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The Changing Face of Nuclear Deterrence

Mutually assured destruction (MAD) is also no longer a maintainable strategy and this increases the risk of the use of nuclear weapons

 By Anil Madan

Ever since the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seared the conscience of humanity, the nations of the world have for the most part maintained a fearful respect for nuclear weapons. Even as both the US and the Soviet Union expanded their arsenals, there was an underlying sense that such expansion should be reluctantly undertaken.

This approach made deterrence and non-proliferation possible. It eventually led to the test ban treaty and arms reduction talks. Employing even the threat of using a nuclear weapon—except in a deterrent sense, later refined to the concept of mutual deterrence—has been considered off limits at least for the major powers. It was assumed that Britain, France and China were committed to this same respect. India and Israel (which never admitted that it had nukes) made indirect pledges of refraining from a first strike.

Surprising as it may be, despite the twisted logic of five superpowers having arrogated to themselves exclusive membership in a nuclear club, the world at large, with few exceptions, yielded to the imperative of non-proliferation. Of course, it was logical to expect that India could not abide China’s nuclear arsenal, and that Pakistan could not abide India’s. And it was not logical to expect that Israel would abjure the oxymoronic solace that comes from possessing the ultimate in destructive weapons when faced with an existential threat — destroy first, lest ye be destroyed. That deterrence was an insurance policy for a nation’s survival. * Read More… Become a Subscriber

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 22 April 2022

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