A notable difference between the NPT and NPT 2.0 would have to be that the updated version would not encourage the propagation of nuclear power. Aside from a few spectacular disasters, nuclear power has been reasonably successful in most advanced nations -- but only because of overt and covert government subsidies. However, these subsidies and the attendant political favoritism have in fact harmed the nuclear industry by perpetuating subpar and, in some cases, outright dangerous reactor designs.
In the United States -- the biggest user of nuclear power -- the industry continues to receive enormous insurance bail-outs under the ancient 1957 Price-Anderson Act, which limits the liability of the nuclear industry in case of a major nuclear accident and artificially cheapens the price it pays for insurance. As a result, nuclear power itself appears artificially cheap, one among several reasons that it continues to displace renewables and other energy sources in the not-so-free-market. If the nuclear industry had to buy its own insurance on the free-market, nuclear power -- at least the current incarnations of it -- would be unaffordably expensive. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports that many nuclear suppliers have explicitly said that "without Price-Anderson coverage, they would not participate in the nuclear industry." Another covert subsidy is that governments worldwide underwrite nuclear waste disposal.
If an industry that has benefited from massive government research and development and other subsidies for more than five decades, and which creates staggering unresolved waste disposal problems, raises proliferation issues, and poses serious risks to human health, cannot survive without government support, then perhaps it should be left to its fate in the free market.
And the same goes for all energy sources: removing subsidies and pricing all types of power right will make them all more expensive, which will encourage much needed conservation and innovation all-around. In fact, a truly free market may well come up with cost-effective and safer new nuclear power reactors, but not if the dodgy old designs simultaneously continue to be heavily subsidized. One thing that certainly does not make sense is to have a treaty to force-feed a flawed and dangerous Beatles-era technology to developing nations, as the NPT now does. Just as there is no treaty to send landline rotary phone technology to developing nations in the era of cell phones, there's also no pressing reason to pass on outdated nuclear technology to non-nuclear-weapon states.
Nuclear power advocates often claim that the imperative of climate change argues for "zero carbon" nuclear power. But life-cycle carbon emissions from nuclear power are far from zero: the uranium has to be mined, milled, and transported, and the plant itself has to be constructed and decommissioned, and the waste disposed of -- all of which are carbon intensive steps. A study published in Energy Policy found that nuclear power emits roughly twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic, and six times as much as onshore wind farms. And as the available uranium ore grades progressively decline this equation will only worsen for nuclear.
So the current NPT provision that technologically advanced nations and the nuclear-weapon states provide nuclear know-how to lesser developed states could be augmented -- or even replaced -- in a NPT 2.0 by a clause encouraging the transfer of renewable energy and energy efficiency technology as well.
The bottom line is that, although the NPT has done its job well for 40-plus years, it is already many years past time to critically examine its fundamental tenets to see if they still make any sense. Nuclear power is not the panacea it was thought to be back when cars had tailfins. And the states that have nuclear weapons -- especially Russia and the United States -- don't have any need for their vastly bloated and hyper-expensive nuclear stockpiles.
The 1960s-era NPT has been a swell ride, but the wheels are now coming off -- we need to stop tinkering with the dangerous old jalopy and get a new, safer, ride.