NUCLEAR solutions (Part 1) for the short-term

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Jump To: US sign the Treaty ~ Significance of the Treaty ~ Signing vs Ratifying ~ Unilateral vs Multilateral ~ Conditional Ratification ~ Arguments for Signing

Global Pressures on the US to sign –>

If we are to survive as a planet, we simply cannot risk waiting around for politicians to make the necessary shifts in climate policies and practices. We cannot wait for others to take the lead. We cannot wait and see whether new solutions will come along to replace the ones we already know about. To address the climate crisis, the IPCC has set very clear-cut, time-bound short-term goals for 2030 and medium-term goals for 2050. We need to set clear-cut and time-bound goals for eliminating the threat posed by nuclear weapons, since that needs to be addressed, if anything, even more urgently than the climate crisis.

We know that a nuclear accident, misunderstanding, or miscalculation could lead to a catastrophic nuclear exchange at any moment, any day. We know that the risks increase every single day that we do not address this issue. The threat of nuclear war today is more real and more present than at any time during the entire history of the nuclear age, amid the current tensions and hostilities between the US and Russia over Ukraine, between the US and China over Taiwan, as well as in many other possible flashpoints around the world.[1]

The short-term climate goal, to cut global carbon emissions to 30 GtCO2-eq by 2030, sets the stage for the medium-term climate goal, to stop burning fossil fuels and achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

And just as with climate, the short-term goal can’t just look like a positive step in the right direction. There are other options that fall short of total elimination,[2] but as long as one country retains even one nuclear weapon, the threat posed to other countries will remain, and therefore the incentive for other countries to have their own nuclear weapons in response will continue.

The short-term nuclear weapons goal must lessen the immediate danger and lead decisively and unequivocally to the medium-term goal of completely eliminating them.

In Chapter 9, we looked at various incremental and “realistic” steps that might reduce the threat or likelihood of nuclear war.[3] But do these various measures address the problem of nuclear weapons at the scale and with the urgency required to save the planet? Just as with the climate crisis, proposing more limited steps and solutions that don’t get at the root of the problem can actually help to legitimize the continued existence of the problem.

We need something more substantial. And we have it.

Calling on the US to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty

What is the one thing that the US can do to demonstrate its unequivocal and irreversible commitment to the elimination of all nuclear weapons?

As some have suggested, the US could “actively pursue” more negotiations. But the US has already promised for decades (see Chapter 8) to negotiate “in good faith” and “at an early date” the complete elimination of its nuclear weapons, both in Article VI of the NPT and in its subsequent “unequivocal undertakings” at the UN. So, making yet more such promises would seem superfluous – and ring rather hollow to those who have heard this repeated every year at the United Nations.[4]

Another approach might be for the US to take the unilateral step of removing its nuclear weapons from operational status. As far as we know, China has already done that. Russia, however, has not. It is therefore a big leap for a US President to unilaterally pull US nuclear forces off the table while Russia’s nuclear forces remain fully operational.

The easiest and most effective thing a US President can do, right now, to signal once and for all time that the US is finally serious about eliminating all nuclear weapons, is to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

A US President can sign international treaties without needing congressional approval. And while it is a clear commitment to disarm, signing the TPNW by itself would not legally force the US to take any specific, immediate action.[5] No instant disarmament, no fear of being a sitting duck, just an act of profound leadership by the country that invented nuclear weapons and has used them to slaughter civilians. Nothing would happen on the ground until the TPNW is ratified by the Senate. That makes signing the Treaty as easy as it is powerful.

Between signing and ratification, there would be plenty of time for negotiations and discussion. Signing the TPNW would commit the US to nothing more than it has been publicly promising to do for over 50 years – to actively pursue the elimination of all nuclear weapons – but as a short-term step it would directly set the wheels in motion for the long-term goal. It would weaken the usual excuses.

Again, signing the TPNW would require nothing of the US in terms of concrete steps towards disarmament until it has been ratified by the Senate. And yet it is the single most powerful thing a US President could do right now to signal to the world that the era of nuclear weapons is finally coming to an end.

Significance of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Just as the world has been rising up to demand an end to the burning of fossil fuels, so has the world been rising up to demand the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.[6] Since the end of the Cold War, the US public has largely stopped thinking about nuclear weapons. But not so in the rest of the world.

Nuclear weapons are in the hands of just nine countries, but the whole world would be affected if any were ever used. So, after 72 years of waiting for the nuclear-armed nations to get rid of these weapons, the rest of the world decided to take the matter into their own hands.

It took several years of international meetings and discussions and formal negotiations to reach a final agreed text of the TPNW. That was adopted on July 7, 2017 at the United Nations, with 122 countries in favor, one opposed (the Netherlands) and one abstention (Singapore).[7] As the vote was tallied, the delegates momentarily abandoned the UN rules of decorum, leaping to their feet and cheering, along with some elderly survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who had spent their lives trying to make sure that what happened to them never happened to anyone ever again. 

The significance of the TPNW cannot be overstated. It outlaws everything to do with nuclear weapons in the countries that are party to the Treaty, including development, testing, production, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, or stockpiling nuclear weapons.[8] It also outlaws transferring control of nuclear weapons, stationing, installation or deployment of nuclear weapons. And most significantly, it commits its parties not to “assist, encourage or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Treaty.”[9]

The TPNW finally closes a loophole in the international customary laws of war that allowed the World Court to rule inconclusively in 1996 on whether or not the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in all circumstances.[10] A turning point in that case was the claim by the US and UK that “the use of a low yield nuclear weapon against warships on the High Seas or troops in sparsely populated areas” could result in “comparatively few civilian casualties”[11] and would therefore be legal under the existing laws of war.

Even in such a case, the World Court ruled that such an attack might be legal only in the “extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.”[12] On the face of it, the example of using a “low yield” nuclear weapon against warships on the High Seas was already rather far-fetched, given that both the US and the UK had removed all their “low-yield” nuclear weapons by that point.[13]

In reality, the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against a city, or even against a military target that is in close proximity to a civilian population, has always been illegal, not only under international law but under the US’s own Laws of War.[14] These laws generally prohibit attacks on civilians and on civilian infrastructure. And “a wanton disregard for civilian casualties or harm to other protected persons and objects is clearly prohibited.”[15] In all conceivable real-life scenarios, therefore, the use of nuclear weapons – and therefore also the threat of their use – would clearly be illegal, even in the case of “self-defense.”[16]

Now, with the TPNW, there is no legitimate target for the use of nuclear weapons. And although the TPNW does not yet have the status of “customary international law,”[17] it nevertheless has effects on countries that do not sign it, including the United States.

According to the US Law of War Manual (section, even when the US has not signed a particular treaty, the US military is bound to abide by it, if the treaty represents “modern international public opinion” as to how military operations should be conducted.[18]On this basis, for instance, the US stopped deploying landmines and cluster munitions in its military operations after treaties banning those weapons were agreed, even though the US has still not signed those treaties.[19]

Signing vs ratifying the Treaty

Signing the Nuclear Ban Treaty would commit the US to working toward the complete elimination of its nuclear weapons. Since this is something the US is already legally committed to under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1970), as we have said, it would have no immediate effect on officially declared US nuclear weapons policy. As explained above, signing the Treaty does not mean that the US must immediately or “unilaterally” give up its nuclear weapons. Signing a treaty is just the first and initial step.

What the US would have to do upon signing the TPNW is make it clear that its already stated intention to eliminate all nuclear weapons is now the operational policy of the United States and not just a “declaratory” policy which the government issues publicly but has no real intention of implementing. Being actually committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons would mean, for starters, that the United States was not pursuing developments designed to maintain its nuclear arsenal into the indefinite future, but was actually putting nuclear weapons labs, construction facilities and contractors on notice that the nuclear weapons business is coming to an end.

Again, the US would not be legally bound to implement any of the specific terms of the TPNW until it has been ratified by consent of the Senate. It is only after the ratification and subsequent entry into force of the treaty (90 days after the ratification has been deposited with the UN) that the specific legal obligations outlined in the Treaty would begin to take effect.

The first of these, following ratification, would be the removal of all nuclear weapons from operational status. This implies, as discussed above, not only moving weapons off “hair-trigger alert” but removing warheads from missiles and putting them in storage.[20] Only the US, Russia, UK and France have nuclear weapons that are “deployed” on operation status. The other nuclear-armed states – China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – keep their nuclear weapons in storage and these are therefore not considered to be operationally available for use.[21]

Upon ratification and entry into force of the Treaty, the US would then have to come up with its own legally-binding, time-bound plan for the verifiable and irreversible elimination of its nuclear arsenal. The plan has to be approved by the existing States Parties (member nations) to the treaty. The first meeting of States Parties to the TPNW, which took place in Vienna in June 2022, came to an agreement that the time limit for a country to verifiably eliminate its nuclear arsenal would be 10 years from the start of the agreed removal plan.[22]

Unilateral vs multilateral action

As mentioned in chapter 8, the United States and Russia already have a long history of undertaking unilateral disarmament measures.[23] The fact that these weapons are illegal to use in almost all circumstances, and militarily redundant for use in almost all other circumstances,[24] means that it is perfectly plausible, though not necessarily politically possible, to simply sign the TPNW and begin to dismantle nuclear weapons regardless of what other countries do.

During the 1960s, conflict resolution experts developed a concept called “GRIT,” or graduated, reciprocal initiatives to tension-reduction.[25] The idea was that even in the most hostile environments, two adversaries could reduce tensions by taking small, unilateral steps and waiting to see if these were reciprocated. If the second party did reciprocate, the first party would then take the next step, and wait again for reciprocation.

This approach was implemented very successfully with the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives mentioned above. The US took an initiative and waited to see if Russia would reciprocate, which they did. The US then took additional steps and these were also reciprocated. Unfortunately, that process did not then continue to its logical conclusion, which would have been to eliminate the weapons altogether.

GRIT has also been used successfully in many other contexts, including in labor and family disputes as well as in major international peace processes such as between Egypt and Israel.[26] It has a proven track record and enables a country like the United States, with deep distrust of a country like Russia, to nevertheless engage in meaningful steps to reduce tension without having to rely on lengthy negotiations and a complex verification regime.

Nevertheless, it is a political reality in the United States – as well as in other nuclear-armed countries – that the idea of giving up its nuclear weapons “unilaterally” is too much for some people to contemplate, even for some of the most progressive Members of Congress. Therefore, it is perfectly permissible, within the terms of the TPNW, that arrangements are made, prior to ratification of the treaty, to involve all nuclear-armed states in a mutual process of eliminating their nuclear arsenals.

Conditional ratification

How these countries work something out among them is secondary to the fact that, sooner or later, the total elimination of nuclear weapons will require them to sign an agreement prohibiting nuclear weapons for all countries and for all time. Since the world has already agreed to such a treaty, namely the TPNW, it is hard to imagine another treaty being negotiated to fulfill the same purpose, as some campaigners have urged.

Before ratifying the Treaty and submitting its nuclear weapons elimination plan to the other parties, the US would have ample time to reach some kind of agreement with the other nuclear-armed nations to ensure that they all give up their nuclear weapons together. There are many ways they could do this. Negotiating another formal treaty between the nuclear-armed states is one possibility, but certainly not the only one.

The TPNW already exists and it is in the interests of all the parties to that treaty to get the nuclear-armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. Therefore, the most likely options are for the nuclear-armed states to either agree an additional protocol to the TPNW that spells out how they will disarm their weapons, or to agree with the existing states parties (AKA ratifying countries) to the TPNW how that process will be carried out.

In either case, there is nothing in the TPNW that would stand in the way of the US or other nuclear-armed states presenting a legally-binding, time-bound plan for the irreversible and verifiable elimination of their nuclear arsenal in conjunction with a legally-binding, time-bound plan that binds the other nuclear-armed states to the irreversible and verifiable elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

Will Russia, China and North Korea give up their nuclear weapons if the US does? There is no guarantee that they will, but they are certainly more likely to do so if the US does.[27] And even if they don’t, the US still has the most powerful military on the planet, even without nuclear weapons.

The military argument for signing the TPNW

Without a single nuclear weapon, the United States would still have the most powerful military in the world by a very wide margin. It has 11 aircraft carriers compared to China’s 3 and Russia’s one.[28] It has 630 fifth-generation fighter aircraft to China’s 200 and Russia’s eleven.[29] It has a military presence at over 750 sites in 80 countries[30] compared to 21 for Russia and, currently, one for China.

The US spends more on its military every single year than the next 10 countries combined, and this gives it the technological edge in every military department. And many of those countries are military allies of the United States. Total military spending of the US together with its allies amounts to more than three times the military spending of all potential adversaries put together, every single year.

The amount of money US taxpayers spend on military hardware every year is vastly more than is spent on healthcare, education, housing, the environment and the social safety net combined. From any religious or ethical standpoint, this is a truly grotesque display of the country’s national priorities.

Figure 10.1 Top 10 Countries by Military Spending (2022) [31]

Figure 10.2 2022 Military Spending of US and allies vs potential adversaries[32]

US conventional forces and military might are ridiculous overkill for a country surrounded on two sides by thousands of miles of open sea and on the other two sides by very large and friendly neighbors that have shown no interest in picking a military fight with the United States. Of all the countries in the entire world, the US is one of the few that has no hostile neighbors, no border disputes, no threat of invasion or attack – and therefore hardly a need for a military force of any kind, let alone a need for the most powerful military force in the world.

Nuclear weapons are an equalizer for weaker countries

No country on earth comes close to being able to seriously threaten the United States – unless it is with nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are the global equalizer. They enable a comparatively small, poor country, with its people virtually starving, to nevertheless threaten the mightiest military power in all of human history.

The elimination of nuclear weapons is therefore in the national interest of the United States, purely from a military point of view.[33]

The military rationale for continuing to maintain an arsenal of nuclear weapons is supposedly that they act as a powerful deterrent to any potential adversary thinking of attacking the US or its allies.[34] Although Ukraine is not a member of NATO, it is quite clearly an important ally of the US. And yet, equally clearly, US possession of nuclear weapons did not prevent the invasion of Ukraine by Russia.

And while Russia has threatened to use nuclear weapons against any country interfering with its invasion of Ukraine, clearly this has also not stopped or hindered the United States or other NATO countries from arming and supporting Ukraine. In fact, despite the huge danger of the war in Ukraine sparking a nuclear confrontation, the reality is that nuclear weapons have not been used in that war, precisely because there is no clear military utility in using them for either side.

Not an effective deterrent

Throughout the Cold War, the prevailing belief in the US and western Europe was that it was only nuclear “deterrence” that prevented the Soviet Union from invading Western Europe. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the release of decades of Cold War archives, it has become clear to historians that the Soviet Union was not about to invade Western Europe at any time during the Cold War, and therefore it was not the US nuclear “deterrent” that prevented them from doing so.[35]

We also know that, despite common perceptions, it was not nuclear weapons that “deterred” the Soviets during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but actually backdoor negotiations and compromises that led to the US removing short-range nuclear missiles from Turkey in exchange for the Soviets removing short-range nuclear missiles from Cuba.[36]

Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in 1973, almost certainly aware that Israel could have retaliated with nuclear weapons.[37] Saddam Hussein rained down Scud missiles on Israel in 1991, knowing for certain that Israel could retaliate with nuclear weapons. Argentina attacked and occupied British territory in the South Atlantic knowing that Britain could retaliate with nuclear weapons. Pakistan attacked India in 1999, knowing that India could retaliate with nuclear weapons.[38] The French lost Algeria despite having nuclear weapons. The Russians lost Afghanistan despite having nuclear weapons.

In literally none of the numerous wars fought by the US since 1945 has the existence of nuclear weapons had any bearing on the outcome, of course the US lost some of those wars and suffered the 9/11 attacks in spite of having an overwhelming superiority of nuclear weapons.[39]  

In their book, Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy, Sechser and Fuhrmann examined 348 international territorial disputes between 1919 and 1995 to see whether possession of nuclear weapons had any impact on the outcome of such disputes. They found no statistical correlation at all. In other words, the countries now possessing nuclear weapons are no more likely than they were before having nuclear weapons to “win” a dispute or get what they want from other countries. They are also no more likely to “win” a dispute or get what they want than are the countries which do not have nuclear weapons.[40]

Threats, whether they are nuclear or otherwise, become meaningless if they are never carried out. And nuclear threats are never carried out for the very simple reason that to do so would be an act of political suicide and no sane political leader is likely to ever make that choice. In their joint statement in January 2022, the US, Russia, China, France and the UK reiterated the declaration made initially by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”[41]

That was followed by a G20 statement from Bali in November 2022, declaring that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”[42] What do such statements mean, if not the utter pointlessness of retaining and upgrading expensive nuclear weapons that can never be used?

Incitement to proliferation

These weapons do not deter aggression and do not help win wars, but as long as nine countries insist on holding onto theirs, other countries inevitably want them. Kim Jong-un wants nuclear weapons to defend himself from the United States precisely because the US continues to insist that these weapons somehow defend the USfrom him. It’s no surprise if Iran might feel the same way.

The longer the US and other nuclear-armed nations go on insisting that they must have nuclear weapons as the “backbone” of their national security,[43] the more these countries are encouraging the rest of the world to want the same. South Korea and Saudi Arabia are already considering acquiring their own nuclear weapons. Soon there will be others.[44]

This is the moment, therefore, for the US to seize the opportunity to eliminate these weapons once and for all, before more and more countries are engulfed in this renewed, uncontrollable arms race that can have only one possible outcome. Beginning a process to eliminate these weapons now is not just a moral imperative, it is a national security imperative.

Global Pressures on the US to sign –>

[1] Including of course the Middle East, where Israel, a nuclear-armed nation, is at war with Hamas, a group backed by Iran, which many believe is aspiring to become a nuclear-armed nation. An Israeli government minister threatened to drop a nuclear bomb on Gaza just days after Israel launched its land invasion of Gaza:

[2] See, for example, Speed, R. (1997). International control of nuclear weapons. Washington Quarterly20(3), 177–184. also referenced in Acton, J. M., & Perkovich, G. (2009). Hedging and Managing Nuclear Expertise in the Transition to Zero and After [Digital]. In Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate (p. 118). Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

[3] See especially the 5-point platform of the Back from the Brink Campaign at Back From the Brink. (n.d.). Back from the Brink.

[4] US diplomats, including the President, speak on a regular basis before the UN General Assembly, UN Committees, the UN Security Council and other international bodies, and frequently reiterate the US commitment “to a world without nuclear weapons,” even when the rest of their message may appear to be going in another direction. See, for example, Jenkins, B. D. (2023, August 29). Statement of the United States to commemorate and promote the International Day Against Nuclear Tests at the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the UN General Assembly. In United States Department of State. UN General Assembly.

[5] This is a very important point that seems to be lost on many people who argue that the US “can’t” sign a treaty like the TPNW because it would commit the US to unilaterally disarm, which is plainly false.

[6] The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a network of more than 500 civil society organizations in 100 countries. It won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

[7] See United Nations. (2017). Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons – UNODA. United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

[8] Article 1(a), in Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons – UNODA

[9] Article 1(e), in Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons – UNODA

[10] International Court of Justice. (1996). Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion. In International Court of Justice. ICJ Reports. 

[11] Seep.39 in Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion. In International Court of Justice (above.)

[12] See p.41in Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion. In International Court of Justice (above.)

[13] “Low-yield” nuclear weapons today mean weapons with roughly the destructive power that destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 (15-20 kt). During the Cold War, there were much smaller nuclear weapons deployed on helicopters, jeeps. artillery and even hand-held devices in the range of 0.01-0.3 Kt. These were all removed from service after the Cold War ended in 1991 and therefore were unavailable for use when the World Court made its ruling in 1996. See Wikipedia contributors. (2023). List of nuclear weapons. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia

[14] See Office of General Counsel. (2016). Law of War Manual. (pp. 126, 188). Department of Defense.

[15] See p.192 in Office of General Counsel. (2016). Law of War Manual. Ibid.

[16] See International Court of Justice, op.cit., p.23.

[17] International treaties with near-universal adherence are considered under international customary law to apply, in the fullness of time, to remaining states even if they do not explicitly join those treaties. See Scott, G. L., & Carr, C. L. (1989). Multilateral treaties and the formation of customary international law. Denver Journal of International Law & Policy25(1), 71–94.

[18] Department of Defense, op.cit., p.71.

[19] See The White House. (2022b). FACT SHEET: Changes to U.S. Anti-Personnel Landmine Policy. In The White House The latest US policy still retains existing landmines in South Korea, but commits the US to no further deployments of landmines. Meanwhile the White House has seen fit to send landmines to Ukraine, even though its own military forces are not allowed to use them.

[20] Nuclear weapons are that are on submarines, in missile silos or ready to be loaded onto planes are counted as “deployed” nuclear weapons (of which the US has 1,744). Warheads located in “central storage” facilities that would require transporting to a deployment site are counted as “stored” nuclear weapons (of which the US has 1,964) and warheads that are still intact but awaiting dismantlement are counted as “retired” warheads (of which the US has 1,720, for a total “inventory” of 5,428 nuclear warheads) See page 342, SIPRI. (2021). Military Spending and Armaments, 2021. In SIPRI.

[21] See above.

[22] There is also the possibility of extending this period, but 10 years should be sufficient time to accomplish the task. See Kütt, M., & Миан, З. (2019b). Setting the Deadline for Nuclear Weapon Destruction under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament2(2), 410–430.

[23] See pages above.

[24] The notable exception to their military uselessness is of course the ability to destroy the opponent’s nuclear weapons, but if the opponent’s nuclear weapons are being dismantled in conjunction with your own, the military utility of maintaining nuclear weapons also disappears. See section below.

[25] See Osgood, Charles, An Alternative to War or Surrender, University of Illinois Press, 1962.

[26] See Lindskold, S. (1978). Trust development, the GRIT proposal, and the effects of conciliatory acts on conflict and cooperation. Psychological Bulletin, 85(4), 772–793. and Psychology. (n.d.). GRIT Tension Reduction Strategy.

[27] See Chapter 11.

[28] Russia’s one aircraft carrier is currently out of service and carries up to 24 aircraft compared to largest US carriers which hold up to 130 aircraft. China’s carriers can hold up to 40 aircraft. US carriers hold many other technological advantages over the Russian and Chinese counterparts. See Torode, G., Baptista, E., & Kelly, T. (2023, May 5). China’s aircraft carriers play “theatrical” role but pose little threat yet. Reuters

[29] See Brimelow, B. (2021, May 6). US commanders say 5th-gen fighters will be “critical” in a war. Here’s how F-35s and F-22s stack up to Russia’s and China’s best jets. Business Insider

[30] The Pentagon counts 439 of these as “bases” and the rest are smaller or unconfirmed military installations. See complete listing of US overseas presence with explanation at: Vine, D. (2021). Lists of U.S. Military Bases Abroad, 1776-2021 (Version 1). American University.

[31] SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2023,

[32] SIPRI Military Expenditure Database 2023,

[33] See the series of essays from “realist” perspective by Ward Wilson in Inkstick Media: Wilson, W. (2021, March 29). How to eliminate Nuclear weapons: Part I. Inkstick and ff.

[34] See chapter 8 for more discussion on the concept of deterrence. In this chapter we focus on the actual history of nuclear threats.

[35] See a summary of the available data from Cold War archives at Lunak, P. (2001). NATO Review – Reassessing the Cold War alliances. NATO Review

[36] See fully referenced summary of what we now know took place at Wallis, T. (2022). How Diplomacy Not Deterrence Saved the World in 1962. NuclearBan.US.

[37] Most scholars now assume that Israel already had nuclear weapons during the Six-Day War of 1967, but certainly by the time of the Yom Kippur War of 1973. See history of Israel’s nuclear weapons program at Aftergood, S., & Kristensen, H. M. (2007, January 8). Nuclear weapons – Israel. Federation of American Scientists.

[38] Pakistan tested its first nuclear weapon in 1998, but India, which first tested its bomb in 1974, was estimated to have several dozen nuclear weapons by that point. See McLaughlin, J. (2018, October 31). India Nuclear Milestones: 1945-2018. Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control.

[39] Since 1945, the US has fought wars in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Libya, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Panama and elsewhere. Possession of nuclear weapons did not prevent any of those wars nor influence the outcome.

[40] Sechser, T. S., & Fuhrmann, M. (2017). Nuclear weapons and coercive diplomacy. Cambridge University Press.

[41] The White House. (2022a, January 3). Joint Statement of the leaders of the five Nuclear-Weapon States on Preventing nuclear war and Avoiding Arms Races [Press release].

[42] The White House. (2022b, November 16). G20 Bali leaders’ declaration [Press release].

[43] U.S. Department of Defense. (n.d.). America’s nuclear triad.

[44] Brewer, E., & Dalton, T. (2023, February 13). South Korea’s nuclear flirtations highlight the growing risks of allied proliferation. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace