Accession Number : AD1021744

Title :   Should We Let the Bomb Spread

Descriptive Note : Technical Report


Personal Author(s) : Sokolski,Henry D

Full Text :

Report Date : 01 Nov 2016

Pagination or Media Count : 241

Abstract : In 1966, Leonard Beaton, a journalist and strategic scholar, published a short book that asked: Must the bomb spread? Mr. Beatons query reflected the profound alarm with which proliferation was viewed shortly after the Cuban Missile Crisis. Today that alarm is all but absent; now, not only is proliferation increasingly viewed as a given (more of a fact than a problem), but some security experts actually see advantages in nuclear weapons spreading or, at least, little harm. Cultivation of this latter view took timenearly a half centuryand considerable scholarship. In 1981, Kenneth Waltz popularized French and American finite deterrence thinking of the late-1950s by asking whether or not nuclear weapons in more hands might be better. His answer was yes. As nuclear weapons spread, he argued, adversaries would view war as being self-defeating, and peace would become more certain. Although this view gained a certain following, some pushed back, emphasizing the real limits of nuclear safety and security. Drawing on official documents, Scott Sagan in the early-1990s detailed many nuclear accidents and close calls that the U.S. military had with its nuclear arsenal. He and others also focused on the risks of illicit and unauthorized use, and the chance that one side or another might misread the warning signals of a possible nuclear attack and respond when they should not. After the events of September 11, 2001, the question of whether terrorists might go nucleara worry studied in the early-1970sregained urgency. This concern, though, immediately raised yet another issue: Was nuclear deterrence, which the worlds superpowers had relied upon so much during the Cold War, relevant any longer for dealing with nuclear-armed rogue states and terrorists?

Descriptors :   international relations , national politics , treaties , national security , intergovernmental organizations , international conflicts , nuclear bombs , nuclear weapons , foreign relations , Nuclear Proliferation , Weapons of Mass Destruction

Subject Categories : Nuclear Warfare
      Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
      Government and Political Science

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE