European shift in popular thinking on Nuclear Weapons

In the modern world today international security is a priority in the government agenda. It is evident that some countries take nuclear weapons as necessary instruments in safeguarding their international security. However, there are different opinions to this since nuclear weapons are regarded as destructive and a threat to national and international peace and stability. Cohesiveness and co-existence among nations has been attributed to reduction of nuclear weapons. This study looks at the history of nuclear weapons since time immemorial and how it has evolved since then. Background of Nuclear Weapons the dangers of nuclear weapons the value of nuclear weapons the conflict between pro-nuclear weapons and anti nuclear-weapons will be considered. An analysis of how the peace movements in Europe shifted the widely held conception about nuclear weapons will also be considered. This hypothesis will be supported by some the ideas of the realist theory and Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) movement and its influence on the treaty of Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

Background of Nuclear Weapons
Use of nuclear weapons is not a recent affair. Back in 1945, United States is on record for having exploded the first nuclear bomb. It was seconded by the Soviet Union when it exploded a bomb in 1949. Other countries followed suit. Britain first attempt took place in 1952 France in 1960 China in 1964 and India in 1974. Notably, the use of nuclear weapons rose with time. In 1952, United States exploded thermonuclear bomb at Eniwetok atoll in the pacific. Other countries followed suit where the Soviet Union experimented its first thermonuclear bomb in 1955 China on 1967 Britain in 1957 and France in 1968. The pace of nuclear testing grew rapidly as the mentioned countries intensified their nuclear weapons testing. 2,044 tests have been carried out worldwide. Every country has maintained a pattern since its first nuclear weapon test. For instance, U.S. carries out a nuclear test every 17 days since its first test the Soviet Union tests are approximated at 23 days from its first test France every 63 days Britain every 349 days and China every 222 days. India has only performed a one test so far.

These explosions take place in different environments. The tests can take place above ground, underground, and underwater. Explosion attempts have occurred top of tall buildings, onboard barges, hanging balloons suspended on the earths surface. Other tests take place underwater to depths of 2,000 feet, underground to depths of 8,000 feet, and in horizontal subways.  Dropping of test bombs by aircraft and firing them up to 200 miles into the atmosphere are another major ways that nuclear weapons testing has been carried out. It is believed that nuclear weapons tests have spread all over the world. Some of the sites are as follows Bikini Atoll (U.S.) Christmas Island (U.S. and U.K.) and Eniwetok Atoll (U.S.) just to mention a few. Nuclear weapons tests, however, lead to environmental problems as a result of radioactive emissions in the atmosphere. This emanates from the underground nuclear tests. Natives succumb to serious illness and health complications and this extends to the generations that follow.  

The value of Nuclear Weapons
Insecurity has become a major omen across the world and every government is treating this issue both locally and internationally very seriously. One of the worst fears is the danger posed by terrorism attacks. Indeed, several countries especially United States and Britain have fallen victims of this and it has necessitated establishment of high security measures. In this regard, nuclear weapons despite their moral encroachment have been used as a remedy and as a solution to safeguard nations against malicious intruders.  It is obvious that majority of countries have a feeling of fear and insecurity.

Anarchy has been presented as one of the reasons why countries are increasingly concerned about the welfare of their territory. As Lebow notes, Anarchy subjects the state to strengthen its approach to security and to add more to power as compared to other values (Lebow 1994).  Therefore nuclear weapons become the avenues for peace and stability. A number of international relations Scholars and historians believe that nuclear weapons contribute in preservation of peace and stability an opinion that Waltzs Theory concurred. Waltz softened his position and affirmed that nuclear weapons have been the second force in promotion of peace in the postwar world (Waltz 1981). He went further to argue that long lasting peace was dependent on bipolarity and nuclear weapons (Waltz 1990).

The Conflict between Pro-nuclear weapons and Anti-nuclear Weapons
To some it is considered that a world without nuclear weapons is impossible. As mentioned above, nuclear weapons are regarded as reservoirs for peace and stability. However, proliferation of nuclear weapons is a recipe for nuclear wars. In a bid to reduce the risks of getting into nuclear wars establishment of Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) is on the rise. As Mitsuru notes, the sole objective of the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone is to safeguard against use of nuclear weapons but more importantly the eradication of the possibility of attracting nuclear war (1999). When one is in possession of a gun it cannot be trusted that she is going to use it wisely. The chances are that the person may open fire in given circumstances. This example helps us understand why possession of nuclear weapons is risky and a reason to worry. As noted earlier, peace and security rests on the possession and use of nuclear weapons on the contrary, nuclear disarmament is considered as a key player in promotion of peace and security both in the region and globally. Proliferation of nuclear weapons is an issue that should be accorded serious consideration. It is an issue that cannot be looked down upon whatsoever since it is a matter of general security and the general good. In this regard, the establishment of more and more Nuclear Weapons Free Zone is a valuable way for attaining security on a regional basis, which at the long run can be sewed into a global community with free nuclear weapons regions (Okashiwa 2002).

The chief role of nuclear weapons is keeping U.S., their allies, or their vital interests safe from the attacks of potential adversaries (Younger 2000). Notably, a number of countries are modernizing and intensifying technology behind nuclear weapons. Russia upholds strategic and well-planned nuclear forces. China is enthusiastically refreshing its nuclear arsenal. India and Pakistan have considerably manifested ability of midlevel technology status to grow or obtain nuclear weapons. There is a rapid expansion of nuclear weapons in countries such as North Korea, Iraq, and Iran an indication that nuclear era is far from over. As Younger notes nuclear weapons continue to play a key role in supporting international security during the latter half of the twentieth century. Notwithstanding the fact that they are the most destructive tools ever made-up, they have a stabilizing effect on superpower relations by making any conflict unacceptably costly (2000). As noted above, America still maintains that nuclear weapons safeguard them from potential enemies and their vital interests. This role is not expected to change in the future but for as long as the military forces act as the custodian of nuclear weapons. Peace movements across Europe have held talks in regard to nuclear weapons. Due to this, the popular conception about nuclear weapons has undergone a metamorphosis.

The war against Nuclear Weapons
The cold war is believed to have began in 1949, a period which the USSR exploded its first atomic bomb. As mentioned earlier long, cold war was characterized by the disagreements between the United States and the Soviet Union. This intense conflict evolved after the Second World War. Some time around 1947, there emerged a division of states of states between the West and the East where United States and the Soviet Union represented respectively. The West accused the Soviet Union of jeopardizing democracy and encouraging communism in Eastern Europe as well as Germany. This attempt to undermine democracy crippled the economic system and freedom of occupation within Eastern Europe. The Soviet Union justified their actions hence leading to a conflict between them and the U.S. The Soviet Union accused United States by saying that the U.S. were enemies to communism while the U.S. accused the Soviet Union of its plan to undermine liberal democracy across Western Europe and the United States.

The Americans signed an alliance agreement with Asia and eventually in 1950, a peace treaty with Japan. In addition, in 1952, other states, for example, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines joined the alliance. The Soviet Union signed an alliance agreement with China in 1950.As a result, the war in Korea stopped in 1953. In the 1960s, there were changes that took place in the world and this lessened the Cold War. Both camps had begun to notice the futility of their conflict and the importance of establishing a better union.

The termination of the Cold War witnessed dramatic reductions in the Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNW) on both sides. This reality was not as a result of the singed treaty but as a result of declarations by the presidents. President Bush in September 27, 1991, led the U.S. in eliminating short-range nuclear weapons and withdrawal of tactical nuclear weapons from surface ships, submarines and land-based naval craft. President Gorbachev followed suit and in October 5, 1991 declared that the Soviet Union would obliterate all nuclear artillery missiles and the nuclear warheads. He went ahead in declaring that nuclear warheads for anti-craft missiles would also be done away with. The entire TNW would be removed from surface ships and heavy duty submarines. All weapons of this kind would be destroyed. On January 29, 1992 President Yeltsin reaffirmed the commitments in these duo declarations (Taina, 2002). In June 1992, the French also joined in by cancelling the manufacturing of a tactical nuclear missile referred to as the Hades (Goldblat, 2002). Britain declared that both its ships and aircraft would not offer transportation to its tactical nuclear weapons.

It had been indicated above that it is almost an illusion to fathom a country without nuclear weapons. It has been demonstrated as a basic and fundamental requirement for a state in promoting its international security. Little was it thought that die-hards of nuclear weapons would soften their stand in this regard. The scope of nuclear weapons for a country is beyond its regions and localities as it covers the interests of the national internationally.

In a bid to exercise arms control European community shared in the sentiments of their U.S. counterparts on the future of arms control. This led the formation of a Liberal Internationalist Community characterized by the same political values and policy concepts. The liberal arms control community in U.S. was among the first to promote the idea of arms control. This community focused mainly on specific proposals in the nuclear arms control area. The main focus during that time was to resist the Reagan administrations efforts to do away with nuclear arms control. As Such, the community concentrated on promoting a comprehensive nuclear test ban and on preserving the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty threatened by Reagans Strategic Defensive Initiative (SDI) (Caldwell 1991). Common security took center stage compared to the conception of national security.

They settled for a stable cooperative arrangements and peace orders in regard to the security dilemma in international relations. Common security stressed that attainment of security in the nuclear age could not be limited to unilateral measures.

Security partnership begins with the acknowledgement that war can no longer be won and that destruction cannot be restricted to one side. There cannot be any reliable security against an opponent, but only with an opponent.  There is only common security and everybody is partner in it not despite potential enmity, but because of this enmity (Bahr 1983).

It is said that she who desires peace must prepare for war. This dictum has been quoted to justify the establishments and expansion of large military forces and development of nuclear weapons. As per the Correlates of War projects preparation for war only leads to arms races, subjecting the participants to risks rather than the peace they aim to achieve. The best way forward is to uphold unilateral restraint in the acquisition of new weapons systems while seeking every opportunity to negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements to limit development and deployment (Wallace 1981).  

The rise and fall of Soviet power influenced the trends of the cold war. The rise of Soviet power intensified the cold war and the decline of Soviet power ended the cold war. As mentioned earlier long, Soviet was the second to explode a nuclear bomb and its authority had a lot of influence as far as nuclear weapons are concerned. Nuclear Weapons Free Zone contributed a lot to the anti-nuclear weapons campaign. Such establishment was mobilized in 1950s and become a regional approach in discouraging the world from using nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Weapons Treaty elevated the Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) as a complementary element of the nonproliferation regime established by that treaty.  The Nuclear War Free Zone (NWFZ) have made it possible for states in a region to attend to the limitations of the NPT regime, by fully doing away with nuclear weapons and establishing greater transparency and stronger verification measures. NWFZ apparently is a strong disarmament measure since it involves the eradication of nuclear weapons region by region. It unswervingly deters any possible deployment by Nuclear Weapons State of their existing nuclear weapons. It prevents any nuclear tests activities from being conducted in a region.

In conclusion, the paper has discussed the shift in thinking on the topic of nuclear weapons in a detailed manner. However, we cannot deny that nuclear weapons play a fundamental role in ensuring international security. I agree that their arbitrary use is what creates trouble. They should be viewed as tools for self-defense but only if necessary. Countries planning to go to war should adhere to the international policies as to when they can declare war against another country. Nuclear Weapons Free Zone role in curbing the proliferation the proliferation and disarmament of nuclear weapons is laudable.

This task of (NWFZ), however, is not easy at all. Approaching the issue from a global point of view makes it a hard task. It will be easy if they approach it from a regional point of view and by induction control it globally. In this sense, basing on the logic of NWFZs to reinforce the growth and expansion of nuclear weapons it can be taken as a measure towards global disarmament. The fight against nuclear weapons should continue no matter what. But, as I mentioned earlier we cannot discredit them but what should be controlled or prevented is their arbitrary use.    


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