To maintain 'a suprising nuclear stability
(Page 2 of 2)
The other contentious area is the accusation that the superpowers have not done their share in arms control. But the relation between nonproliferation and other arms control regimes is not as simple as it first appears. The usual connections are made by provisions like Article 6 of the NPT, calling for a halt to the "vertical proliferation" of the arms of the superpowers.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
This gives rise to certain paradoxes in nonproliferation policy. Ironically, calculability and stability of deterence between the United States and the Soviet Union has occurred over time and at high levels of weaponry. By historical evolution, this pattern has produced prudence in their relationship and extended deterrence to their allies who have thus been able to eschew the development of nuclear weaponry. Changes in the balance which are perceived as weakening the credibility are deterrence not only threaten the stability of the central relationship but reduce the sense of security that permits allied states to forswear proliferation. It is paradoxical but true that under many circumstances the introduction of a single weapon in a new state may be more likely to lead to nuclear use than the introduction of an additional thousand each by the United States and the Soviet Union.
On the other hand, the profess indifference to the superpower nuclear arms relationship can weaken the nonproliferation regime in two different ways. First, a disdain for the arms control institutions and concerns expressed by nonweapons states can exacerbate the discrimiantion issue that is the central dilemma in nonproliferation policy; the halting of SALT hurt here. Second, nuclear doctrines which overly stress the usefulness of nuclear weapons in warfighting situations may help to increase the credibility of deterrence, but they also tend to make nuclear weapons look more attractive to others.If states that have deliberately eschewed nuclear weapons see them treated increasingly like conventional defensive weapons, they may one day reconsider their decisions. In short, the relation between nonproliferation and the general nuclear arms control regimes will require a sensitivitiy to both horns of the dilemma during what promises to be a difficult period in the superpower relationship.
After the conference is over, the United States will need a steady policy that balances these complex trade-offs in both the nuclear energy and nuclear strategy areas. On the nuclear fuel cycle, to a very considerable extent, leadership in the job of maintaining the nonproliferation regime is now shared. But collective leadership is difficult to manage. On the second issue, we must not let our fundamental rivalry with the Soviet Union blind us to our shared interest in slowing proliferation.
The wrong policies in the 1980s, i.e., policies that put us in an overly rigid position on the nuclear fuel cycle or which lower the priority we give to the issue in security terms, could still sacrifice the current modest success in regime maintenance. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution to the political problem of proliferation. But given the difficulty of constructing international institutions in a world of sovereign states, and the risks attendant upon their collapse, political wisdoms begins with efforts to maintain the existing regime with its presumption against proliferation.