As one of the world’s most secretive and isolated countries, the communist state of North Korea and its pursuit of nuclear weapons is both worrisome and fascinating in study. The entwined history of the North and the United States is vital in understanding why the rogue state has for so long sought a nuclear deterrent. So how did it all start?
The desire for nuclear non-proliferation by people within society has been prevalent since the first detonation of a nuclear weapon in 1945. However, this desire for non-proliferation increased throughout the latter half of the 1940’s and through to the 1950’s. In 1957 the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was formed, this organisation advocates unilateral nuclear disarmament, as well as international nuclear disarmament and tighter international arms regulation through agreements such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“One nuclear weapon exploded in one city – be it New York or Moscow, Islamabad or Mumbai, Tokyo or Tel Aviv, Paris or Prague- could kill hundreds of thousands of people. And no matter where it happens, there is no end to what the consequences might be- for our global safety, our security, our society, our economy, to our ultimate survival.” – President Barack Obama
The ‘Islamic bomb’ was introduced in the 1970’s and is perceived to be the desire for Pan-Islamic nuclear capability amongst Muslim countries. It is understood to be through the notions of religious ties, that the ‘Islamic bomb’ would be acquired.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (Pakistani prime minister 1971-77) once said, ‘There was a Christian bomb, a Jewish bomb, and now a Hindu bomb. Why not an Islamic bomb?’ A statement as such certainly would raise concern particularly in Washington- Was Samuel Huntington correct in arguing that the fundamental problem for the West was Islam?
The treaty on the Non-Proliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) set out to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology as well as promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy. There are a handful of nations uninvolved in the treaty that have, or at least thought to have, developed nuclear weapons, these countries will be my focus, looking particularly at Israel and Pakistan and the controversy that surrounds their nuclear weapons programmes. The NPT came into force in 1970 with 190 parties having signed it, five of these were nuclear weapon states.
Deterrence theory in terms of nuclear weaponry is the idea that nuclear weapons are intended to deter other states from attacking with their nuclear weapons through the promise of retaliation and possibly mutually assured destruction, however when this theory comes into practice, does it hold up?
Donald J. Trump ran for President as the so-called outsider. He had no political experience. He was after all just a businessman. The businessman angle was one Mr. Trump drove home during his campaign rallies. His key message being that because of his business knowledge and skill in creating deals he would make sure that if elected America got the best deals possible in all aspects of government. One of the major deals trump referenced was the Iran nuclear deal signed between Iran, the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
The emergence of nuclear weapons has been a source of big impact on the international power structure. As Michael Horowitz states “for reasons related to their magnitude relative to conventional weapons, nuclear weapons have changed the character of warfare”. Initially the United States monopoly over the atomic weapons definitely made it the most powerful nation in the world.
The first sign of Great Britain producing a weapon of mass destruction surfaced in the 1940s, however it was not until October 1952 when an independent nuclear weapon, appropriately named ‘Hurricane’, was publicly tested. Since then, Britain has collected a stockpile of over 220 warheads but only a British nuclear service named the ‘Trident Nuclear Programme’, has control over them. They have recently announced plans to lower this number due to the strong stance held by Britain on nuclear non-proliferation outside of nuclear states.
Contemporary issues about nuclear non-proliferation are somewhat limited in scope to the average person. At this point, I think that it needs to be recognised that there is a significant difference between disarmament and non-proliferation. Most people would argue either in favour of nuclear weapons or against. However, the depth to this debate has not largely extended in ordinary conversation and it is important to consider that nuclear devices are weapons, but also used as political aids. ‘Loose nukes’ is a term used to describe poorly guarded weapons and material, particularly in Russia, that may fall into the wrong hands. This article will discuss matters of loose nukes and their effect on non-proliferation.