Deterrence and Nuclear Proliferation in the Twenty-First Century

By Stephen J. Cimbala | Go to book overview

5

Proliferation and Pragmatism: Nonproliferation Policy for the Twenty-First Century

William C. Martel

While the end of the twentieth century is marked by numerous successes in foreign policy, unfortunately the same is not true for nonproliferation. Despite the best efforts of the United States and many other countries, we are seeing the end of nonproliferation. Most ominously, India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons in 1998 and declared their status as nuclear states. Further, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are actively seeking to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Most recently, in October 1999 the United States refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The cumulative effect is a monumental failure of the institutions, regimes, and norms that defined nonproliferation throughout the Cold War.

Fundamentally, U.S. policy advanced the principles that most states do not have legitimate reasons for possessing nuclear weapons, that nuclear proliferation represented a grave threat to U.S. interests, and that adding nuclear powers would increase the chance of nuclear war. Accordingly, the United States sought to limit the number of states to the nuclear signatories of the NPT, notably the United States, the Soviet Union, France, Britain, and, later, China. 1 Furthermore, the United States used international regimes to enforce the ban on the spread of nuclear technologies and materials and the means for delivering such weapons. While this policy was sensible and effective during the Cold War, a number of factors have undermined its effectiveness.

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