Nations’ right to own nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons are one of the most destructive, if not most destructive forms of technology on the planet. The right to own these horrific weapons has become a controversial question since their creation. Nations across the world see significance in owning nuclear weapons for many reasons (Greif). They can use them as a means of self-defense or use them in an aggressive fashion to gain international leverage and respect.

In order to get a good grasp of the nuclear discussion, one must know the difference between disarmament and non-proliferation. Disarmament refers to both the act of reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons with the end goal of creating a nonnuclear state. While non-proliferation means stopping the rapid production of something, and in this case is the production of nuclear weapons. The expansion of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), after the Cold War, was a big step in controlling nuclear weapons. During the Cold War thousands of nuclear weapons were created by powerful nations, out of fear of one another (History). This accessibility and escalation of nuclear weapons eventually led to tension between nations, because one false move and the entire world could have been destroyed.

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The five Nuclear Weapon States, recognized by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, include the United States of America (USA), Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China (Treaty). While the Unsanctioned Nuclear States include India, Pakistan North Korea and Israel. During the Cold War, nuclear weapons were proliferated primarily by the United States and Russia. While many nations have been eager to see a drop in the number of nuclear weapons, there are many who wish to obtain them. Aggressive nations like North Korea and Iran have started to develop nuclear technology and have been dealt with by isolationism and condemnation by multiple nations, including the United States So to really understand the issue, it must be seen from both sides. These weapons can be used for self-defense in a war situation, but also creates a higher possibility of deadly terroristic acts. Or it can also be seen from a humanitarian point of view, which can lead to the disarmament of nuclear weapons because they are so hazardous. Even now, nuclear weapons still cause major controversy and the question must be answered: Should all nations be allowed to arm themselves with nuclear weapons?

The idea of all nations owning nuclear weapons may sound dangerous, but growing amounts of evidence and theories claim they provide more protection than harm (Tepperman). According to Robert Rauchhaus, a political science professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, a number of scenarios could play out that may lead to stability. Rauchhuas supports the Rational Choice Theory and the idea of iron logic; this theory basically states a nation is less likely to instigate aggression toward another nation armed with nuclear technology, out of fear for its safety. Proponents of nuclear weapons believe this has been proven to a degree during the Cold War, because the USSR and USA both avoided direct military conflict out of fear of mutual destruction (Rauchhaus). For 13 days in October 1962, both the US and USSR each raised the stakes in their nuclear standoff (Cold War). Each nation raised their number of nuclear weapons every day in order to stay safe from the other; this lead to great tension between the powers and struck fear in the hearts of their citizens. Luckily, both realized this was a lose-lose proposition, ringing true the famous words of Winston Churchill: It may be that we shall by a process of subline irony have reached a stage in this story where safety will be the study child of terror, and survival the twin brother of annihilation. This means that with nuclear weapons, safety and destruction become two teams of a life or death ball game, where no one really wins. Based on the Cold War example, the threat of a nuclear war can be used to diffuse international conflict and prevent another tragedy, like the atomic bombings of Nagasaki or Hiroshima in 1945.

In addition, nuclear weapons give nations valuable agenda-setting power and demand respect. Small nations look up to nuclear armed nations, like the United States or United Kingdom, for support and protection. This is one of the major reasons Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader of North Korea, is developing these weapons of mass destruction. Major national powers will be forced to pay him attention and countries would think twice before taking aggressive action. Kim wanted to be respected as a leader and not looked down upon like the rest of his country. Another reason Kim Jun Un wants to obtain nuclear weapons, is to make sure his dictatorship is secure. He wants no international intervention in his country, and believes if he drops his nuclear weapons he can easily be executed or taken out of power like former leader of Iraq Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi (Cohen). These actions have led to multiple economic sanctions for North Korea, including a ban on exports, an oil embargo and assets freeze, which is slowly ruining the North Korean economy.

On the other hand, many believe that nuclear weapons should not be allowed to all nations. Weapons with this type of potential to destroy miles and kill thousands could never be trusted to crazed dictators or governments. No one county is safe if all nations would have access to nuclear weapons. If a terrorist group were able to obtain a nuclear weapon, they could cause complete havoc anywhere in the world. The possibility of this happening increase immensely if every nation has the right to nuclear weapons.

Furthermore, nuclear weapons pose a great threat to the Earth. According to professor Richard Turco of UCLA, even a small-scale nuclear war would put the Earth in critical condition. The amount of soot in the atmosphere would kill tens of millions of people and it would stay like that for over a decade (Jha). This soot would set in the Earth’s atmosphere, and be devastating to agriculture. It would also drop temperatures around the world, killing vegetation. The radiation given off by nuclear bombs are another key factor to the humanitarian argument. This radiation kills humans and other livings things in the area. It can also lead to cancer in humans and animals.

The development of nuclear weapons would take away funds from other national programs. Money would have to be diverted from education, health care, transportation, and other vital services. To keep up with other nation’s nuclear technology, millions of dollars would be spent in order to keep the country safe, and it wouldn’t be spent on helping the needy in that country.

Overall, no area of the world is safe if all countries have nuclear weapons. All it takes is one push of a button to start another World War and kill millions. This is too much power for a human to have, and it may lead to chaos if it is not stopped. After weighing both sides of the nuclear weapon argument, I don’t believe every country should have the right to own nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons should only be used as a last resort in war situations, when all other peaceful measures fail. These nukes have no other purpose then to destroy and murder, and could never be trusted in the hands of every nation. If terrorist groups were able to obtain these weapons, there would be no end to murder and the destruction of our beautiful planet. A possible nuclear war would affect the Earth for decades to come. It would pollute the air we breathe and contaminate the water we drink every day. It would also kill millions of living things and destroy mass amounts of vegetation.

This humanitarian view on the nuclear weapons issue really changed my opinion on the topic at hand. If every nation has the right to own these weapons, there is a much greater possibility of their use, which could kill us all. However, more research could be done for both sides of the nuclear weapon question in order to understand it even better. I also believe we should change the way this issue is discussed in today’s society. Corrupt nations and generally aggressive countries should not own these weapons, only nations determined to keep peace across the globe.

With possible future research and study, someone could see how the nuclear weapon issue in North Korea is progressing. If nuclear aggression takes place, this could change someone’s opinion on the topic and agree with my point of view.

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