|What problems for nuclear deterrence does the proliferation of nuclear weapons create?
|| PRINTABLE VERSION
| Since the dropping of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan on August 6, 1945, the United States has steadily enforced its policies of strategic nuclear deterrence. The strategy of deterrence was vital during the Cold War Era because of the increased threat of the Soviet Union, spreading communism around the world while increasing its stock of nuclear weapons. Today we live in an era in which the threat of the use of nuclear weapons is no longer as prevalent as during the Cold War. Almost two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the United States retains its Cold War sentiment and strategic nuclear policies. Such policies pose grave problems in the pursuit to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The United States has maintained its Cold War strategic military strategy, making deterrence the forefront of its nuclear policies. In an ever-changing post-Cold War world, this policy and strategy has backfired due to the lack of an opposing world superpower. Nations view the United States, the only remaining super power to emerge from the Cold War, as a nation that, due to its power, takes it upon itself to force its views and beliefs and way of thinking upon the world, much like the Soviet Union did during the Cold War. Every military action that is taken, the world views as an act of “classic American imperialism”. Many nations view the unchecked, unrestricted power of the United States as a threat to their own national security and well-being. Other nations view America’s power as a pretext to build up arms, stating that if America can have as many weapons as it does and be as powerful as it is, then all other nations are justified to have equal or greater power so as to tip the balance of power in their favor.
One classic example of a nation that uses the United States’ policies of nuclear deterrence as a pretext to build its own nuclear weapons is North Korea. North Korea deceived the United States and the world by signing an agreement in 1991 stating that it would cease its nuclear weapons development program in exchange for US goods for its citizens. North Korea had no intention to truthfully honor that agreement and continued to pursue its illegal research. When, in 1995, it was discovered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that North Korea was not adhering to the agreement, it finally admitted to producing weapons-grade uranium for use in nuclear weapons research.
It even took it a step further a few years later by saying that it possessed at least one nuclear weapon. Years later, after the discovery of its active nuclear program, North Korea began production of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This new missile was named the Taep’o Dong-2 ICBM. Its predicted range is 12,000 km. It has the capability to hit the United States West Coast directly, and was predicted to be able to strike as far as Washington D.C. On October 6th, 2006, North Korea detonated an underground nuclear device, further destabilizing the global balance of power and global peace as it issued threats of war against Japan and the United States.
A second problem that proliferation of nuclear weapons creates for deterrence is that rogue nations who proliferate nuclear weapons have the capability to provide the technology and materials needed to produce nuclear weapons to terrorist organizations. The biggest threat would come from the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization because of its size, its sheer complex make-up, and its ability to conduct terrorist operations virtually anywhere in the world.
Nuclear deterrence is a good strategy today against nations who already have nuclear weapons as it gives aggressive nations willing to use the bomb a moment to pause before making the decision to wage an all-out nuclear war. However, militarily aggressive nations who wish to develop nuclear weapons can justify the proliferation of such weapons by stating that if other nations are allowed to keep an inventory of nuclear weapons whose existence poses a threat to their national defense, they are justified to do everything within their power to counter all external threats and protect their citizens. They could argue that it is their sovereign right to do so. It is the responsibility of the international community to do all in its power to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to discuss ways of eliminating such weapons, leading to the decreased need for nuclear deterrence, and creating a more personal and less dangerous world. If we as a civilized race fail to do this, we so at our own peril.
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Kayamone A. Sutton
My name is Kayamone Sutton. I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan (USA). I am currently 21 years old and am serving in the United States Navy as an Operations Specialist stationed onboard the USS San Jacinto (CG-56) a guided missile cruiser based out of Norfolk, Virginia.
I am currently working on my bachelors degree in International Relations. My current long range goal is to one day become President of the United States. My current short-term goal is to run for Mayor of Flint, Michigan upon completion of my time serving in the US Navy.
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