By George Perkovich and James M. Acton, editors
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Additional info for Abolishing Nuclear weapons: a debate
Moreover, an aspiring nuclear-armed power would need to weigh the political and strategic gains it hoped to make against risks and costs of proliferation that presumably would be much 46 | George Perkovich and James M. Acton greater than in today’s world. The proliferator would be breaking a truly global anti-nuclear-weapons norm, rather than seeking to join a handful of nuclear-weapons possessors in a divided, inequitable nuclear order of ’haves‘ and ’have-nots‘. In other words, the political, economic and security barriers to nuclear armament would be high enough to outweigh any hoped-for gains to be made from seeking to balance the arsenals of states moving towards zero.
The US would only eliminate its last nuclear weapons at the same time as all other actors, including China, eliminated theirs, with verification and enforcement provisions negotiated to all states’ satisfaction. In this scenario, the nuclear threats against which the US currently provides an umbrella nuclear deterrent would have been removed. The US would presumably maintain its security commitments to allies and be prepared to meet these commitments with conventional means. The conventional balancing requirement could be met by building up US and Japanese capabilities to substitute for the loss of nuclear deterrence — assuming this were still necessary in the absence of Chinese nuclear weapons — or by conventional arms control.
Iran was caught violating its IAEA safeguards agreement. The detection system worked in time, before Iran acquired fissile materials or nuclear weapons. The responsible enforcement authorities were summoned. They ordered Iran to freeze — to stop its suspicious, potentially threatening activities until their peaceful nature could be established and confidence in Iran’s intentions restored. But six years after its clandestine activities were discovered, Iran is still staring down the enforcement authorities — the IAEA board of governors and the UN Security Council — having defiantly taken steps that it was expressly ordered not to.