2008, at A13, col. 1
Bolton, John R., Bush's North Korea Nuclear Abdication, WALL ST. J., June 8, 2008, at A15, col. 1
Rice, Condoleezza, Diplomacy Is Working on North Korea, WALL ST. J., June 26, 2008, at A 15, col. 2
Bolton, John R., The Tragic End of Bush's North Korea Policy, WALL ST. J., July 30, 2008, at A13, col. 1
Sang-Hun, Choe, North Korea Says It Stopped Disabling Nuclear Complex, N.Y. TIMES, Aug. 27, 2008, at A6, col. 5
Beard, Jack M., The Shortcomings of Indeterminancy in Arms Control Regimes: The Case of the Biological Weapons Convention, 101 AM. J. INT'L L. 271 (2007)
Bolton, John R., While Diplomats Dither, Iran Builds Nukes, WALL ST. J., Aug. 5, 2008, at A19, col. 1