Arms Control and the Atlantic Community

Arms Control and the Atlantic Community

Arms Control and the Atlantic Community

Arms Control and the Atlantic Community

Synopsis

U.S. Arms Control Efforts Since 1979: An Overview West European Interests in Arms Control Arms Control Policy Evolution in the Second Reagan Administration Changes in the U.S.-Soviet Relationship The Future

Excerpt

The disaster of Chernobyl contains an important warning for the entire world: any employment of nuclear weapons will have traumatic consequences that at present are not fully realized by either the proponents or opponents of their use, nor is it at all certain that the emerging hostilities would follow the military sequences anticipated by the planning staffs of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO). With human reactions to the employment of nuclear weapons quite unpredictable, especially if the employment should be extensive, the careful anticipation of the evolving battle may be simply an exercise in futility, despite the large stock of different nuclear warheads.

In spite of recurring spurts of glittering rhetoric and the many "peace marches" in Europe and the United States in support of a nuclear-free world, neither superpower nor Great Britain nor France has had the courage during the last few years to follow through with a clear commitment to arms control or even arms reduction. The complexities of the Geneva negotiations, the continuing problem of verification, the bureaucratic and organizational infighting typical in all large governmental bureaucracies, and the always-intruding domestic political dimensions, which cannot be ignored in democracies and are found also to a certain extent in the Soviet Union, have been largely responsible for the lack of progress on the reduction of nuclear weapons.

If we want to avoid future Chernobyls, we must do better in our arms- control efforts. While it is possible to build more and more offensive and defensive nuclear weapons and even perhaps not use them for anything except a dangerous game of "chicken," the stakes for humankind are too high to leave to chance, or perhaps to an accident, the delivery of humanity . . .

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