• The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) was concluded with Russia in 2010 limiting both countries to 800 launchers (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles & heavy long-range bombers) & 1 550 warheads each
  • But the US has announced ambitious plans to spend $1 trillion for modernisation of its nuclear arsenal over the next 3 decades o In a Nuclear Posture Review, the US has maintained the right of “first-use” of nuclear weapons though limited to

“extreme circumstances”

  • The North Korea’s nuclear programme & the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons by Pakistan are the most worrying aspects of the current global nuclear threat
  • Since 2006, North Korea has conducted 4 nuclear tests, the latest in Jan 2016, claiming it as a hydrogen bomb. Sanctions have not been effective & there are clear limits to which China will push the North Korean regime o But the North Korean threat is indirectly serving a US purpose; the US maintains nearly 30,000 soldiers in South

Korea & deploys modern systems including ballistic missile defences which certainly curbs nuclear ambitions in Japan, South Korea & Taiwan

Total nuclear abolition

  • The horrors of Hiroshima & Nagasaki have helped generate a norm against the use of nuclear weapons though nuclear abolition remains a distant goal
  • The idea of the military utility of nuclear weapons has been a key driver for the pursuit of nuclear weapons & set the stage for the obscene accumulation of > 70,000 weapons by the US & the Soviet Union during the 1970s & 1980s
  • During the Cold War, the idea that the best route to nuclear disarmament was through non-proliferation & the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) o The truth is that the NPT has had no impact on nuclear arms reductions o Bcz though it recognises only 5 nuclear weapon states (the US, Russia, the UK, France & China) but is unable to deal with the reality of India, Pakistan, Israel & North Korea’s weapon programmes

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