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The nuclear landscape in 2004 : past, present, and future

Author: John Simpson; Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (Stockholm, Sweden)
Publisher: Stockholm, Sweden : Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, [2004?]
Series: WMDC (Series), no 3.
Edition/Format:   eBook : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
In June/July 1941 the UK Maud Committee produced two fateful reports, one on the use of uranium for a bomb, the second on its potential as a source of power. The nuclear age had begun. Fifty-nine years ago nuclear weapons were used for the first time against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since that point, a global taboo has been sustained on their use despite the slowly accelerating dissemination of knowledge of nuclear  Read more...
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Details

Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: John Simpson; Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (Stockholm, Sweden)
OCLC Number: 76806997
Notes: Title from PDF title screen (viewed November 27, 2006).
Description: 23 pages : digital, PDF file.
Details: Mode of access: World Wide Web.; System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Series Title: WMDC (Series), no 3.
Responsibility: John Simpson.

Abstract:

In June/July 1941 the UK Maud Committee produced two fateful reports, one on the use of uranium for a bomb, the second on its potential as a source of power. The nuclear age had begun. Fifty-nine years ago nuclear weapons were used for the first time against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since that point, a global taboo has been sustained on their use despite the slowly accelerating dissemination of knowledge of nuclear bomb design and its enabling technologies. This can only be regarded as a remarkable achievement, but one that was not inevitable. Neither is it guaranteed to last. Its achievement appears to have been a product of two factors: the inherent structural characteristics of the nuclear landscape that evolved after 1945 and the positive attempts made by governments to prevent use occurring. Among other things these attempts involved the creation of global governance structures for nuclear energy and the use of traditional bilateral diplomatic tools and, in some cases, conventional arms transfers. For the first four decades of the nuclear-weapon age, despite decolonisation and the subsequent increase in the n umber of states, the global nuclear landscape was dominated by the ideological conflicts between the leaderships of the Western and Eastern blocs. It remains unclear to what degree ideological differences drove the nuclear arming that occurred or the degree to which it was fuelled by its own internal dynamics and technological logic. The end of the ideological divide brought with it first a reduction, and then an extinguishing, of most of the antagonistic relationships that drove the first nuclear arms race. However, it took over ten years for this fact to be formally recognised by the Treaty of Moscow in 2002. It has left an ongoing conceptual, doctrinal, hardware and military materiel overhang, which continues to impact upon the threat perceptions and political configurations found in the current nuclear landscape, as well as intellectual thought concerning ti. The degree of that impact and the extent to which it will continue to influence perceptions remains problematic. While the two variables of changes in international politics and the evolution and diffusion of technology will continue to dominate the nuclear landscape for the foreseeable future, two new variables have now entered the picture. These are non-state actors/global terrorism and nuclear-weapon procurement systems operating outside the control of nation states. These new elements may take years, if not decades, to be fully assimilated into perceptions of the global political system and domestic nuclear governance mechanisms.

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