Dynamics of Nuclear Disarmament Multilateral Negotiations
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In 1957, Henry Kissinger aptly wrote that ‘ever since the end of the Second World War brought us not the peace we sought so earnestly, but an uneasy armistice, we have responded by what can best be described as a flight into technology: by devising ever more fearful weapons. The more powerful the weapons, however, the greater become the reluctance to use them.'  He referred to the nuclear weapons as a powerful device that deters superpowers from major conflicts. His vision proved to be true, albeit difficult process of negotiations on nuclear disarmament throughout the Cold War period and beyond. Henceforth, common reluctance to use these deadly arsenals does not necessarily stop powerful states from acquiring them up to a certain deterrent level. Instead, nuclear weapons are even proliferated and technically perfected, and this, in my view, is the most striking dilemma and serves as the paradox of nuclear weapons.
The year 2010 will be a very critical year for multilateral negotiation and talks on nuclear arms control and nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),  since the future of NPT and the progress and implementation of each of its article will be assessed through its five-yearly Review mechanism. In particular, what it makes more crucial and fascinating is the promise made by US President Barack Obama on potential reduction of nuclear weapons.
In his policy statement delivered in Prague, April 5th, 2009, President Barack Obama has made it very clear that he envisioned ‘a world that is free from nuclear weapons.' Five months later, pouring all influence, persuasion and personal charms, President Obama chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council, which unanimously supported his vision.
President Obama's initiative and political will his administration is willing to invest to build a critical mass and new thrust needed to move the troubled NPT in the next Review Conference in 2010. Yet, one must be well aware that reviving the NPT requires more than just rhetoric.
One of the main articles of NPT, Article VI, clearly stipulates that the nuclear weapons states parties to the Treaty are under obligation to negotiate in good faith a nuclear weapons disarmament treaty under strict and effective international control at the earliest possible date. Unfortunately, the sole multilateral negotiating forum entrusted to negotiate nuclear disarmament treaty, the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, has failed to start the negotiations ever since it managed to conclude painstakingly the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
At this point, one important question to ask is whether or not the international community should see President Obama's recent drive to revive the negotiation of the reduction of US - Russia nuclear arsenals as an integral part of this long-term vision—a world that is free of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, what strategy are now being devised to ensure the success of negotiation on both bilateral and more importantly multilateral fronts, provided that attempts to any reduction—particularly as dramatic and steep as it was contained in recent Obama's initiative—will encounter serious hurdles and challenges.
It therefore surely remains to be seen whether this bilateral negotiation is driven by President Obama's long-term vision to totally get rid of these weapons of mass-destruction or by other ulterior motives. As mandated by Article VI of the NPT, negotiations on nuclear disarmament should be conducted multilaterally. Besides, if nuclear weapons were fought the whole world would suffer. It is therefore unfair to sideline the non-nuclear-weapons possessing states in the negotiation.
The study therefore discusses the dynamics of nuclear disarmament proliferation treaty, by analyzing the policy of the U.S.—as one of the major nuclear weapon states (NWS)—on nuclear proliferation, and its interaction towards other nuclear states. It tries to answer one key question: ‘Why are the nuclear-weapons-possessing states, as parties to the NPT, so reluctant to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear weapons disarmament treaty under strict and effective international control?'
As the study carries the task to provide a clear understanding on the hesitation of nuclear weapon states in negotiating a comprehensive disarmament, it is therefore considered important for us to look at the theoretical as well as policy contexts. Hence, discussion presented in the study is threefold, namely: (1) the conceptual framework and theoretical foundations; (2) policy development surrounding nuclear disarmament; and; (3) the recent dynamics of NPT in conjunction with the attitude of the U.S. as one of the major nuclear weapons states.
II. Conceptual Framework and Theoretical Foundations:
Imagining Security, Survival and National Interests
This study argues that the nuclear weapons states are so reluctant to negotiate the treaty for they firmly believed that their security and indeed existence (survival) critically hinges upon these weapons of mass-destruction, retaining and perfecting them thereby are mandatory. That above argument also underpins the departing point of our journey to understand the extent to which sense of insecurity and need for survival reinforce nuclear weapons states' reluctance to conduct nuclear disarmament negotiations.
The concepts of security and survival are essentially parts of the national interests of any state, including the nuclear weapon states. The two key concepts along with its national interest maximization are also core concepts of realism in the study of international relations.
Under the logic and circumstances of anarchy, states are assumed to always rely on its own capability for survival. It is therefore a self-help system of international relations within which states and nations are living.
Furthermore, a state, especially the smaller or less-powerful one, does have limited options or strategies for its survival. In a rather simplistic illustration, states can either compete or cooperate in advancing its respective national interests. Henceforth, to the realists, state of anarchy makes it more difficult for any state to cooperate with one another. In pursuing this, states often find themselves at odd to build alliance(s) with other states, yet, without any solid assurances concerning full commitments of each member of these cooperative and/or non-cooperative situations.
There are a number of theories to explain that, widely stemming from the sense of insecurity to creating absolute gains (neo-liberal tradition) to building a complex of security identity (as proposed by a more recent constructivist tradition of international relations).
Robert Jervis (1978) posed a valid question of why states would cooperate, provided that anarchy and the security dilemma make cooperation seemingly impossible. In other words, presumably, there must be some mechanisms which would allow states to bind themselves (and other members of the alliance) not to defect, or a mechanism by which to detect defection at the earliest possible stage, which enable an appropriate early response.
In so doing, states often find themselves under a dilemma—security dilemma. Despite of the many definitions and understanding on what constitute security dilemma, the essence of the dilemma is that “security seeking states more often than not get too much and too little, by assuming military posture that resembles that of an aggressor, which in turn causes states to assume the worst, and these attempts to increase security are consequently self-defeating.” The more a state increases its security, the more it is likely for other state(s) to become insecure.
In order to understand the situation under which security policies and strategies are formulated and thus executed, Jervis examines the conflicting situations by providing two basic models for situations of tension and conflict, based on the intentions of the adversary: spiral and deterrence. In the spiral model, intentions of both actors are objectively benign, whereas in the deterrence model, intentions of the adversary are malign.
Furthermore, in his deterrence model, Jervis (1976) ‘introduces a concept of malign power-seeking adversary, whereby actors in this situation are pursuing incompatible goals thus, making the strategy of deterrence the best possible option. In contrast, in the spiral model—often referred to as the true or ‘purest' security dilemma situation, both actors are security-seekers, thus their interests are compatible.' Yet, as analyzed by Andrej Nosko (2005), ‘the problem remains the inability of actors to distinguish which game they are playing, and what are the intentions of their adversaries.'
Although, according to Jervis it may not be possible to overcome the dilemma completely, it still may be possible to ‘break out of the security dilemma.' He therefore suggests two major solutions to overcome the situation: Firstly, ‘to check the cognitive processes, when the adversary's intention is being perceived, so that the adversary is understood correctly.' His second suggestion is ‘to employ specific military posture consisting of procurement of weapons that are useful for deterrence without simultaneously being as effective for aggression.' Those practical suggestions form a powerful tool of analysis in what is referred to as ‘offense-defense balance variables', which are significant extension to the security dilemma further expanded by Jervis (and also by Glaser and Kaufmann, among others), as shown in the matrix below.
Source: , Strategy, Security Dilemma, and the Offense-Defense Balance, lecture material, accessed from http://ocw.tufts.edu/data/58/726832.pdf.
In regard with the logic of nuclear weapons capability, it surely remain unclear whether or not the nuclear warheads installed in various Inter-Continental or Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs/SLBMs) constitute offensive or defensive, since the defense against ICBMs is ICBMs (deterrence) and SLBMs, on the other hand, are less accurate hence defensive. Therefore, security dilemma can be removed accordingly through the significant reduction of the number of nuclear warheads.
As actors are striving to attain security while they are driven to acquire more and more power in order to escape the impact of the power of others, thus the intentions and motives of the actors are important primarily for any realists.
In the U.S. case, while intentions for major reduction in its nuclear capability seemed to be imminent, yet, one looming question is whether other ‘adversarial nuclear weapons states such as North Korea would immediately follow the suit to reduce or eliminate its nuclear capabilities.' Critics and pessimists were quick to answer that such a possibility for others to bandwagon and support the U.S. initiatives are too far-fetched, for a number of reasons such as the national aspiration to obtain nuclear capabilities, sense of insecurity, and the need to “hedge” its national security from possible nuclear outbreak in the future as part and parcel of their national threat perception.
At this point, it is important to add other major concepts in the study of security from the lenses of (neo-)realism, as presented by Waltz (in his systemic self-help and survival theories) or Buzan in his concepts of threats and vulnerability. The links of these various concepts are quite clear: within a convoluted and uncertain international environment, it is postulated that ‘the mere uncertainty of international life creates a threatening environment for a state.'
While threats are normally coming from outside the country, vulnerabilities are, on the other, internal in nature, which demonstrate a ‘deficiency in the capability of a state to manage its security affairs.' As argued further by Buzan, vulnerability can be reduced primarily by increasing self-reliance, or by countervailing forces to deal with specific threats. Hypothetically speaking, obtaining or maintaining the level of nuclear warheads to hedge its security interests vis-a-vis other states is a ‘double-edged sword' that can be used to minimize both threats and reduce vulnerability at the same time.
The theoretical approach of this study suggests that there is a strong interlink between domestic/national considerations (i.e. political alignments in domestic politics and other domestic factors) on what constitute national vulnerability (which may derived from different sources of insecurity, widely stemming from economic, political, as well as the level of military capability relative to others, and vice versa) and threatening international system and environment (including not only the emerging and continued threats from its adversaries, but also the uncertainty of international regimes). This, for instance, has been quite evident in the case of Post-9/11 U.S. security policy in which strong bipartisanship on the Hill on what constitute major threat to security and how it should be overcome was built. Arguably, political dynamics will always affect a decision made by the Executive, and even more so in the national security domain. And a policy maker would eventually take all these into his or her consideration. Presumably, President Obama's decision on the steep reduction—even elimination of nuclear warheads—was the result of these various considerations e.g. shared concerns amongst the elites over the possible illegal and illicit spread of nuclear warheads.
III. Relative Peace amidst Constant Threats of Nuclear Annihilation:
Deterrence, Negotiations, and Idiosyncrasy
Indeed, in reality, questions and discourses surrounding nuclear weapons and its delivery systems remain as elusive and fascinating as ever, both in its theoretical and practical terms. One of the difficult puzzles that the epistemic community of international relations and strategic studies has been trying to understand and explain is the fact that despite its imminent threats of destruction within the context of intense Cold War, no single nuclear weapon has been used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. While this is surely a surprising, yet, welcomed situation, especially amongst non-nuclear weapons states, yet, it does not mean that the world is totally free from the fear and threats of global destruction caused by nuclear war.
Arguably, this relative peaceful situation can be understood at least through three different prisms: first, the role of deterrence; second, diplomatic measures and negotiations; and, third, idiosyncrasy.
Deterrence. In essence, a number of scholars and practitioners are convinced that nuclear capability has been playing an important role in deterring (external) threats. Furthermore, nuclear deterrence provides strategic blanket in three specific terms: first, protection against attacks with nuclear weapons; second, protection against attacks with conventional forces; and, third, indefinable additional diplomatic clout.
Theoretically, some analysts of international relations and strategic studies believe that the relative peace is attainable mostly through effective deterrence, coercion, and all its derivative concepts such as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) and Balance of Terror. In his robust argument, Robert Jervis (1989) reiterated ‘the significance of the theory of the nuclear revolution: in a world of mutual second-strike nuclear capability (where an adversary's first strike cannot prevent a state's retaliation), military victory in a total war is impossible.'
The handling of strategic nuclear weapons policy is also not without any idealistic consideration. In the hands of policy handlers, apart from the need to deter, another major consideration surrounding strategic nuclear policy is the moral and ethical dilemma that entail. For the US as a major nuclear weapons state, for instance, the dilemma is aptly captured by Robert E. Osgood (1988), who clearly stated the following:
In the period since World War II, the United States has encountered moral and strategic issues concerning the management of force in peacetime that are unique in its historical experience and novel in the history of international politics. At the core of these issues lies a dilemma—namely, the moral (as well as ethical) and strategic predicament of being unable to pursue one course of action without incurring the disadvantage of another. It arises from the dependence of military security on nuclear weapons. This nuclear dilemma lurks in the background of every major military strategic choice and suffuses all major strategic debates. The history of US strategic thought can be largely be comprehended as the story of how Americans have tried to cope with this dilemma by rejecting, abolishing, or mitigating it.
Furthermore, he continued by defining precisely the dilemma the US (as arguably other nuclear weapons states) is facing in regard with its nuclear arsenal depository, as follows:
The nuclear dilemma is simply an expression of the momentous fact that the security and peace of the United States and its major allies depend heavily on the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons, and on the fact that this deterrent, if used, would very probably lead to self-defeating destruction and, possibly, an ecological catastrophe for much of civilization.
In his critical analysis, Wilson (2008) however seriously questioned the role of deterrence in preventing the outbreak of nuclear war. His arguments rest on the assumption that the policy makers have so far misunderstood the true concept of deterrence. He maintained that that the logics of nuclear deterrence, as widely perceived by the policy-makers, were unwarranted simply because they either built on a fallacy of assumptions or were based on disproven facts. Countering Kissinger's arguments that nuclear attacks would likely to happen on major populous cities, as happened on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Wilson asserted that there has been no single solid evidence on the intention of the former USSR to attack U.S. major cities even at the height of nuclear tension during the Cold War. As he argued further,
An examination of the practical record of nuclear deterrence shows doubtful successes and proven failures. If the conventional wisdom is wrong—if nuclear weapons might not deter nuclear attacks, do not deter conventional attacks, and do not reliably provide diplomatic leverage—then the case for disarmament, nonproliferation and banning nuclear weapons is immeasurably strengthened.
In the post 9/11 tragedy, the nature and logic of asymmetric wars has added more complexity to the already difficult policy options. Fear from the possibility of illicit transfer and/or nuclear acquisitions by the so-called ‘terrorist groups', it is very clear that the US and its allies have been undertaking all possible diplomatic initiatives and even military actions to deny these groups' access to any nuclear materials.
Negotiations and Diplomatic Measure. It is also worth to mention the role of diplomacy and diplomatic efforts in ensuring countries do not resort to their nuclear arsenal to settle whatever disputes they may have with one another. In this regard, the role of negotiators in ensuring the commitments and compliance of all states—both nuclear and non-nuclear ones—to international code of conducts and norms of non-proliferation is also significant.
To date, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains at the very helm of global endeavor to keep the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and at the same time, restraining states from diverting its peaceful nuclear program towards provocative and militaristic uses.
Corollary to this is the most authoritative nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime—the NPT- which was concluded in 1968 and has entered into force since 5 March 1974. Consisting of a Preamble and 11 articles, more often than not that the treaty is widely interpreted as “a three pillar system”, namely: non-proliferation; disarmament ; and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.  In operation, a safeguards system to verify compliance with the NPT is established under the auspices of the IAEA one of which is conducted through site inspections. As outlined in the Treaty, NPT seeks to promote cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear technology, including the use of nuclear energy and equal access to this technology for all States parties, and provide safeguards that prevent the diversion of fissile material for the development of nuclear weapons.
Idiosyncrasy. In contrast with the above analysis on the role of deterrence and diplomatic measures, a more recent study by Nina Tannenwald (2007) revealed a striking fact concerning the idiosyncratic factor of U.S. leaders regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Drawing on newly released archival sources, Tannenwald was able to dispute the widely accepted theory of deterrence as primary inhibitor to an open and global-scale nuclear war. Instead, she was in favor of what she calls a nuclear taboo, a widespread inhibition on using nuclear arsenals—which has arguably arisen in global politics.
By analyzing four critical instances of wars where U.S. leaders considered using nuclear weapons (namely Japan 1945, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War 1991), Tannenwald produced a rich and convincing explanation on how the nuclear taboo has successfully helped prevent the U.S. and other world leaders from resorting to these ultimate weapons of mass-destruction.  In other words, Tannenwald believed that there has been some moral ingredient within the policy makers in regard with the use of nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, from the leadership perspective and beliefs, Jacques E.C. Hymans (2006) convincingly demonstrates that leaders do play significant role in achieving nuclear capabilities. Based on his findings on contending interests of leaders in the attainment of nuclear capabilities, he suggests three possible responses: first, a stricter international non-proliferation regime—controlling supply-demand side; second, nuclear abolition, in which the nuclear weapons states make much ‘more serious efforts towards disarmament' and ‘resist the temptation to threaten nuclear attacks against non-nuclear weapons states', as they promised to do in Article VI and again at the NPT Review Conference in 2000; and, third, preventive military action/intervention against regimes whose leaders harbor nuclear weapons ambitions.
Apparently, those three responses are in combination taking place in today's world politics and international security. Despite their differences in mode of operation, all three prescriptions above do tell us common assumption that: nuclear weapons are highly attractive to many states; that nuclear weapons tend to proliferate. As argued by Hymans, ‘the ultimate solution to the proliferation puzzle lies in some sort of fundamental change to the international system, be it sovereignty-crashing inspections, universal disarmament, or a wholesale revision on the laws of war.'This entails the need to change the way international law operates, which so far is seen as rather ineffective to ensure compliance. As radical it may sound, yet, it is surely rather difficult to be implemented on the ground.
IV. Recent Major Development:
A Fresher Outlook of Multilateral Negotiation?
As one of the key nuclear weapons states, The U.S. has sheer diplomatic and military clout over the future of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons at the global scale. In this regard, it is important to note that any debate concerning the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is strategically important and critical.
This has been truer especially since the new Obama Administration has expressed its commitments to pursue a deep and steep cut in its nuclear force, and to launch a major review of U.S. nuclear policy, which will hopefully be submitted to the Congress in February 2010. With its 2,200 operational strategic warheads (while the overall U.S. force to date is merely a fraction of one-fourth of its size a decade ago), yet, it is more capable to destroy an adversary's nuclear weapons before they can be used.
In the realm of nuclear disarmament negotiations, the weight the U.S. diplomacy can throw to the success or failure of the negotiations is also visible. This was clearly shown, for instance, in President Obama's success to round commitments from the P-5 countries during last UNSC Summit on NPT on 24 September 2009, which unanimously adopted UNSC Resolution 1887 (2009). Resolution 1887 itself spells out, inter-alia, the “calls upon States Parties to the NPT to comply fully with all their obligations and fulfil their commitments under the Treaty” as well as refrain themselves from nuclear test explosion and sign the CTBT, and also exercise stricter measures to sensitive materials”—as means to avoid nuclear warheads from falling into the terrorist group.
The expected band-wagonning effect of the U.S. commitments, especially on the part of non-nuclear weapons states that are parties to NPT, will be prominent, thus, making the study of the Obama Administration's nuclear policy becomes more critical in our attempts to understand the dynamics of nuclear disarmament multilateral negotiations.
But, what is the real impact of President Obama's initiatives on the future nuclear disarmament multilateral negotiations?
To begin with, the U.S.—like any other country, has its own strategic sense of security—and even vulnerability, as reflected in the contours of its proliferation policies of the past decade or so.
Sense of Insecurity. The threat of terrorism is one that is getting more prominence since 9/11. But deep beneath its psyche, the U.S. Government(s) continue to assert the US nuclear strategy does not hinge any longer on being able to deter a single, comparably powerful, nuclear rival. It goes even further beyond that. For instance, the Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy embraced ‘pre-emptive' attacks, against certain potential adversaries, rather than a strategy of deterrence, under the assumption that terrorist groups and even certain ‘rogue' states cannot be deterred.'
Furthermore, the same Administration stated in its 2006 National Security Strategy that despite its recognition to address the issues of proliferation through diplomacy and in concert with its allies and partners, the ‘the place of pre-emption in our national security strategy remains the same.'
Departing from his predecessors' position, in his illuminating speech in Prague, President Obama introduced a (new) calculus of US nuclear strategy. He outlined the intention of the U.S. to, among others, ‘aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)', ‘seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons as means to cut off the building blocks needed for a bomb', and ‘strengthen the NPT as basis for cooperation.'
He further shared some initiatives for international cooperation. These include the efforts to strengthen the treaty and to need put resources and authority to strengthen international inspections, as well as the need to build a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation including an international fuel bank. He also called for “real and immediate consequences” for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the treaty without cause—referring to the North Korea and Iran specifically.
President Obama's promise to fulfill his ‘world-that-is-free-from-nuclear-weapons' vision indeed sparked optimism. Analyst like Tom Sauer (2009) even predicts that “the nuclear weapon states may opt sooner for nuclear elimination than generally expected, due to five factors: first, the danger of nuclear proliferation; second, the risk of nuclear terrorism; third, the nuclear taboo—as outlined earlier; fourth, the technological advancement of missile defense against nuclear arsenals, which reduced the ‘shock and awe' capability of nuclear weapons; fifth, the increased importance of international laws.
While the optimism seems to be warranted, yet, it might be too little too soon for us to conclude that the age of nuclear proliferation is practically over. President Obama's promise will face a number of hurdles, from within and outside the U.S.
Nuclear Rivalries. It will be immediately tested this year when the US and Russia resume haggling on an arms reduction pact and again meet at the crucial UN nuclear arms conference in May. Whether or not the American and Russian negotiators could agree on a successor pact to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) to cut nuclear weapons would serve as the litmus test on the feasibility of President Obama's calls. START-1 was an initiative proposed by the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982, and completed under the administrations of U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. As stipulated by the treaty, each country could deploy no more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles — the single largest bilateral reductions in history.”
The concerns—and indeed stakes are now getting much heightened particularly since both Washington and Moscow missed their deadline in December to agree to ‘a new arms control treaty, which would have cut the world's two largest nuclear arsenals by up to a third, though they vowed to generally abide by the old one while continuing negotiations.' The good news is that the overall outline of the new treaty is apparent. At a meeting in Moscow in July 2009, Presidents Obama and Dmitry Medvedev narrowed the range for a cap on warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675, down from about 2,200, which each side now has. They are also expected to lower the ceiling on delivery vehicles - intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based missiles and strategic bombers - to below 800, from 1,600. 
It is widely believed that ‘a successor to START-1 would help restore relations between Moscow and Washington, which recently sank to a post-Cold War low due to many political and diplomatic upheavals as shown in the rift between the two countries over problems in Chechnya, Russian attacks on Georgia in August 2008, and so forth. In that sense, the new treaty should become ‘another milestone in disarmament and non-proliferation, taking the interaction between the US and Russia to a higher level and reaffirming their common goal of promoting mutual as well as global security.'
While the US and Russia are now still grappling over a few key differences (e.g. verification procedures) in their respective position concerning the common policy of nuclear weapons/warheads reduction, there are no guarantees that talks would yield a provisional accord. More fundamentally, the problems between these two largest and most important nuclear weapon states are more deeply rooted.
Some within the U.S. strategic elites, particularly from the “republican camp,” argued that U.S. policymakers need to critically examine Russia's views on nuclear weapons and doctrine. While successive U.S. Administrations have announced that Russia is no longer the enemy, Russia still considers the United States its “principal adversary,” despite President Barack Obama's attempts to “reset” bilateral relations. U.S. national leadership and arms control negotiators need to understand Russia's nuclear doctrine and negotiating style as they are, not as the U.S. wants them to be.
In addition, Russia is not the only nuclear rival that the U.S. is facing. In the longer term, China, as dubbed by many analysts and observers, is likely to pose serious “challenges” to the status of the U.S. as the world's dominant hyper-power. The rise of China as prominent nuclear power would eventually alter the strategic power relations, particularly in East Asia and surrounding the Asia Pacific. And clearly, China's growing nuclear capability is an important factor and plays a significant and pivotal role in securing its regional and global interests, thus, making it difficult for us to discard this factor from our calculation.
Institutional Weakness. Furthermore, the success of NPT Review and Obama's vision could also be hampered by some institutional problems. The IAEA, for instance, is still short of expertise and resources, albeit its remarkable job in the field.
As noted by Ephraim Asculai (2009), those problems were clearly reflected in the introductory statement of IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed El Baradei to the 2008 IAEA annual General Conference, who clearly indicated that “Effective nuclear verification requires four essential elements: adequate legal authority, state-of-the-art technology, timely access to all relevant information, and sufficient human and financial resources...we still have shortcomings in all four areas.” These institutional problems within the IAEA, including the immediate need to improve resource allocation (e.g. financial, human resources, and technical improvement) and its sustainability is also addressed in the Report prepared by an independent Commission (the so-called Eminent Person Group) at the request of the Director General of the IAEA in May 2008.
Furthermore, Jeffrey Fields et al (2009) provided a stimulating multidimensional analysis and evaluation on the effectiveness and institutional performance of NPT Regime.
They argued primarily that in comparison with other institution, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), NPT regime has no formal centralization as there is no secretariat to run the whole business of non-proliferation. Of the three important institutions like the IAEA, the UNSC and the UN General Assembly, none of them has “the exclusive purview of maintaining the regime as a whole.” Although the IAEA is the closest institution to the scope of regulation under the NPT regime, yet, it has a rather “circumscribed role within the regime”, and not a mandate to manage the NPT regime.
In other words, The NPT regime still suffers from a number of fundamental shortcomings: weak enforcement, lack of effective measures of supervision and sanctions against countries violating the NPT, and so forth. For instance, Jayantha Dhanapala (2001)—then Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations Department for Disarmament Affairs admitted that despite its call as the “cornerstone of global peace and security”, NPT regime works at the mercy of its members—especially the powerful nuclear weapons states. He further stated:
The nuclear-weapon states -- while accusing each other of a lack of transparency -- do not inform the world of the precise size of their nuclear arsenals and their holdings of special fissionable materials, so we must rely upon secondary estimates based on available published data. These estimates suggest that there were a little over 39,000 nuclear weapons when the NPT entered into force in 1970, compared to the 31,000 that reportedly existed in the year 2000. While these reductions -- which average 3 only about 266 weapons per year -- are disappointing, they do reveal that global nuclear arsenals declined to more than half of their peak in the mid-1980s.
Heavy Handed Policy. On a more optimistic ground, the success of talks between Washington and Moscow will hopefully not only give a signal for the upcoming NPT Review to succeed, but equally importantly, provide a renewed platform of bargaining between nuclear and non-nuclear countries. This has been relevant with the will of many NPT signatories would like the review conference to call for universality of the treaty, which consequently would ‘force' non-parties e.g. Israel, Pakistan, India and probably North Korea to sign it and destroy any warheads they might have build. But again, there is no stipulation in the current international law that might force a country to sign or submit itself into a treaty.
Idealistically speaking, that should be the call and expected band-wagonning effect resulting from the changing nature of relationship between two major nuclear weapons states. Yet, this, under the nature of international law, cannot be easily implemented as such since there is no enforcing mechanism for any state to sign a treaty.
More often than not, the attitude of smaller nuclear weapons states is somehow independent from the nature of bilateral relations of major nuclear weapons powers. Take the case of India and Pakistan, for instance. Despite repeated declarations from Pakistani officials on their willingness to formally forgo nuclear weapons, yet, they are only prepared to do so only simultaneously with India. In addition, they insist to have the nuclear facilities in each of the two countries internationally inspected, either under the NPT or within the framework of a South Asia nuclear weapon-free zone.
On the part of India, although they have concluded a draft 123 agreement with the U.S. concerning the establishment of a framework for civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries, which largely covers fuel assurances, technology transfers and safeguards arrangements, yet, it fuelled much political debates and renewed opposition from within Indian parliament, which eventually led to “pessimism” concerning the continuation of this agreement.
After so many disputes surrounding the interpretations (i.e. its legal compatibility with the Henry Hyde Act that amends the Energy Atomic Act) and discontent from within the domestic political constituents in both India and the U.S., and even with wide dissatisfaction of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the 123 agreement, however, was signed on 10 October 2008. The agreement is now officially called “Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of India and the Government of the United States of America concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy"
Apart from dyadic security concern of India towards its neighbors, vice-versa and the interest of the Bush Administration to enhance strategic stability in South Asia by “ensuring” India's compliance through the legally-binding agreement, the implication of the 123 agreement on NPT has by far been more fundamental. It precisely challenges the very existence and effectiveness of NPT since India was and still is only nuclear country that is not party to NPT and not a signatory to CTBT, and yet it is allowed to seal a nuclear commerce with the rest of the world. This has been made possible by the decision agreed by 45 NSG members to grant an unprecedented waiver or exemption for India to conduct a nuclear commerce. This waiver ended an isolation enforced upon India after its 1974 nuclear test, and further sealed by the IAEA's approval on the safeguards agreement with India on 1 August 2008.
In other words, these two countries' compliance toward the NPT or any forms of multilateral negotiations has little—if nothing—to do with attempts for nuclear disarmaments made by other nuclear weapons state, although by implication, a major nuclear state such as the U.S. can “offer” an incentive to other players as shown in the case of India-U.S. nuclear talks.
In practice, the calculus of nuclear states' security—as suggested by our theoretical frameworks—largely depends on the dyadic calculations vis-a-vis their perceived immediate threats (e.g. Israel vis-a-vis Iran, and vice versa), as clearly shown also in nuclear talks between the U.S. and Russia.
The dyadic nature of nuclear calculus is important to explain why nuclear non-proliferation and multilateral negotiations are so difficult to undertake. Yet, it is equally difficult to deny that ‘in the competition with other foreign policy interest, non-proliferation considerations have too often been put at a disadvantage.' That means the political and larger strategic interests can sometimes undermine its need and interest for non-proliferation to take place.
In order to subdue the Taliban, the U.S. Government, for instance, has been giving military aid to Pakistan, despite the fact that Pakistan is engaged in a nuclear weapon program. Such an action is a direct and apparent circumvention of its own stance of not being supportive to country that develops nuclear weapons. It is also evident that the U.S. has been maintaining its attitude to disregard nuclear development of Israel, which is largely resented by countries in the region.
Lack of Credentials. This brings us to a more fundamental question about the U.S. policy toward the so-called “rogue nations” in a global context—a term which was first coined in 1990s by the Clinton Administration. The policy entails that the U.S. must flex its muscle against countries like Iran, North Korea, and Iraq (under Saddam Hussein), whose leadership and attitude towards the U.S. and the West are considered detrimental against U.S. global interests and international security.
The policy against the so-called “rogue nations” arguably sparked more controversies, and shown lesser—even damaging results as shown in the unfinished works in Iraq, while North Korea and Iran continue to presumably present serious threats to the U.S. security and interests. The inefficacy and even failures of U.S. policy vis-a-vis these countries seem to derail the U.S. image and credentials at the international stage—a tarnished image that Obama Administration is now working hard to restore.
Up until now, the world is yet to see a tangible result from U.S. policy towards Iran and North Korea, especially on the nuclear issue. The situation on the ground is surely more complex than what people might think since it is not only about nuclear development, but also about regime survival in those two countries. An even-handed policy, one that addresses the threat perception of Tehran and Pyongyang would be the key. Yet, this should not diminish the message from the international community that these two countries and any other countries should not resort themselves to the use of nuclear weapons as the solution to their row with the U.S. and vice versa.
What should be prevented by the international community, and the U.S. in particular, is the terrorist groups to meddle through in this difficult situation. Yet, this cannot be undertaken effectively unless the U.S. and the West is able to show credentials, even-handed, and constructive policy, the one that Washington and its allies are still formulating.
VI. Toward an Effective Multilateral Negotiation:
Making Sense of the Article VI
The earlier illustration suggests that the end of Cold War and its strategic environment does not diminish the major powers' appetite for nuclear weapons. On the contrary, in the midst of uncertainty, nuclear status is an answer that might effectively deter external threats. Presumably, this is the primary reason why no direct military actions were taken so far against North Korea or Iran. The cost and risks of action against any proven or potential nuclear power seem to outweigh the benefits of inaction.
The next question is then: what is the future of nuclear disarmament multilateral negotiations?
Power politics, as analyzed through (neo-)realist lenses would suggest that anarchic post-Cold War situation primarily remains the major consideration for nuclear weapon states to retain their level of nuclear capabilities and even perfect its nuclear arsenal. Although we are now witnessing serious attempts made by major nuclear weapon state(s) to presumably maneuver from world II to world III, and hopefully subsequently to the world IV in Jervis' Four World Matrix (see page 6), yet, success of these efforts is not guaranteed.
At the end of the day, for any unilateral/bilateral efforts on nuclear disarmament to take effect, they must be augmented by effective multilateral negotiations. The real-politick must be in tandem with continued legal process to strengthen the NPT regime—a process within which non-nuclear weapon states can fully participate. This seems to be a canonical, but often ignored, principle of the post Cold Ward nuclear disarmament process.
Here, states' commitment to comply with NPT Articles (especially article VI) becomes very crucial indeed, especially from the nuclear weapons states, without which the fear of ‘domino effect' would eventually turn into a reality. Etel Solingen (2007), for instance, provides a tacit analysis on how the ‘domino effect' might take place in the ‘nuclear conundrum.' The domino effect would take place if one particular country decides to go nuclear, and this would spark others, especially its immediate rival country to follow the suit. As Solingen rightly points out, ‘the tally of nuclear weapons state has thus risen from the five recognized by the NPT in 1968 (the P-5) to nine in 2006.'  And as indicated by President George W. Bush, there are still many more nations have nuclear aspirations.
Here lies the core problem of the multilateral negotiation of nuclear disarmament. There was—and still is—huge lacuna and gap of interpretations between the non-nuclear weapons states and the nuclear weapons ones on the textual and contextual obligations contained in the Articles of NPT, in particular the Article VI. The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Non-Governmental Organizations often accused the U.S. in particular of ignoring the ‘commitment to reduce the military role of nuclear weapons' and ‘has adopted an irrational policy of elevating the role of nuclear weapons in its overall military strategy.' 
Responding to this criticism, which according to Christopher A. Ford (2007) ‘should bear scrutiny', Ford argues that the U.S. ‘has made enormous progress, so much so that had someone predicted two decades ago that things would stand where they do today, that persons might perhaps been thought mad.' If we look at a statistical comparison of the strength of US nuclear weapons in 1989 - 2008, indeed we can see that the U.S. has made quite a significant reduction in its strategic nuclear forces and arsenals (the warheads and delivery systems).
In the past two decades or so, the U.S. has been able to reduce the number of its ICBMs inventory from 1000 in 1989 to 488 in 2008. Washington also managed to decrease the number of SLBMs from 608 to 288 within the same period. More significantly, the number of nuclear warheads was maintained at the level of 3575 in 2008 from 8300 in 1989.
The following table illustrates the efforts made by the U.S. as a combination of various factors or exigencies (primarily unilateral reduction initiatives and also bilateral talks with its nuclear rivals USSR/Russia):
Table 1: Comparison of US Strategic Nuclear Forces Year 1989 and 2008
No Deployed 1989
No Deployed 2008
No Deployed 1989
No Deployed 2008
Minuteman III (MK 12)
Minuteman III (MK-12 A)
Minuteman III (MK 12)
Source: Adapted from SIPRI Yearbook 1989, 2008 (Solna, Sweden: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 1989, 2008) pp. 12-13 (1989); pp. 367-8 (2008).
In his analysis, Ford also argued that it was due to US efforts of openness and negotiation that the world had come to understand the level of nuclear capability and war planning of the former USSR throughout the Cold War. By way of arguing that, he insisted that it was due to various attempts made by the U.S. Administrations on disarmament initiatives, including its active engagement with the former Soviet Union during 1980s, that the latter was forced to “disclose” its nuclear policy and thus capability. Without such an attempt, it was considered impossible for the world to know, let alone understand, the magnitude and scale of the problem the world was facing at that time, given the high secrecy Kremlin attached to its nuclear capabilities and inventories.
In addition, the U.S. has been very progressive in conducting unilateral and negotiated nuclear disarmaments from the early days of its nuclear possession and even more active since the 1990s. There, as Ford continues to argue, has been an ample of evidence in which the U.S. has been reducing its reliance upon nuclear weapons and shifting its credible deterrent level to ‘the lowest number possible nuclear weapons.' 
Furthermore, as significant progress in the U.S.-Russia relations has been achieved recently, it can be argued that for the time being, the bilateral relationship is so much different from that of the Cold War, where possibility for the outbreak of nuclear clashes was still very much imminent. On a much more optimistic ground, the future relations seem to continue to be an open and predictable one since the possibility of war between the U.S. and Russia seems to be relatively remote.
As a result, in this era, there seems to be a shift of mindset from the ‘security from others' to the ‘security with others' as a response to a myriad of new security threats, including terrorism and ‘uncertainty posed by the rogue states.'
In line with Jervis theoretical framework, now there seems less incentives for major nuclear power to acquire more offensive nuclear arsenals in the forms of nuclear warheads and its delivery systems of SLBMs, ICBMs, Strategic Bombers capable to deliver a first-strike nuclear attacks, and which are costly and risky to maintain. There is more inclination—and arguably incentive, toward defensive posture, and having more options for conventional arms to ensure security and national interest of major powers.
That has been also indicated by Secretary Clinton in her remarks at the US Institute of Peace, Washington D.C. on 21 October 2009, where she reiterated the following:
Let me be clear: the United States is interested in a new START agreement because it will bolster our national security. We and Russia deploy far more nuclear weapons than we need or could ever potentially use without destroying our ways of life. We can reduce our stockpiles of nuclear weapons without posing any risk to our homeland, our deployed troops or our allies. Clinging to nuclear weapons in excess of our security needs does not make the United States safer. And the nuclear status quo is neither desirable nor sustainable. It gives other countries the motivation or the excuse to pursue their own nuclear options.
On the recognition to work more closely with Russia, she maintained:
The right way to reduce our excess nuclear forces is in parallel with Russia. Verifiable mutual reductions through a new START treaty will help us build trust and avoid surprises. We are working hard to ensure that the new agreement will continue to allow for inspections and other mechanisms that allow us to build confidence. We are under no illusions that the START agreement will persuade Iran and North Korea to end their illicit nuclear activities. But it will demonstrate that the United States is living up to its Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligation to work toward nuclear disarmament. In doing so, it will help convince the rest of the international community to strengthen nonproliferation controls and tighten the screws on states that flout that their nonproliferation commitments. 
The above analysis illustrates to some extent the primacy of bilateral negotiations of nuclear disarmaments amongst major nuclear players in promoting non-proliferation and disarmament. This is probably in line with the general view amongst U.S. policy makers dated back to 1960s that considered non-proliferation as an interim of disarmament. Thus, major powers' efforts for disarm were in many instances conducted at the expenses—or even by sidelining—the multilateral negotiations. This, in the view of many non-nuclear weapons states, is the source of ‘ambiguity' and ‘excuse' of the major nuclear weapons, resulting in the wider rift between the nuclear-weapons states and the non-nuclear weapons ones.
Henceforth, the next critical issue to be dealt with is the credibility of nuclear weapons states, including the U.S. on international arms control measures. This must be “restored” in order to gain support from the international community for the U.S. Non-Proliferation Initiatives.  As one analyst asserts, “...ratification of the CTBT would demonstrate that the U.S. is committed to its Article VI obligations under the NPT, and recognizes that the cessation of explosive nuclear testing is an essential step down this road.”
VII. Concluding Notes:
Restoring Credibility, Strengthening the NPT
This study has shown that there are several factors affecting the attitude of major nuclear powers toward nuclear disarmament multilateral negotiations, which are widely stemmed from power politics of survival, to perception and idiosyncrasy, to the institutional weakness and wider gap of perception exists across nuclear weapons states and between the nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons ones.
Yet, there is now a sign of positive development in the relationship between the U.S. and Russia, the world's two major nuclear powers. It is hoped that their improved relations, including their attempts to renew bilateral agreement on nuclear arsenals would eventually help foster the multilateral negotiation on nuclear disarmament.
Nonetheless, realistically speaking, there remain several hurdles along the way, one of which involves the overall political calculus between the U.S. and countries like Iran and North Korea. In addition, a new mechanism and strategy should be devised to address the rivalries of smaller and middle nuclear weapons which now exist very much in a dyadic pattern (e.g. Pakistan and India, Iran and Israel, Japan and North Korea et cetera). Without any mechanism that provides political, security, and economic incentives and assurances as well as realistic, effective, and credible strategy, the success of multilateral negotiation on nuclear disarmament would remain as elusive as ever.
In reality, countries—both the powerful and less-powerful ones—are still faced with the logic of power politics and grave security concerns (which are largely affected by threat perception, sense of insecurity, own national capability relative to that of others, fear of nuclear proliferation into the hands of terrorist groups et cetera) are likely to continue to dictate the dynamics of nuclear talks, both bilaterally and multilaterally, today and in the future.
In the final analysis, and as practical policy suggestions of this study, new initiative by the U.S. on non-proliferation and disarmament is indeed an important development and deserved a warm welcome and credible international support. Nonetheless, despite the various achievements and breakthroughs in nuclear talks, it is important to maintain that the success or failure of the non-proliferation and eventually disarmament is still much at the behest of nuclear weapons states (either the parties or non-parties to the NPT), and the bilateral talks and arrangements amongst them.
Yet, bilateral talks and initiatives amongst major nuclear powers, while serve well as the strategic building block to multilateral negotiations, cannot in itself be a substitute to the multilateral negotiation under NPT. For an effective multilateral negotiation to take place, it must involve other non-nuclear players. These non-nuclear players can help stimulate conducive environment and bridge the gaps of threat perception amongst major nuclear powers, i.e. through intra- and inter-regional security talks and dialogues. The order is indeed very tall, but surely not insurmountable.
 See Henry Kissinger, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1957) p. 3.
 See Ming Jing, Non-proliferation: Onus is on Major Nuclear States, in China Daily, 14 January 2009.
 The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT or NNPT) is “a treaty to limit the spread (proliferation) of nuclear weapons. It was opened for signature on July 1, 1968. The NPT is regarded as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. It was designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to further the goal of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Under the Treaty, each nuclear-weapon-State party undertakes not to transfer nuclear weapons to any recipient or assist or encourage any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. Similarly, each non-nuclear-weapon-State party undertakes not to receive the transfer of nuclear weapons or manufacture or otherwise acquire them. There are currently 189 countries party to the treaty, five of which have nuclear weapons: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China (also the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council). Furthermore, four recognized sovereign states are not parties to the treaty: India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea. India, Pakistan and North Korea have openly tested and declared that they possess nuclear weapons. Israel has had a policy of opacity regarding its own nuclear weapons program. North Korea acceded to the treaty, violated it, and withdrew from it in 2003. The treaty was proposed by Ireland and Finland and they were the first to sign.” Quoted and adapted from various sources including primarily from United Nations http://www.un.org/NPT2010/, and the Wikipedia On-Line at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Non-Proliferation_Treaty
 His position on the issue of nuclear weapons has taken its roots during his presidential campaigns, when he repeatedly underlined the strategic importance of the US to “review” its current position vis-a-vis NPT. In October 2007, for instance, he revealed that he ‘would strengthen the Nuclear NPT so that nations that don't comply will automatically face strong international sanctions.' See Barack Obama, “A New Beginning, 2 October 2007, Chicago, Illinois, at www.barackobama.com/2007/10/02/remarks_of_senator _barack-obam_27.php accessed on 14 January 2010 at 22.10.
In my view, his policy and position might as well be affected by the circumstances, particularly difficult economic situation over which the US is now struggling to regain its economic loss. In so doing, the new administration would need all possible resources and energy, and calling for global commitments to non-proliferation would therefore help remove some potential concerns of the admistration.
 See United Nations, text of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), www.un.or/events/npt2005/npttreaty.html.
 Robert Jervis, “Cooperation under the Security Dilemma.” World Politics, vol.30, no.2, (Jan., 1978): 169.
 See Robert Jervis, Perception and Misperception in International Politics (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1976), p. 62., as quoted from Andrej Nosko, Tragedy in Security Dilemma: From Herz and Butterfield to Jervis and Glaser (A Literature Review), 2005, p. 3. < www.nosko.sk/CEU-IRES-5156-NOSKO_review.pdf> accessed on 15 January 2010.
 Ibid, p.5
 Ibid. See also, for instance, detailed analysis provided by Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, Strategy, Security Dilemma, and the Offense-Defense Balance, lecture material, accessed from http://ocw.tufts.edu/data/58/726832.pdf.
 See Anthony D. Lott, Creating Insecurity: Realism, Constructivism, and US Security Policy (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate Publishing Inc, 2004) p. 18.
 See Ellen O Tauscher, Achieving Nuclear Balance (Viewpoints), Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 14, No. 3, November 2007, pp. 517-523.
 See Ward Wilson, The Myth of Nuclear Deterrence¸ Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 15, No. 3, November 2008, pp. 421-439
 For detail accounts on the concept of MAD, see Henry D. Sokolski (ed), Getting MAD: Nuclear Mutual Assured Destruction, Its Origins and Practice (Carlisle, PA: The Strategic Studies Institute, 2004).
 See Robert Jervis, The Meaning of the Nuclear Revolution: Statecraft and the Prospect of Armageddon (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989), p. 5, as quoted in Bruce M. Sugden, Assessing the Strategic Horizon: Nonproliferation, Security, and the Future of U.S. Nuclear Posture, in Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 15, No. 3, November, 2008.
 See Robert E. Osgood, the Nuclear Dilemma in American Strategic Thought (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1988) p. 1.
 See Ward Wilson, p. 421
 Ibid p. 422
 See, for instance, James D. Torr (ed), U.S. Policy Toward Rogue Nations (Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2004).
 See William Potter, Nuclear Terrorism and the Global Politics of Civilian HEU Eliminaton, Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 15, No. 2, July 2008, pp. 135-158.
 See NPT Text at http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2005/npttreaty.html
See for instance Joshua Williams & Jon B. Wolfsthal, The NPT at 35: A Crisis of Compliance or a Crisis of Confidence? UNA-USA Policy Brief no. 7¸29 April 2005 accessed at http://www.carnegieendowment.org/files/UNA_Policy_Brief.pdf
 See NPT Text at http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2005/npttreaty.html
 For complete analysis on the nuclear taboo and its moral foundation, see Nina Tannenwald, The Nuclear Taboo: The United States and the Non-Use of Nuclear Weapons Since 1945 (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007). Actually, it was not the first introduction of moral foundation on the analysis of nuclear non-use in the modern history of the past six decades. Henry Shue's book (1989) on “Nuclear Deterrence and Moral Restraint: Critical Choice for American Strategy”, among others, outlined the importance, as well as difficulties of imposing moral calculation on the US nuclear strategy.
Henceforth, analyses presented in the book are generally drawn from moral and philosophical perspectives, with less references on incidents/conflicts within which strategic decision on the use or non-use of nuclear weapons by the US and other world leaders might have or might have not taken. However, both Tannenwald's and Shue's studies provided excellent accounts on the question and role of leadership in the study of nuclear weapons and non-proliferation. See Henry Shue (ed), Nuclear Deterrence and Moral Restrain
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