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The strategy of non-proliferation: maintaining the credibility of an incredible pledge to disarm

Harrington, Anne 2011. The strategy of non-proliferation: maintaining the credibility of an incredible pledge to disarm. Millennium - Journal of International Studies 40 (1) , pp. 3-19. 10.1177/0305829811413312

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Abstract

This article criticises the leadership of the new nuclear disarmament movement in the United States for not going far enough. Whether the US administration actually wants to achieve disarmament or not, implementing the current US nuclear policy agenda will not produce a world free of nuclear weapons. Rather, it will reinvigorate an ailing non-proliferation regime by adapting it to confront new nuclear threats. This conclusion is based on a two-part argument. Firstly, nonproliferation is a strategy much like the Cold War-era strategy of extended deterrence. Just as extended deterrence required the US to maintain the credibility of an incredible threat to attack, non-proliferation requires the US to maintain the credibility of an incredible pledge to disarm. Thus, re-establishing disarmament as a credible long-term goal of US nuclear policy will persuade other states in the short term to forgo nuclear weapons and cooperate in restricting access to fissile materials. Secondly, contrary to the common-sense interpretation of the relationship between non-proliferation and disarmament, it does not follow that a robust non-proliferation regime will lead to the elimination of nuclear weapons. In fact, experience suggests just the opposite: Non-proliferation does not lead to disarmament. In conclusion, whatever the Obama administration’s aim, the current US nuclear policy will reduce the threat nuclear weapons pose to the US, while obviating the need for the US to disarm itself.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Publisher: SAGE Publications
ISSN: 0305-8298
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 22 September 2016
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 09:25
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/94800

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