Experts Say

Nuclear weapons deter conventional wars

Gulf News
September 16, 2017
By Peter D. Zimmerman

This month, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will open for signature at the United Nations. Signatories will promise never to “develop, test, produce, manufacture ... possess or stockpile nuclear weapons”; never to transfer weapons to other parties nor to receive them; and never to “use or threaten to use nuclear weapons”. The treaty’s aims, if they could be universally effected, are noble. After all, the prospect of nations — including an international pariah like North Korea — facing off with their respective nuclear arsenals is horrific. Their renewed use in war would be catastrophic. But there is a risk in aiming for total nuclear disarmament, because deterring nuclear war isn’t their only legitimate use. Nuclear weapons also deter conventional war.
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