Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

No Nukes is Good Nukes

One of the interesting aspects of world nuclear politics is that the United States has never renounced our willingness to use Nukes as “first strike” weapons. That is, every President has the power to push the Big Red Button and end the world without first having been nuked ourselves.

Dr. Strangelove is not impressed.In his quest for a world free of nuclear weapons, President Obama has taken
another significant step on top of the successful New START treaty – he has put limits on when the US would irradiate other nations. The Grey Lady has the scoop.

For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack.

If you’re a country toying with the idea of getting your hands on the Bomb – or simply a poor country trying to decide whether to sanction those who are – the glaring hypocracy of the Great Powers has to rankle.

According to the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the declared nuclear power states are supposed to negotiate towards “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” This hasn’t happened very much.

If the big boys are keeping their big nukes, it makes you feel more vulnerable.

This is of course doubly true since most of those powers with nukes have never agreed to not nuke a country that doesn’t have them. So Mutually Assured Destruction might seem to be the only sensible defensive plan from a game-theoretic point of view.

Anyway, with Obama’s declaration, those incentives shift a bit. The US will not nuke you if you attack us, even if you use chemical or biological weapons. (Wearing my other hat I have to snicker at the “crippling cyberattack” coming under the same rubric as, say, massive chemical attacks.

Unless, of course, you are outside of the framework of the NPT. Then we can bomb the living $#!+ out of you.

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