Concerns about proliferation of nuclear weapons to rogue States and their possible use by terrorists, has been increased since September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Since then, the administration has updated the U.S National Security Strategy (NSS) against WMD by declaring that nuclear weapons may be used in response to Chemical and Biological threats and has produced a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that asserts that new nuclear weapon capabilities are needed to defeat WMD targets and deeply buried and hardened targets. What kind of message does it send when we are asking other countries not to develop nuclear weapons but developing new ones ourselves? The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) stresses that these new weapon types could more effectively deter States and terrorists since it would be more reasonable that the United States might actually use smaller, more accurate nuclear weapons rather than higher-yield nuclear warheads. Moreover, they argue that the ability to destroy deeply-buried facilities used in the production of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons would dissuade ‘rogue states’ from developing such weapons in the first place. A logic that is inherently flawed since the more threatened the ‘rogue States’ feel, the more incentive they would have to pursue WMD Programmes.
Yet with all the fresh concerns that has been emerged upon the proliferation issue, world powers are not discussing the threat posed by the existing nuclear arsenals and the nuclear weapon policies being followed by nuclear weapon states, especially the unilateralist path that the US nuclear weapon policy is taking under Bush administration. The Bush administration’s Nuclear Posture Review of 2002 expresses an aggressive combination of unilateral military action in support of U.S military interests and the abandonment of long pursued disarmament and non-proliferation policies. The administration’s decision to develop and deploy the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) its upgradation of conventional weaponry and moreover development of ‘mini nukes’ and ‘bunker busters’ represent some of the major shifts in policy with far-reaching effects. The administration professes a reduction in its nuclear forces to the lowest-possible level necessary for deterrence whereas in reality, instead of moving towards reduction U.S nuclear policy has sought to increase its reliance on nuclear weapons.
The US defence establishment is seeking to develop a new generation of nuclear weapons which include both the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) or bunker buster, and low-yield battlefield nuclear weapons or mini-nukes under the Advanced Concepts programme. Under NPR recommendations, the defence establishment is conducting research into developing ‘mini-nukes’ and ‘bunker busters’. New nuclear weapons, intended to enhance the credibility and range of options for the use of nuclear weapons, would also diminish the firewall that has separated nuclear and conventional warfare since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The vulnerable region in this regard is South Asia which very nearly passed by a brink of nuclear warfare a few years back. South Asia is having two nuclear weapon States. India with the aims of becoming superpower by the way of regional power is following the same path of upgradation of its weaponry. Leaving behind no other option for Pakistan to get involved unintentionally in arms race because of security concerns, having its biggest enemy and the only other NWS in South Asia in the very next door. Hence any conventional war can easily transform into a nuclear war having its origins or stimulation towards the initiative taken by the superpower United States.
Bush administration’s weapons policies are violating its international arms control and disarmament obligations and, in the process are damaging the non-proliferation regime giving way to further insecurity and instability by fuelling an arms race, not only in South Asia but worldwide.
‘For some to say that nuclear weapons are good for them but not for others, is simply not sustainable… The most powerful nations must remember that as they do, so shall others do.’(The Nobel Peace Laureates of 2003). What it needs is not more nuclear weapons, missile defence, pre-emptive doctrines, strategies to Combat the Spread of WMDs, Proliferation Security Initiative, aggressive wars, but the real need is to address the rootcauses of terrorism and the reasons behind the efforts by smaller States to acquire WMD’s.
Source: Pakistan Observer, 30/4/2008