Unilateral disarmament, a term mostly used in the context of nuclear disarmament, is a policy option by a state to eliminate or reduce nuclear weapons without pursuing a corresponding demobilization from its real or impending adversaries. It is normally carried out by one country on its own. Generally, disarmament is decreasing the size or destruction aptitude of a country’s capacity for violence. In the present political situation, there is a risk of nuclear increase as well as the possibility of nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists. The global community has attempted numerous ways to curb the increase, such as the global disarmament treaties, diplomatic pressure, UN sanctions, and the non-proliferation treaties. Still, these attempts have achieved nearly the same outcomes, which are decreasing the number of nuclear weapons, but not averting the proliferation of nuclear weapons in rogue countries or the motivation to acquire them. As such, as the world`s superpower, America should take this initiative and lead the world by carrying out unilateral disarmament. By taking this initiative, it would probably avert unnecessary nuclear arms competition that is impending in the Northeast Asia and the Middle East. There are several nuclear threats, complications of nuclear proliferation, as well as the steps the US should take so as to prevent the non-nuclear nations from achieving nuclear capability. Also, there has been a lot of discussion on how America would benefit from unilaterally disarming itself, and how the initiative would fuel the goal of preventing more nuclear proliferation. The American government will save much by eradicating the maintenance cost of the nuclear weapons programs, which would ease the current financial constraints and the budget sequestration. By reviewing the available literature, the research paper proposes that the US should proceed with unilateral disarmament so as to lead by example and cut cost.
In the past few years, the world has witnessed a rise in nuclear proliferation between rogue countries, e.g. North Korea and Iran. The concern regarding the proliferation is that unsteady governments can obtain the weapons, increasing the possibility that terrorist groups will acquire them. This danger is a legitimate concern for the US, as well as the global community. At the end of the Cold War, the US and Russia signed several nuclear weapons treaties. These agreements were aimed at decreasing the number of nuclear weapons controlled. Although these treaties have succeeded in reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the two nations, they have not accomplished much in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons across the global community. If this issue of global nuclear proliferation is not looked into, the danger of terrorist groups gaining control of the nuclear weapons will remain real. In order to address the danger of nuclear proliferation, the United States needs to make a move to check the international presence of these weapons and ensure that terrorist or hostile groups cannot access them. Nonetheless, the issue of unilateral disarmament comes at a time when the federal government is facing critical financial distresses, including a huge debt and budget restrictions, such as the latest budget sequestration enforced by Congress. Since these measures cut the government spending, it is imperative that the government addresses the issue of its nuclear schemes for the financial gains that come after it. The discussion of unilateralism also comes when the United States is faced with huge financial constraints and is presently realizing sequestration of the budget. The Obama administration sorted the issue of proliferation and averting the terrorist groups from accessing nuclear weapons with the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (Pifer &Steven, 2013). The review outlined a new policy which stated that “the US will not use or threaten to use nuclear arms against non-nuclear weapons nations that are party to the non – proliferation treaty (NPT)”. The review also outlines one of the administration’s goals of “pursuing for the peace, as well as security of a world free of nuclear weapons”. The objective of the nuclear disarmament has, though, raised some concerns. The stakeholders believe that the elimination of nuclear weapons would leave America vulnerable, since it would lower the apparent strength of its military power as well as its retaliation force.
In order to get a good understanding of how the US will be able to proceed with unilateral disarmament, we will evaluate the international treaties that the government has entered into affirming its intentions to eradicate its nuclear weapons. After the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union started a nuclear arms competition that led to a drastic buildup of their nuclear stores to alarming amounts. The reason behind this was that each country would be capable of mutually assured destruction (MAD). MAD made sure that each of the two countries had the capability of retaliating fully in kind with nuclear weapons in case of an attack. At the end of this period, both nations signed a treaty aimed at elimination of nuclear weapons so as to reduce their nuclear stores, with America aiming at the final goal of complete disarmament. These treaties have helped lower the number of nuclear weapons, although they have not helped a lot in the international objective of complete disarmament. The treaties also assisted the US to move towards with it disarmament policy; nevertheless, the international treaties will eventually provide the structure that it will need so as to proceed with nuclear disarmament. In 1968, the NPT was agreed upon by several nuclear as well as non-nuclear nations. The treaty aimed at reducing nuclear weapons as well as encouraging nuclear disarmament, but it allowed the party members to pursue nuclear technology for productive purposes apart from weaponry. This arrangement was intended to force the non-nuclear nations to stay without nuclear weapons, and to encourage the nuclear nations to prevent nuclear increase and follow disarmament. Another treaty with an objective of refining the conduct of nations regarding the use of nuclear weapons is the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The treaty was constituted to ban all nuclear testing worldwide (Kissinger, et al, 2013). The majority of the nations with nuclear weapons has already consented to this treaty and is presently observing the ban. The US has not fully ratified this treaty but it observes it as it no longer sees nuclear weapons as the center of its national security and it does not need to carry out the tests. CTBT allows the global community to punish nations, who carry out nuclear weapons testing, in contrast to the advice of the other nuclear nations.
The threats of nuclear proliferation have increased due to several factors, including the last atomic bomb incident in Japan which saw the UK, China, and France develop and test their nuclear weapons. This move increased the number of nations in possession of these weapons and further increased the risk of a nuclear war, which in turn forced more countries to follow nuclear weapons believing that they needed the weapons for their defense. The proliferation is still occurring, for example, in Iran. On the contrary, some nations, e.g. the allies of the US, have not ventured or increased their nuclear weapons because they were guaranteed protection provided by the US. Also, some nuclear programs were created as a result of the perceived danger of a country`s neighbor or enemy acquiring the technology, prompting the non-nuclear nation to believe that it was at a risk and it needed the technology for protection. One of the examples is Pakistan; it developed its nuclear weapons program principally to deter the nuclear weapons of India. In the scenario of Iran and North Korea, they both initially created peaceful nuclear energy schemes, but later turned into nuclear weapons, thus, violating the global disarmament treaties, as well as the UN Security Council directives, and have so far resisted the pressure to stop the production. They both consented to the NPT, but later decided to withdraw in order to venture into nuclear weapons. The possession of nuclear arms by these two nations possesses a security threat to the world. For instance, Iran has threatened to use nuclear weapons against Israel, while North Korea has threatened the US and South Korea. The threat of nuclear proliferation is also increasing as a result of the rising risk of the unstable governments acquiring nuclear weapons (Joshi & Sharad, 150). Thus, proliferation is the best response for non-nuclear nations. The global community, especially the US, addresses this concern by responding with diplomatic means as well as economic sanctions. Conversely, this reaction has not deterred nations from creating nuclear weapons schemes in the past, and is not likely to succeed in the future. Thus, the US should adopt a different approach to preventing proliferation in the future by disarming unilaterally. Unilateral disarmament reduces fears and tensions and streamlines cooperation. In simple terms, disarming can resolve a dangerous situation because it is viewed as gesture of good intent and reduces the perceived threat that one poses to others. Furthermore, it can inspire reciprocal behavior among wannabe rivals.
The United States should also proceed with unilateral disarmament in order to further its main policy goals. In its 2010 Nuclear Overview Review, the Obama administration recognizes its main policy goals as preventing nuclear proliferation, diminishing the role of nuclear weapons in security planning, as well as working towards elimination of the US’s nuclear weapons. The main objective of preventing proliferation is to avert the unstable regimes from terrorizing the world. If these regimes are allowed to possess nuclear weapons, they are given the room to use the weapons against non-nuclear nations as a form of intimidation forcing them to give in to their demands (Doyle, James, 30. This also gives them room to use nuclear weapons as a first response (Liping &Xia, 2010). The US government has changed its policy from the previous government’s policy of revolutionizing nuclear weapons and using them as a component of its national security plan to one where it will not use or threaten to use nuclear arms against non-nuclear weapons nations that are parties to the NPT. In instituting such policies that do not advocate for the use of nuclear weapons, the US is inspiring others to settle differences diplomatically, or through conventional approaches rather than a nuclear response. This lowers the US reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence and pushes the administration to shift the focus of the national security plan from nuclear to strictly conventional weapons. Another identified goal of the Obama administration is to toil to create a safe world free of nuclear weapons. As stated by President Obama in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, the steps the United States should take to realize the “global zero” are to avert proliferation, offer a greater transparency in the nuclear weapon competencies, and impose strong measures to avert violations. He has drawn a comprehensive plan to assist all nuclear nations reduce their programs. In order to succeed, there must be an aspect of trust in the global community that the nuclear nations such as the US proceed with their decisions to disarm with the maximum cooperation of global organizations. President Obama should proceed with unilateral disarmament as the only way America can accomplish its obligation to create a safer world without nuclear weapons.
The United States is presently facing a debt crisis, as in 2011 Congress passed a law that obliged both the Republicans and the Democrats to reach the 2012budget agreement or get the automatic spending cuts of up to one trillion dollars over ten years. Congress did not pass the 2013 budget and thus the automatic spending cuts matured forcing the federal government to sequestrate the budget, highly reducing the government programs including the defense which amounted to twenty three percent. A reduction of this extent could sternly cripple the American military. As such, the Department of Defense is seeking for a means of cutting the defense budget without affecting the critical defense programs. One of the ways is to eliminate the cost associated with nuclear weapons programs and other weapons of mass destruction through unilateral disarmament.
As seen in the above discussion, the current US administration has made it clear that its objective is complete disarmament, and it will be achieved by reducing the role of nuclear weapons and emphasizing conventional forces. Examining this new role, the US requires emphasis on the three main areas of importance: reducing the role of nuclear weapons in America, making moves towards nuclear disarmament, as well as relying on conventional approaches as an alternative. It is suggested that the high value endowed on nuclear weapons has a negative impact as it makes the nations reluctant to give it up (Albright, et.al, 2010). There are several moves the US can make including actual ratification of treaties, improvement of the role of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), provision of greater transparency and verification of the reduction in nuclear weapons, and prevention of nuclear materials reaching non-nuclear nations. Lastly, for the US to move towards nuclear disarming, it needs to have an alternative deterrence and protection method from attacks on itself and its allies. Conventional forces are the best alternative suggested here since its conventional forces are greater than of any other countries.
Unilateral disarmament is a policy option by a state to eradicate nuclear weapons without seeking for the same move from its actual or possible enemies or neighbors. Presently, there is a risk of increase in nuclear weapons as well as the risk of these weapons falling into the hands of wrong people, such as hostile or terrorist groups. The international community has attempted numerous approaches in the past to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons but has not been fully successful. As a superpower, the US should lead by example and proceed with unilateral disarmament. The US has entered into several treaties with Russia, leading to a decrease in the nuclear stockpile of the two nations, but has not achieved the same effect across the globe. The Obama’s administration has shown commitment to disarmament and one of its major goals is to work towards the goal of a nuclear free world. Also, America is faced with a huge financial strain and as such it can cut much of its cost by abandoning the nuclear programs. Lastly, the threats of nuclear proliferation are (and can only be) addressed by unilateral disarmament, which will reduce tension and fears while at the same time promoting international cooperation. Considering the above points, it can be argued that it is most logical for the United States to carry on with unilateral disarmament.