The new nuclear arms race: Why is it that governments are re-investing in nuclear weapons and capabilities, that are broadly futile for inner-state and asymmetrical conflicts?

Hardly anybody talks about it, but nation states are again investing a lot of money in their nuclear capabilities. After the end of the Cold War, nukes were apparently losing their fatal attraction. Now this has been reversed. The U.S., China and Russia are all introducing new attack weapons, but also BMD (ballistic missile defense) systems. Dozens of billions of dollars are invested here for modernization and upgrading.
If this is compatible with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which commits the member states to eliminate nukes or to at least show good faith to eliminate them, is doubtful. In addition, the club of the five nuclear states after WW2 is expanding, and keeps expanding (Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea, possibly Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.).
No wonder that the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has just moved their famous “doomsday clock” (symbolically telling us how far we are from total destruction) two minutes closer to midnight. It´s now three minutes to midnight – the closest since 1983.

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  1. Shen Dingli 3 years ago

    While some governments are reinvesting in nuclear weapons, they are relocating, redeploying or simply reinvesting more on advanced conventional weapons. They are doing this for hedging, preparing for the possible worst scenario.
    For America, the possible worst scenarios are many: Russia’s military coercion on its neighbors, encroaching on territory of Georgia and Ukrainian; resurgence of terrorism and radicalism in the Middle East and South/Central Asia; and the uncertainty associated with China’s rise. The US is dealing with such ongoing or latent threats more on its conventional capability, rather than nuclear weapons.
    For others, they are investing both conventional and unconventional means vis-à-vis threats they face, mostly associated with the US meddling. The US preemption against Iraq in the past decade has pressed North Korea and Iran etc. to build up their advanced arsenals as a hedge. The US response to Jasmine Revolution in Syria etc. has not only weakened the local regime, unleashing the ISIL force, but also exerted more pressure on Pyongyang to stick to its nuclear wherewithal.
    In Russia’s view, America’s intervention to topple Yanukovich has undermined Moscow’s peripheral security and warrants more defense modernization on its part. In China’s perspective, the US “rebalance” strategy to defend Japan in Tokyo’s dispute with Beijing over Diaoyu/Senkakus Islands, and America’s strengthening of alliance with Manila and military partnership with Hanoi, in the context of their disputes with China over claims on South China Sea, forces China to further modernize its conventional and nuclear forces.
    Therefore, the ongoing international politics has not eased the perception and subsequent need for advanced weaponry such as nuclear arms. This may little change for the present decade, except for the easing of Iranian nuclear issue should a proper bargain be made in the coming weeks.

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  2. Alexei Voskressenski 3 years ago

    Everybody started to speak about possible ‘rebalancing’ in every sphere including a military one. The relative but not absolute decline of the USA (though the total share of the US GDP never was less than 25% of the global output for the last 110 years), the rise and economic rebalancing of the Rest, the possibility to somehow replace the states that do not keep with the accelerated pace of global development sparkled the false perception that the weakened economic performance may be rebalanced by new types of weapons of mass destructions that will ‘fix’ the international status or guarantee the national well-being. The issue that these weapons cannot be used because of their deadly character is already forgotten or dispersed because of the sophisticated neutron bombs, nukes with ‘local destruction’ capabilities or TMD initiatives.
    That also reflects the generational change – the loss of the Sakharov’s generation of people who understand that because they invented these weapons. The fall of the USSR, the rise of China and the possible rise of India that may happen just in historical seconds gave a false perception that the re-investment in nuclear weapons can add safety and defend against an economic insecurity and a new wave of archaic aggressiveness. In reality they are futile for inner-state or asymmetrical conflicts. This represents a new and dangerous historical cycle of changed perceptions within power elites. We must somehow change this trend before any deadly conflict occurs otherwise the mankind may see the real end of history with the last man that may physically be the last one on Earth.

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  3. Dmitri Mitin 3 years ago

    I submit that nuclear weapons remain as irrelevant as ever. The rate of post-Cold War WMD proliferation is far below what most experts predicted. Despite a heightened sense of distrust, Russia and the U.S.
    continue to comply with the strategic arms reduction obligations. As a matter of fact, the number of deployed nuclear weapons, the lowest in more than half a century, continues to decline. A U.S.-Iran nuclear deal remains questionable, but the process of such negotiations attests to the less paranoid foreign policy stance on the part of both sides.
    The relationship between India and Pakistan, tense as it may be, is not on a downward trend. North Korea, the only actor vigorously pursuing nuclear modernization, is technologically handicapped and, quite plausibly, incapable of indigenously developing a sophisticated weapons capability or means of delivery. To be clear, nuclear weapons continue to represent a formidable threat. But, at least for now, nuclear holocaust stays off my top five problems that should keep us awake at night.

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  1. Mathias J. Jongkor 3 years ago

    Historically, the 1st, World War led for the formation of the League of Nations. Nevertheless, the League of Nations failed because, the former US President Woodrow Wilson refused to joint the League, Germany and Russia, Japan and others were not allowed to joint the league. At the same time, the sanction was enforce to aggressor nations.

    That tension led to the 2nd World War in which brought to the formation of the United Nations. Former US President John F. Kennedy said at the United Nation General Assembly; “Mankind must put an end to war- or war will put an end to mankind. The weapons of war must be abolished before they abolish us”.

    I think arms raise is the one of the motivation for governments in the planet. Developed governments want such as five-club want to invest money to boost in their technology. Developing government’s feel like they have been left beyond in development, and least developed governments, want to cash up developed governments.

    All governments want to invest their money for several reasons: One reason, the governments who feel in fear from its neighbors such as Iran and Israel, want to invest their money on nuclear weapons, when the trust is missing between them. Russia wants to secure its border by investing its money for technology. Naturally, the governments with behavior can invest money on nuclear proliferation just to be like other governments.

    Wealthy governments can look forward to invest their money into plastic missile to protect its wealth. These are examples of the motivations for governments investing on nuclear weapons.

    So, those governments should learn from 1st world war and 2nd world war and adopt the European Union system (EU) because it is the best Inter-governmental organization for the west in the world which is success in the international relations. All regional Inter-governmental organizations, for instance, AU, ASIAN should adopt that system to minimize mankind conflicts.

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  2. seawithoutshore 3 years ago

    This is a good question. But I think what we’re mostly talking about is Iran. How timely this question is, given the recent agreement by the P5+1 for a framework for a nuclear deal. In terms of nuclear security, I think the real challenge for the international community are countries like the DPRK, Pakistan, and even Israel. Not Russia, United States, China, and the rest of the gang.

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