Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones: A Northern European Perspective
At their first meeting, at Geneva in 1985, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev cheered the world with a categorical statement that nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. The logical conclusion of this view is that the politics of nuclear weapons must aim at ensuring these weapons are never used as instruments of war. Simply speaking, we find in contemporary politics two approaches to achieving this goal: (1) to maintain a stable stalemate by a mutually credible balance of terror, and (2) to abolish nuclear weapons. The first method has been represented by both unilateral armaments policies and the SALT agreements. In very recent years the superpowers have raised expectations that the second method might (perhaps) be approaching their negotiating agenda.
Efforts to establish nuclear-weapon-free zones (NWFZ) partly reflect the second approach. They represent an abolitionist attitude to the extent that they are intended as steps toward the total banning of nuclear weapons. They may also be understood as a middle attitude, as attempts to create regional sanctuaries, and as endeavors to reduce the risk of being exposed to the destruction of nuclear war. This essay deals with the politics surrounding the issue of a regional nuclear-weapon-free zone in northern Europe. In the present context one important question is whether the NWFZ issue has any bearing on broader issues of European--particularly central European--security.