The United States and the states of Europe occupy a special place in the nuclear world. They include three official nuclear weapons states and a host of others under the protection of NATO’s nuclear umbrella. They produce sixty-five percent of the world’s nuclear power, and include major developers and exporters of nuclear technology. They are acutely threatened by the twin prospects of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation. And perhaps uniquely amongst nations, their combined political, economic, and military power presents them the opportunity to effectively confront these challenges.
Indeed, despite frequent discord, the United States and its European partners share a raft of common goals and more consensus on methods for achieving them than is often realized. When they attend the 2005 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, to be held at the United Nations from May 2 to May 20, 2005, they will all find much more in common with each other than they will with most of the rest of the world. They will be most successful in achieving their goals if they work together to promote common solutions in areas of shared interest—and there are many. They will also do well to be wary of potential splits—particularly on Iran and the Middle East—and invest in efforts to ensure that their combined strength is not sapped by charged but isolated disagreement.