Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons
Muir, Malcolm, Air & Space Power Journal
Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons by Joseph Cirincione. Columbia University Press (http://www.columbia .edu/cu/cup), 61 W. 62nd Street, New York, New York 10023, 2007, 224 pages, $27.95 (hardcover) .
The modest size of this book belies its importance. In the compressed span of 157 pages of text, Joseph Cirincione provides an overview of nuclear weapons, the history of their development and deployment, the struggle to control their spread, and the dangers that they pose to us today in the form of nuclear terrorism. Well known in the field of nuclear strategy, he currently serves as senior vice president for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress. Earlier, Cirincione served as director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Bomb Scare is clearly written and dispassionate. The work examines all facets of the nuclear equation, for instance, by giving the arguments for strong nuclear arsenals and then looking at the case for their reduction. Early on, Cirincione does make clear one assumption: that "the proliferation of nuclear weapons is undesirable" (p. xi). Especially useful for the military professional is the author's tracing of attempts to control nuclear weaponry from the Baruch Plan of 1946 through downsizing of Cold War arsenals during the 1990s and beyond. Cirincione highlights the success of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Going into effect in 1970, the treaty today counts 188 signatories, including the five countries (United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, and China) allowed nuclear weaponry; only India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan remain outside the NPT tent. The author estimates that without this agreement, as many as 40 countries-rather than the current nine- would be armed with nuclear weapons. The author argues that the NPT thus represents history's greatest success in arms limitations by diplomatic means.
Cirincione gives credit for lessening the dangers of nuclear proliferation and reducing nuclear arsenals to countries as diverse as Ireland, South Africa, and Libya, as well as to a bipartisan slate of US presidents including Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush. The author also singles out for their effective, albeit disparate, roles Mikhail Gorbachev, Colin Powell, Richard Lugar, and Sam Nunn. These last two, both US senators, were key figures in establishing the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in 1991 to secure nuclear stockpiles in former Soviet republics. Most people have forgotten that in 1992, Ukraine figured as the world's third-largest nuclear power with about 5,000 warheads in its inventory. Today, that country, along with Belarus and Kazakhstan, is no longer a member of the nuclear club. In fact, the world's arsenal has dropped in the past 20 years from 65,000 warheads in 1986 to 27,000 in 2006 (with Russia holding 16,000; the United States 9,900; and the seven other nations about 1,000). …