“The very potency in non-nuclear military striking power that the West presently enjoys has to provide strong motivation for aspiring great powers to seek some non-linear “knight’s move” by way of a strategic offset. Nuclear acquisition, threat, or use could qualify as such a discontinuity for critical strategic effect.” (Gray, 2006, p.35).
While conceding that threat of American intervention is the biggest motivation for smaller nations to develop nuclear weapons, there yet remain other crucial questions. Is it really feasible that we could achieve total or near total nuclear disarmament in the future? Though such an objective is attainable in theory, there are many practical stumbling blocks. In the tense and suspicious atmosphere of international politics, verification of the implementation of disarmament programs is going to be very challenging. Thus, we need to know whether
“the halting of horizontal nuclear proliferation is really so impossible if Moscow and Washington feel that they have to retain substantial nuclear arsenals. There are persuasive arguments that nuclear disarmament of the existing superpowers would actually spur nuclear weapons programs in Iran or Brazil, rather than holding them back by the power of “good example” (Quester, 2008, p.146)
In conclusion, there is little doubt as to the long-term consequences of nuclear arms race – it will inevitably lead to mindless destruction. Hence, the sensible option is deterrence at every level of nuclear weapons development. In order to be able to achieve this end, a significant change in the attitude of participant nations is essential. For starters, the idea of associating nuclear weapons with greater security will have to be dismantled. A renewed respect and adherence to the already subscribed treaties is imperative. Though the threat of a full-fledged nuclear war has somewhat reduced due to diplomatic efforts, all it takes is a press of a button to unleash great human damage. Hence, while there are many valid reasons for horizontal proliferation – the foremost being national security and strategic advantage – unfettered horizontal spread will most likely lead to disaster. Hence, voluntary deterrence is the right approach to adopt. We can derive hope from the fact that
“157 states are now parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which was signed in 1968 – which means there is widespread concern. It also highlights the commitment of the major nuclear weapon states to total nuclear disarmament and reflects the expectations of the non-nuclear weapon states that this commitment will be honoured at an early date.” (Wrobel, 2002, p.6)
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- Gray, C. S. (2006, Spring). Three Visions of Future War: … “Cyberwar,” Nuclear Armageddon, or the Good Old War of the Rifle. Queen’s Quarterly, 103(1), 34+.
- Karsh, E., Navias, M. S., & Sabin, P. (Eds.). (1993). Non-Conventional-Weapons Proliferation in the Middle East: Tackling the Spread of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Capabilities. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
- Krepon, M. (2012, March). A Perpetual Menace: Nuclear Weapons and International Order. Arms Control Today, 42(2), 43+.
- Lord, C. (2001). The Past and Future of Non-proliferation. Naval War College Review,54 (4), 153+.
- Quester, G. H. (2008). Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters. Parameters, 38(4), 143+.
- Singh, J. (1993, October). The Bomb or Peace. UNESCO Courier, 35+.
- Wrobel, P. (2002, November). Testing Times. The World Today, 55 (11), 6+.