If there is one country that bears responsibility for both nuclear proliferation and nonproliferation, it is the United States. The United States let the nuclear genie out of the bottle when it built nuclear weapons and detonated them over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Now, the United States is trying to coax the genie back into the bottle. Or is it? On one hand, the United States is doing its part to stem the tide of proliferation at home and abroad. On the other hand, the United States often lacks the political will to carry out its nonproliferation intentions. This paper will examine United States successes and failures in nonproliferation to explain how the United States exemplifies both the strengths and weaknesses of international efforts to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The United States has made significant gestures toward nonproliferation but has had poor follow through due to lack of political will.
This paper will examine United States nonproliferation successes and failures in six key areas: nuclear testing, nuclear arms reductions, reliance on nuclear weapons, fissile material reduction, nuclear security, and nonproliferation regime compliance. Each of these areas will demonstrate strengths and weaknesses in United States nonproliferation efforts and the underlying lack of political will.