Nonproliferation Review • 14.2 • July 2007

Volume 14 • Number 2

SPECIAL SECTION — Nuclear Futures: Prognosis for the Permanent Five

Introduction: Where are the P-5 Headed?
James Clay Moltz

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If progress is to be made toward eventual nuclear disarmament (or even very low numbers), greater coordination among the Permanent Five (P-5) states will be needed. To date, considerable progress has been made, but much of it is reversible. Equally problematic is that reductions are now increasingly unverified and unilateral. These trends hamper efforts to bring in other parties and build the stronger nonproliferation norms necessary for further cuts in global arsenals (and the prevention of new ones). Studying P-5 nuclear plans 10 years out is important for beginning to chart possibilities (and problems) for increased coordination of international nuclear policies. Moreover, the P-5 states need to replace Cold War “zero-sum” thinking about nuclear weapons with new “positive-sum” approaches to collective security.

Silent Retreat: The Future of U.S. Nuclear Weapons
Dennis M. Gormley

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The stage may be set for what could be a historic turning point in America’s reliance on nuclear weapons to meet its fundamental national security interests. Proponents of a refurbished nuclear stockpile and infrastructure are convinced that nuclear weapons will remain central to U.S. security interests, yet they admit that there is no national consensus on the need for and role of nuclear weapons. Nuclear opponents are gravely concerned that to the extent nuclear refurbishment creates a global perception that nuclear weapons remain essential instruments, it will eviscerate nuclear nonproliferation measures precisely at a time when nuclear ambitions are growing. Moreover, opponents see deterrence through advanced conventional weapons as decisively more credible than any nuclear alternative. With hopes of elevating discourse to the national level, this article examines the key current arguments pro and con within the specialist community and forecasts changes in the U.S. nuclear arsenal over the next decade. It concludes with a brief prognosis on prospects for complete nuclear disarmament.

The Origins of and Prospects for Russian Nuclear Doctrine
Nikolai Sokov

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This article explores Russia’s increasing reliance on nuclear weapons from three perspectives. First, it seeks to demonstrate that the phenomenon is not exclusively limited to Russia and represents a broader trend, which is ultimately rooted in the nature of the contemporary international system or, more precisely, the uncertainties of the transitional period between the Cold War system and a new emerging one. Second, it analyzes the role assigned to nuclear weapons in Russia’s doctrinal documents, in particular the emergence of a new mission — limited-use of nuclear weapons to deter or, if deterrence fails, to de-escalate large-scale conventional conflicts. Discussions of the new doctrine, which have begun recently, suggest that this new mission will likely remain unchanged. Finally, this article looks at the apparent discrepancy between Russia’s nuclear modernization programs and the roles assigned to nuclear weapons in the military doctrine, as well as the causes of that discrepancy.

The United Kingdom and the Nuclear Future: The Strength of Continuity and the Chance for Change
John Simpson

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In December 2006, the British government published a White Paper on the future of its nuclear deterrent which was endorsed by its House of Commons in March 2007. The White Paper focused on constructing new Trident ballistic missile submarines to be deployed in the early 2020s, and also contained a number of statements about the United Kingdom’s future nuclear doctrine. The Trident’s role is now for strategic deterrence alone; the concept of sub-strategic deterrence (and nuclear war fighting) has been abandoned; uncertainty over the specific circumstances of use continues to be an integral part of the United Kingdom’s deterrence posture; and any actual use would adhere to the guidelines set forth in the 1996 International Court of Justice advisory opinion. The United Kingdom is also committed to participating fully in any future multilateral disarmament negotiations. These decisions offer a clear vision of the strategic nuclear future of the United Kingdom.

The Last to Disarm?: The Future of France’s Nuclear Weapons
Bruno Tertrais

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France still sees its nuclear arsenal as essential both as insurance against future major risks and as support for an independent foreign policy. There is a wide consensus in the country to maintain a nuclear deterrent, both among political parties and the general public. A modernization program is under way that will ensure the continued efficacy of the French nuclear force well into the 2030s, and France has adopted a fairly restrictive interpretation of its disarmament commitments under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This suggests that the likeliest future direction of France’s nuclear policy is conservatism. However, other scenarios remain possible, especially in the domain of transatlantic and/or European cooperation.

Effective, Reliable, and Credible: China’s Nuclear Modernization
Jing-dong Yuan

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Chinese nuclear doctrine is guided by the no-first-use (NFU) principle and strives to maintain an effective and reliable deterrent. For Beijing, the concept of deterrence has more of a qualitative rather than quantitative connotation. Labels such as minimum or limited deterrence do not capture the essence of Chinese doctrine, which is not defined by any numerical threshold, but by the level of sufficiency that guarantees a survivable, credible, and effective counter-deterrence and second-strike capabilities. Accordingly, China continues to regard nuclear weapons as largely political and psychological instruments, rather than for actual war fighting. The foundation of Chinese nuclear doctrine is increasingly being challenged, however, by growing U.S. nuclear primacy, the U.S. commanding lead in conventional weapons, especially precision-guided munitions, and the deployment of ballistic missile defenses. These developments threaten China’s limited nuclear deterrence capabilities and raise questions about the viability of the NFU principle. How Beijing responds to such challenges will determine the future of its nuclear force modernization, the role of its nuclear weapons, and the prospects for nuclear disarmament.


Japan Tests the Nuclear Taboo
Mike M. Mochizuki

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This article examines whether recent changes in the security environment, including North Korea’s nuclear test of October 2006, are driving Japan to consider the acquisition of its own nuclear deterrent. It argues that a combination of three factors have thus far sustained Japan’s nuclear restraint: (1) national identity as a non-nuclear weapon state, (2) commitment to global nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and (3) realist security calculations. Partial changes in these factors have provoked in Japan a new round of debate about the nuclear question that can be grouped around three general options: (1) move toward a nuclear weapons option, (2) robust conventional defense and a stronger alliance with the United States, and (3) a more assertive non-nuclear diplomacy. The article concludes that the most likely Japanese course for the time being is to strengthen the alliance with the United States and improve conventional defense capabilities, including missile defense. Although the taboo about public discussions of the nuclear weapons option may be weakening, Japan will continue to forgo that option.

Energy for Security: A Natural Gas Pipeline Solution to the North Korean Security Threat
Chris Ajemian

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Though North Korea agreed to partial denuclearization in February 2007, achieving that goal is at best a long way off. A natural gas pipeline linking all of Northeast Asia and promising energy and economic help could help convince the isolated nation to step away from its nuclear programs entirely; it could also provide the nonproliferation and energy security benefits that have eluded the region for so long. These economic benefits could motivate the other nations involved in the six-party talks to deal with North Korea more than if only nuclear reactors were offered.


The Future of Biological Disarmament: New Hope After the Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention
Nicholas A. Sims

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The Sixth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) gave the future of biological disarmament new hope. It brought the BWC back closer to the core of multilateral efforts to combat the weaponization of disease, agreed to an intersessional work program for 2007- 2010, created an implementation support unit, and revived the interrupted process of BWC evolution through extended understandings agreed at review conferences. However, its aims were deliberately modest. Having set their sights realistically low, delegations did not have to lower them much further. What was most important was to prevent U.S.-Iranian acrimony from paralyzing the conference. With deadlock once again narrowly averted, the conference had to clear away the debris left from past dissensions in order to open the way to constructive evolution for the treaty. In particular the conference avoided contentious subjects such as permanent organization and verification measures for the BWC; its institutional deficit and compliance problems remain. Successes and limitations of the conference are analyzed, as is its equivocal outcome on confidence-building measures. Developing on the endogenous principle, the BWC will continue to need constant attention. At the center of a complex edifice, the BWC must be kept sound, strong, and solid.

U.S. Strategic War Planning After 9/11
Hans M. Kristensen

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The U.S. Department of Defense is implementing the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review’s requirement to create a “New Triad” of offensive and defensive capabilities. Advocates assert the new posture is necessary to change U.S. deterrence posture from a “one-size-fits-all” plan focused on the Soviet Union to a global posture designed to better deter or defeat all sizes and types of adversaries. This article describes how new policy guidance is reshaping U.S. strategic planning, converting the top-heavy Cold War Single Integrated Operational Plan into a “family” of smaller, flexible plans designed to threaten potential adversaries anywhere on earth and explores how the responses of these adversaries may help to undermine the nonproliferation regime.


At the Borderline of Armageddon: How American Presidents Managed the Atom Bomb by James Goodby
Reviewed by Gregg Herken

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Since the advent of the nuclear age, the leader of the United States has had to deal with the ultimate responsibility — the power to control or unleash nuclear weapons. Historian James Goodby, inAt the Borderline of Armageddon, looks at how these leaders have handled this. For almost 60 years, the distinction between preemption and preventive war has been clear, yet now the line has been blurred. Nonproliferation norms and the accompanying treaty regime have been weakened (in part) by actions taken by the United States, despite its stated commitment to nonproliferation. There is much a U.S. president could do to bolster the regime, yet in the current political environment, it is unlikely to happen, argues Goodby.

Shopping for Bombs: Nuclear Proliferation, Global Insecurity and the Rise and Fall of the A.Q. Khan Network by Gordon Corera
Reviewed by Stephanie Lieggi

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The exploits of the A.Q. Khan nuclear network have received significant attention in the last three years. Gordon Corera’s recent book,Shopping for Bombs, is an important addition to the existing literature. In this book, the author explores how Khan became a nuclear supplier and why his network was able to flourish for so many years. In his analysis, Corera examines relevant domestic and international political circumstances that affected Khan’s rise and ultimate fall. The author also gives a compelling account of the international investigation that shut down this network in 2004 and warns that Khan’s network will not be the last to challenge international nonproliferation regimes. Despite a few gaps in the book’s narrative and analysis,Shopping for Bombs is an important source of insight into the activities of Khan and his network.


Statements of fact and opinion expressed in The Nonproliferation Review are the responsibility of the authors alone and do not imply the endorsement of the editors, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, or the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The Nonproliferation Review ISSN 1073-6700
Copyright © 2007 by Monterey Institute of International Studies