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Nuclear Coronavirus CSS Blog

The US-China Clash over Corona Has Implications for Nuclear Arms Control

Image courtesy of the White House/Flickr.

This blog belongs to the CSS’ coronavirus blog series, which forms a part of the center’s analysis of the security policy implications of the coronavirus crisis. See the CSS special theme page on the coronavirus for more.

US-China relations are at a new low-point following the global spread of the coronavirus, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019. The pandemic has exacerbated tensions in what was already a fragile relationship, plagued by disputes on issues related to the South China Sea, Taiwan, trade, and 5G technology. Nuclear weapons, however, were not featured as a central element of the US-China confrontation, at least not at same level as other issues of contention, but this is likely to change. A recent call for China to drastically increase its nuclear arsenal published in the nationalistic Chinese newspaper the Global Times has revived a domestic debate on Chinese nuclear deterrence, highlighting concerns over perceived US hostile behavior.

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Nuclear

The P5 Must Reaffirm that Nuclear War Can’t Be Won and Mustn’t Be Fought

Image courtesy of US Department of State/Flickr.

This article was originally published in the ASPI’s The Strategist on 15 October 2019.

There are three sets of reasons for a palpable rise in nuclear anxieties around the world: growing nuclear arsenals and expanding roles for nuclear weapons, a crumbling arms-control architecture, and irresponsible statements from the leaders of some nuclear-armed states.

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Nuclear

New Era of Nuclear Rearmament

Image courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum.

This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 21 February 2019.

Thirty years ago, when the Berlin Wall was brought down marking the end of the Cold War, the threat of conflict between two nuclear-armed, ideologically opposed superpowers receded, and my generation, which had grown up in the shadow of the bomb, breathed a sigh of relief. Although the nuclear threat did not vanish then, it certainly became subdued as the process of disarmament and control seemed to move forward along a clear path of no return.

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Security

The Proposed Nuclear Ban Treaty: The Road to Utopia?

Courtesy of Erich Ferdinand/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) on 18 June 2017.

In late 2016, the United Nations decided to launch discussions on the establishment of a treaty banning all nuclear weapons, and on May 22, 2017 the Chair of the conference dealing with this issue presented a first draft of the proposed treaty. The proposed draft is of a treaty negotiated among states, not taking into account the existence of non-state entities that could be holding a trump card in the case of universal nuclear disarmament. Moreover, in many respects, the draft falls into the same troubling trap of previous treaties. It is a detailed treaty but with a number of loopholes that come to placate the diverse opinions and approaches of the states to the issue. Thus while striving toward nuclear disarmament is a noble goal, one must be realistic and not really expect the proposed treaty to achieve it.

A short time after nuclear weapons were used in World War II, a movement to eliminate these weapons, the most horrific weapons of mass destruction (WMD), began with what is known as the Baruch Plan. Although many governments and hundreds of non-governmental organizations supported and still support nuclear disarmament, their achievements(including the disarmament of South Africa, reductions of stocks, and a moratorium on testing that was not universally upheld) have been partial.

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Security Peace

How Can Arms Embargoes be Made More Effective?

Gun
Courtesy Thomas Hawk/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies on 4 October 2016.

The AU is taking a well-timed look at how arms embargoes can be better implemented.

Arms embargoes are the most common type of sanction currently applied by the United Nations (UN), and one of the five main types of targeted or smart sanctions (others are diplomatic sanctions, travel bans, asset freezes and commodity interdiction).

The key aim of smart sanctions is to raise the regime’s costs of non-compliance (with the sanctions) without bringing about the wider suffering often associated with comprehensive sanctions, such as trade bans.

How effective these embargoes are in Africa is the subject of much debate; not least because the continent has been subjected to the majority of arms embargoes since the UN’s first stand-alone arms embargo against apartheid South Africa in 1977. Since then, several African countries have faced such embargoes; some repeatedly. Liberia, for example, experienced a series of UN-imposed arms embargoes in varying degrees and forms between 1992 and 2016. Despite this, illicit weapons continued to be trafficked into the country.