While the NPT () isn’t dead yet it is sick.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons is bad. For everyone.
It’s one of the very few things that the Soviets and there Americans, and the Chinese, and 191 countries that have signed up to it. There is basically universal agreement. Its been the singularly most successful arms limitation treaty in human history. Its kept the nuclear nightmare in a slumber state for 50 years. It has limited the number of nuclear genies, and that has been absolutely critical to world security and piece.
While there are some states that do questionable work, dual use, work around the edges potentially bad, its still very unfashionable to break or withdraw from the NPT.
One of the most bizarre things said in human history is Trump proclaiming Japan and South Korea should have nuclear weapons and the motivations for him saying that.
Firstly, to make this absolutely clear, Japan does not want or need its own nuclear weapons.
While it could easily assemble the bits in a relatively short amount of time, that is still a huge step to having nuclear weapons ready to launch in tubes within seconds. It is arguable that Japan is the country that is not currently a nuclear power that could have a huge arsenal very quickly weeks or months.
Imagine the difference between having an AK47, disassembled, and buried around your yard. Sure, you could find all the bits, clean them up and assemble the AK47, load it up and be ready to use it. But the effort and time to do that is significant, it would take hours or days or even weeks to do it. While your neighbors might be aware that you have buried Ak47 parts around your house, they know they never have to be concerned about you until they see you digging around, cleaning pieces and assembling it in your lounge room. My neighbors can have disagreements and not feel threatened, the police can visit me and not feel threatened. Any disagreements are going to be low key and relatively calm. Which is good because your two neighbors have property line disagreements with you and sometimes everyone goes out into the backyard and bumps into each other while discussing where our property lines are and squirt each other with garden hoses. No one dies, but it can get pretty emotional.
But if I sit at my porch with an AK47 locked and loaded and point it at everyone who walks by that is a very different situation. Now my neighbors don’t drop by to have a casual chat, they only send formal letters. The police don’t like stopping by because I have my AK47 trained on them up the drive way. It is now very awkward to have meaningful dialog and they have one hand on their weapon the whole time they talk to me.
So Japan doesn’t want nuclear weapons. South Korea doesn’t want them either, and certainly doesn’t want Japan to have them, but will get them if Japan does. China certainly doesn’t want Japan to have them and will mostly maintain and make more of them if she does get them.
Pretty soon every country that was annoyed or invaded by Japan previously (and that’s a long list) is going to want nuclear weapons. Then every country who has an issue or is next to that country will want them. They will be a priority over investing in education, or food, or healthcare.
What use is the US nuclear umbrella if they won’t even secure the third largest economy in the world and good US friend who has US bases on their territory? It would be worthless. Very quickly a whole lot of the worlds GDP is spent betting and investing in its destruction.