Since the Cold War, introducing nuclear weapons into the global system was one of the biggest changes that created a global phenomenon even after the year 1945 to the contemporary global politics. It has shaped the crucial aspects of the strategic actions of the states and transformed the international system. After experiencing two catastrophic global conflagrations, the global system has not triggered major wars and intra-regional wars over the post-Cold War period. However, utilising nuclear weapons to prevent world war should be treated with great attention as there are prospects of nuclear proliferation globally.
The traditional definition of security is being freedom from danger and risk. However, in this context of the global politics, it perceives ‘security’ as something that makes protection and creates sense of safeness. Thus throughout this essay, it will discuss the meaning of security in the means of how it was created through the influence of nuclear/ weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Firstly, it will analyse the changing attitudes of strategic studies post-Cold War in the developments of nuclear technology proliferation.
Moreover, it will critically discuss the influences of the nuclear weapons towards the security model in relations to why states still seek to develop weapon of mass destruction (WMD) in the contemporary global politics. Understanding the terror and recognising of the destruction capabilities of nuclear weapon in the contemporary era can be a challenge to the people of today as the last nuclear weapon detonated in 1945. Subsequently, it is important to observe the historical context of WMD development and study the intention of the WMD. 1940 was the year of the birth of the first nuclear arsenal named as ‘Ivy Mike’.
American physicists and their leader Edward teller developed nuclear armaments that was first detonated in 1945, (Balogun, 2011 p. 160) which was defined as; extreme scale immediate mass destruction. The strategic studies of the international relation have drastically changed in the past 20 years. Steve Smith’s The increasing insecurity of Security Studies: Conceptualising Security in the Last Twenty Years (1999) examines some aspect of security study literature in the last two decades. Smith addresses his main analyses of the changed perspective of the core subject nitially concentrated on state and military to human social security.
His view of what it is called the security studies in the contemporary system, moves away from the concentrating on the aspect of the military, WMD as the dominant issue but argues that the crucial issue is human security. On the other hand, Andrew O’Neil (2009) approaches the study in different perspective as he argues that WMD continues to act as the central role in international relations and in security studies as still in the contemporary system numerous states continues to value nuclear weapons as the supreme strategic possession for their security.
Synder (2000 p. 174) has given the two variables for explaining the dynamics of nuclear proliferations. The operative growth of nuclear arsenals among the superpowers can be identified as ‘vertical proliferation’. Furthermore, significant potential for the spread can be recognised in other technologically capable states to develop nuclear technology and this is recognised as ‘horizontal proliferation’. Increase in producing nuclear technology and actions of testing have developed public’s eye catching concern, which is in relations to both military and environmental crisis.
In generating nuclear power into the state it builds the sense of both security for the state conversely insecurity for human and the environment. Acknowledging the power of state after possessing nuclear weapons will definitely achieve security against external threat, nevertheless it is crucial to consider the aspect of economic effect on the state. In obtaining nuclearization, the state must have the capability in economic and technological terms.
Developing researches and building nuclear arsenal are phenomenally expensive even to sustain, whether the state is able to begin to build nuclear weapon programs, if the state is incapable to maintain their program effectively it would lead to the chances of misleading the program, thus may cause major threat to its own state. Moreover, nuclear arsenals under the programs can lead into the hands of the ‘rouge state’ (2000 p. 159). External threat of bribery from other rouge states can follow after the financial struggle of opening of the bureaucracy.
In the past states have failed to sustain the nuclear system as it is outstandingly costly, Soviet Union is one the example that diminished nuclear program due to lack of finical hold up. In this case, the state should pursue for other survival resources to provide security for their people, for instance; environmental sustainability and enhanced agriculture. Neo –classical realist assesses the state’s power and examines of the consequences of the nuclear proliferation, on why the state pursue changes in its power in relations to their declining power position in the global system.
Leaders and decision makers of their states are afraid of the strategic costs in their own actions in trying to achieve further and superior security. The NMD not only profoundly stresses the status quo (2000 p. 171), but it also threatens to create an incongruous actions to other states to produce or prepare a similar level of power of security to counter the external threat. Thus it generates a certain situation as known as; ‘acute security dilemma’ or a ‘cascade’ of nuclear proliferation, “an increase in one state’s security decreases the security of others” (Jervis, 1993 p. 8).
The states facing security dilemma are determined by the given factors of their geographic size and location, power of their equipped military and strategy. These factors are expected to manipulate the position of the state in the international system by means of security threats. Security dilemma actively elevates up and down the chances of conflictions between states, hence it shapes balancing strategies. In comprehending the occurrence of nuclear proliferation, it is important to understand the theory on why states pursue nuclear power.
In the means of security, constructivist have presented an insight on how to analyse the question of ‘‘How nuclear weapon technology mean different things in different places and times’ (Rogers, lecture), constructivist states that it is challenging to determine with the absence of calculating and the perceiving into giving attention to cultural, social and historical context of the state to how the definition came to assessable. Thus, it is important to develop an understanding of the purpose of WMD in the international system, with the question of why states seek to build nuclear power.
Numerous realist and non-realist scholars consider the ‘security model’ as the standard justification for occurrence of nuclear proliferation (Sagan, 1997). According to the security model states will, “develop nuclear weapons when they face a significant military threat to their security that cannot be met through alternative means. ” (1997 p. 54) Established on Waltz’s theory of neo-realism, a limited, although persuasive part of the realist theory; the security model was derived initially from the original thought of balance of power.
He puts forward his thought that states involves in competitive strategies for insure of their security and survival. In the short term, it is anticipated that states will weigh against from the changes in relative power that destabilise their position in the global system, externally by unifying with a nuclear armed state or internally by developing nuclear technology themselves. Further looking at the long term, states are likely to develop nuclear arsenals through imitating after observing an effective but also successive strategy attempted by states.
Sagan concludes that almost all the judgments to develop nuclear arsenals “appear to be best explained by the security model” (1997 p. 85). Consequently, the security model addresses a persuasive explanation regarding the theory nuclear proliferation. Three specific models are introduced in explaining the incongruous impact of nuclear proliferation; why states seek to build nuclear weaponry, in Sagon’s article, ‘Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? Three Models in Search of a Bomb’ (1997). Security model of ‘nuclear weapons and international threat’ is the first model Sagon introduces.
According to the neorealist, the international system is an anarchy which is driven by the threat of nuclear weapons where states are to equip for preparation for conflict. Absence of authority in the system, states can desire to choose to achieve self-help. However in spite of authority, there are strong and weak states that separate which states are capable of obtaining more power through nuclear weapons. The three factors are crucial in the makeup of a strong state, they are; powerful military, economy and politics.
As mentioned earlier, security dilemma is a result of proliferation but also in vis a versa producing a chain reaction, Sagon believes that ‘From this perspective, one can envision the history of nuclear proliferation as a strategic chain reaction’ (1997, p. 58). The previous model could not offer the whole explanation which the second model could explain whole reason why states pursue to develop nuclear weapons. The second model is, domestic politics model, it focuses on who encourages and discourage the state government to develop WMD.
Within the domestic level Sagon explain that there is also a chain reaction and maps out who governs the state to process of developing nuclear arms, Sagon says, ‘the acquisition of nuclear weapons … is likely to serve the parochial bureaucratic or political interests of at least some individual actors within the state’ (p. 63). In contrast to the security model, the causality is not ‘unidirectional’ (Rogers, 2012 lecture) but further complexity follows as it activates at the level within the state.
The last, third model that Sagan study is the norm model which addresses states as unitary actors and it concentrates on norms in reference to the possession of nuclear arsenals. It peruses to apprehend the role of nuclear weapons symbolically and argues that state’s actions are ‘determined by common beliefs about which actions are appropriate in the international community’ (p. 73). As a final point, the last model seeks to envision the forthcoming future for the potential of non-proliferation era.
The three models by Sagan have explained and provided a perception on the theatrical justification of nuclear proliferation on the reason behind states would seek nuclear power for the ultimate power for threatening external states. The studies of the three models demonstrated an aspect on how possession of a nuclear weapon can change the system drastically internally and externally through the distortion of the balance of power. Nonetheless, these models have also given the truth about the consequences that ultimate power can be achieved however; nuclear weapons will not necessarily provide or elevate complete state security.
In actual fact, this security practice also accompanies insecurity where the contemporary international system in presence of nuclear proliferation it is a challenge not to face security dilemma. The ongoing nuclear proliferation is one of the distress issues in the international system. The movement of the proliferation alters the balance of power between the states creating a possible eruption in the system. An example in the contemporary politics, North Korea has obtained nuclear and missile technology and have directed bomb testing which have intensified the tension between the two Koreas (2009).
Moreover, North Korea’s uncertain internal political activities may have created falsifiable knowledge, however this clearly demonstrates the security dilemma in the states surrounding as well as the allied superpowers are caused in the consequences of contemporary proliferation. In 1970, the regime of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) entered the international system which became the central focus in the non-proliferation organisation. It is a prime structure of managing the spread of nuclear weapons in the international system.
It is designed and bounded built from expectations by policy makers in solving security dilemma. The NPT operates as a normative regime, the treaty seeks to challenge why or why not state choose to build nuclear weapon but also examines state behaviours and perceptions in the state in accordance to their nuclear power (2000 p. 175). The NPT is influential and conspicuous in shaping the thought of policy makers and leaders of the state to determine whether the state should develop nuclear technology or not, allied or independent or as for energy provision.
Most importantly, it determines and suspects the validity of a nuclear armed state as well as their maintenance. Moreover, it is an arrangement between nuclear armed state which have agreed to nuclear materials and technology transmission to a non-nuclear armed state for peaceful determination, then this state obligate themselves to utilise nuclear materials and technology only for peaceful purposes and not dissuade its primary purpose to develop nuclear weapons (Bosch, 2007 p. 16).
According to the NPT, the current situation in North Korea and Iran are in the case of being outside of the normative framework. Only those state who act inside the normative framework are reflected as a proper state, states that are outside the framework are considered as an improper state and these states are recognised as ‘rouge states’ (2000 p. 159) From this, it is clear to vision the influential power of NPT in the international system in shaping state’s actions. Various debates have risen in regards to its unbalanced regime by the NPT.
In respect to the military rules NPT have regulated a biased and unequal military regime labelled as “imperial like imbalance” (Kissling 2008, p. 30). It is states that NPT lacks in some aspects of definite responsibility and keeping the timeframe to discharge nuclear weapons. Though NPT is considered influential, its role in accomplishing complete disarmament, negotiations in the international system has not been an effective control. Organisations and treaties such as Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation or the Fissile Material Cut off Treaty hardly enacted policies.
Primary time of the NPT regime, many states imposed the NPT’s disarmament commitment on nuclear technology through the prevention of aircraft and ship transports holding nuclear materials from entering the state boundaries. However, prohibition of nuclear armaments was infrequently imposed. Thus, lack of strict obligations, have made perpetual actions of nuclear proliferation within the states, including rouge state, which is still persists so far in the contemporary politics. 2008, p. 31)
Furthermore the NPT authorized nuclear armed states to conduct ‘peaceful nuclear explosions’ and in military purposes to experiment nuclear weapons, all below level zero. Comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty was finally enacted in 1996 and prohibited these actions of testing or detonating any nuclear weapons. Most importantly, states from NTP that possesses nuclear armaments and non-nuclear armed states have not yet ratified or signed for the NPT.
Hence, NPT still lack in the requirements to enter the international force. Consequences of these unresolved of complete disarmament by the NPT or any other non-proliferation regime, the threat of nuclear weapons will continue to rise and sense of fear and insecurity will continually follow The study of the structure, development, and history of the non-proliferation regime, analysing some of conflicting attitude to the issue has led to recognise that this contemporary politics are in a period trapped by the growing dangers.
Give the impression that more than ever, the regime of proliferation will continue to arise to be more powerful; however understanding of nuclear behaviour has limits as nuclear power also carries both great senses of security and insecurity for the state (Synder, 2000, p. 189). Nuclear weapon alone carries great amount of complexity. There it challenges external states, policy makers and leaders in determining nuclear armed state’s motivation and its behaviour especially rouge states attaining nuclear arsenals.
There are two paths in regards these consequences in the future; a state can strive towards or away from nuclear weapons. Non-proliferation and disarmament will occur as there are perspectives on states denuclearising due to the fall any of politic, economic, and military factors. Proliferation may continue due to the chain reaction of security dilemma encircling insecurity in the international system.
Thus this has developed critical thinking on why states still choose to pursue nuclear technology in the contemporary politics. Security models pointed by Sagan are filters to understand the theology of nuclear proliferation. WMD has challenged the thought on international security in the contemporary politics as the studies still haven’t settled with a definite answer of when the complete non-proliferation era will arrive, before then the sense of insecurity through security dilemma will encircle the international system.
Courtney from Study Moose
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