Nowadays there are about 40 states that have the technical capacity to produce nuclear weapon. Therefore, it is obvious that, although, the role of nuclear deterrence against the great powers has reduced, none of them will never give up it’s nuclear status. Nowadays the issue of nuclear weapons is inevitable to be considered by each state’s national interest.
During the years of the Cold War the world had accumulated a huge number of nuclear arsenals. The arms race aimed to create ever more powerful and sophisticated warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles, heavy bombers and nuclear submarines. However, the Cold War has ended, there are a lot of nuclear weapons. At the moment, Russia and the United States have enough nuclear warheads to destroy all life on the planet. Other nuclear states, including Britain, France, India, Pakistan and China also have substantial stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
The countries which possess the nuclear weapons, understand that in a global nuclear conflict there will be no winner. Therefore, in the late 1960s the Soviet Union and the United States began negotiations on the limitation and the Strategic Arms Reduction by signing a number of relevant documents. After the collapse of the Soviet Union this process was continued in the Russian-American format.
The reason of nuclear arms race
One of the important problems of global nuclear disarmament is transparency. Not all of the disarming countries provide the complete information about the real extent of their nuclear weapons. For example, China, claiming that it’s nuclear stocks are negligible and keeps information about their extent in secret, citing the reasons of national security. This causes a lack of confidence in the other nuclear powers, who do not want to disarm, worrying that the number of competitor’s nuclear weapons is higher than officially reported.
According to the international law, there is no comprehensive and universal prohibition of the use of nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, in July 1996, the International Court of Justice claimed that international humanitarian law is applicable to the use of nuclear weapons in other words it is prohibited, in fact.
For many years after the first and only case of the use of nuclear weapons in 1945, the international community tried to resolve the difficult question of how the law may be applied to such weapons.
The problem of the threat of nuclear weapons was resolved in particular by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. However, in 1996, the problem of legitimacy was raised again, this time in the advisory opinion of the International Court in response to a request of the General Assembly of the UN.
The International Court of Justice decided that the restrictions imposed by international law on the means and methods of warfare are applicable to nuclear weapons. The court cited as arguments the basic principles of international humanitarian law, in particular the need to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, illegal elections of civilian population as the object of attack and the prohibition to use weapons which by their nature can not distinguish between civilian and military targets or which cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering to combatants.
The Court stated that these principles should be respected by all States, regardless of whether or not they have ratified the relevant international agreements as these principles are the immutable principles of international law.
Although the Court decided that the use of nuclear weapons is hardly compatible with the respect of humanitarian law they said that they could not come to a final conclusion about the legitimacy or illegitimacy of the use of nuclear weapons by a State in the extreme circumstances of self-defense.
Therefore it is justified to have sufficient nuclear capability that can provide deterrence of aggression against solving and implementation of political and military pressure on the country.
The history has turned in a strange way. The threat of global nuclear war has diminished, but the risk of nuclear attack has increased.
All programs of transition to a nuclear-free world, all the proposed steps in this direction, a list of specific actions to be undertaken, yet look enough scholastically. This is because they do not solve the problem. And the point is that in the modern world only nuclear weapons are an extremely important part of military power and are a reliable guarantor for the security of any state.
The United States do not share the view of the need for further nuclear disarmament and nuclear deterrence exclusion from the arsenal of means to ensure the security of the state. Thus, the former US permanent representative to the UN John Bolton said that erroneous position of Barack Obama according to which the decrease in the US nuclear arsenal will make the world safer and will remove the desire of some countries to create nuclear weapons. In his opinion Obama's policy is dangerous for the US and its allies which are under their nuclear umbrella. While Obama thinks that the drastic reduction of nuclear weapons is reducing the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons, in fact, the result of such action would be just the opposite. Former US Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger believes that renounce from nuclear weapons is not worth it because it is not in the interests of the US and the rest of the world.
Why do different nations aim to possess nuclear arsenal?
In fact, more than six decades have passed and there is no new world war, however, the opponents of nuclear deterrence may refute this thesis. World wars were waged by superpowers and were prevented. At the same time, nuclear deterrence even in a very specific form works today. The most obvious example is North Korea and Iran. The ability to have the nuclear programs provides a potential for the creation of nuclear weapons and is quite workable tool to ensure their safety. After all, many experts consider that if Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, the United States would be unlikely to have started a war against Iraq.
The military and political leadership of China since the early years of formation of the state regime have considered the fact that the country should have modern weapons, including nuclear. First of China's nuclear program was adopted in 1951 and had purely peaceful purposes, but in the mid-1950s it was supplemented with secret section with an eye on creating their own nuclear weapons.
Taking a look at the China's nuclear policy the next conclusions can be made. It is aimed at ensuring the implementation of the national development strategy. The main objectives of the current nuclear strategy of China can be summarized as following: Maintaining the status of a great power; Prevention of all forms of exposure on politics and the economy of China by nuclear deterrence; Maintaining superiority over the countries opposing China in the Asia-Pacific region.
The strategic concept of India in the present conditions is based on the implementation of a reliable minimum of nuclear deterrence. In January 2003, the Indian government announced the creation of strategic nuclear command which is intended to streamline and formalize the procedure for making decisions about the use of nuclear weapons by India. Simultaneously a new nuclear doctrine was approved, the provisions of which can be summarized as following: India intends to create and develop the potential of minimally rational deterrence; India respects the principle of nuclear weapons non-usage and it can be used only as a response to a nuclear attack of Indian Territory; Nuclear weapons can not be used against non-nuclear states;
In the case of large-scale military attack on India or Indian Armed Forces with the use of chemical or biological weapons India has the right to answer with a nuclear strike.
In the conclusion it would be important to mention that as a result of the collapse of the bipolar world there is a situation in which each pawn on the geopolitics chessboard wants become a queen. Especially it is about those actors who have tasted the sweetness of participation in the big game. Especially if it is a large nuclear game when only the application form will immediately bring the player into the circle of the elected players. The transition from the lower category to category of equal partnership in the nuclear dialogue flatters the vanity of the political leader and as a kind of bonuses can bring the real economic benefits.
Just as we stood for freedom in the 20th century, we must stand together for the right of people everywhere to live free from fear in the 21st century. And as nuclear power –- as a nuclear power, as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.(Barack Obama)
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