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Nuclear Arms Control, Disarmament and Nonproliferation Regimes in Deep Crisis

By Tom Sauer

Discussions on nuclear weapons are becoming more and more polarized. Nuclear armed states and their allies remain in favor of the status quo, while a number of experts as well as non-nuclear states urge them to take concrete steps to nuclear elimination. 

This essay examines the main arguments of the parties involved in the ongoing discussion on nuclear weapons through the lens of their opponents. Whilst nuclear abolitionists are confronted with rising tensions in international politics that may not build an environment for deep cuts, nuclear hawks must admit that in contrary to their overarching argument there are escalating conflicts between nuclear powers in the real world, as we have seen in the Indian–Pakistani conflict lately. Nuclear arms controllers recognize the malfunctioning and the dismantling of cooperative arms control, and the NPT is under pressure. Once installed to avoid a world with 30-40 nuclear armed countries, one must conceive that  the NPT may have slowed proliferation, but it was not able to halt it, neither to get nuclear powers to dismantle their stockpiles. This explains the arrival of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW, or Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty).

Given the fact that Russia and the U.S own more than 90 % of the world’s nuclear weapons, the crisis of nuclear arms control is due to the worsening political relationship between both countries after the Cold War. The West has failed to integrate Russia into its security architecture.

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