In 1957, Henry Kissinger aptly wrote that ‘ever since the end of the Second World War brought us not the peace we sought so earnestly, but an uneasy armistice, we have responded by what can best be described as a flight into technology: by devising ever more fearful weapons. The more powerful the weapons, however, the greater become the reluctance to use them.'  He referred to the nuclear weapons as a powerful device that deters superpowers from major conflicts. His vision proved to be true, albeit difficult process of negotiations on nuclear disarmament throughout the Cold War period and beyond. Henceforth, common reluctance to use these deadly arsenals does not necessarily stop powerful states from acquiring them up to a certain deterrent level. Instead, nuclear weapons are even proliferated and technically perfected, and this, in my view, is the most striking dilemma and serves as the paradox of nuclear weapons.
The year 2010 will be a very critical year for multilateral negotiation and talks on nuclear arms control and nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),  since the future of NPT and the progress and implementation of each of its article will be assessed through its five-yearly Review mechanism. In particular, what it makes more crucial and fascinating is the promise made by US President Barack Obama on potential reduction of nuclear weapons.
In his policy statement delivered in Prague, April 5th, 2009, President Barack Obama has made it very clear that he envisioned ‘a world that is free from nuclear weapons.' Five months later, pouring all influence, persuasion and personal charms, President Obama chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council, which unanimously supported his vision.
President Obama's initiative and political will his administration is willing to invest to build a critical mass and new thrust needed to move the troubled NPT in the next Review Conference in 2010. Yet, one must be well aware that reviving the NPT requires more than just rhetoric.
One of the main articles of NPT, Article VI, clearly stipulates that the nuclear weapons states parties to the Treaty are under obligation to negotiate in good faith a nuclear weapons disarmament treaty under strict and effective international control at the earliest possible date. Unfortunately, the sole multilateral negotiating forum entrusted to negotiate nuclear disarmament treaty, the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, has failed to start the negotiations ever since it managed to conclude painstakingly the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
At this point, one important question to ask is whether or not the international community should see President Obama's recent drive to revive the negotiation of the reduction of US - Russia nuclear arsenals as an integral part of this long-term vision—a world that is free of nuclear weapons. Furthermore, what strategy are now being devised to ensure the success of negotiation on both bilateral and more importantly multilateral fronts, provided that attempts to any reduction—particularly as dramatic and steep as it was contained in recent Obama's initiative—will encounter serious hurdles and challenges.
It therefore surely remains to be seen whether this bilateral negotiation is driven by President Obama's long-term vision to totally get rid of these weapons of mass-destruction or by other ulterior motives. As mandated by Article VI of the NPT, negotiations on nuclear disarmament should be conducted multilaterally. Besides, if nuclear weapons were fought the whole world would suffer. It is therefore unfair to sideline the non-nuclear-weapons possessing states in the negotiation.
The study therefore discusses the dynamics of nuclear disarmament proliferation treaty, by analyzing the policy of the U.S.—as one of the major nuclear weapon states (NWS)—on nuclear proliferation, and its interaction towards other nuclear states. It tries to answer one key question: ‘Why are the nuclear-weapons-possessing states, as parties to the NPT, so reluctant to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear weapons disarmament treaty under strict and effective international control?'
As the study carries the task to provide a clear understanding on the hesitation of nuclear weapon states in negotiating a comprehensive disarmament, it is therefore considered important for us to look at the theoretical as well as policy contexts. Hence, discussion presented in the study is threefold, namely: (1) the conceptual framework and theoretical foundations; (2) policy development surrounding nuclear disarmament; and; (3) the recent dynamics of NPT in conjunction with the attitude of the U.S. as one of the major nuclear weapons states.
II. Conceptual Framework and Theoretical Foundations:
Imagining Security, Survival and National Interests
This study argues that the nuclear weapons states are so reluctant to negotiate the treaty for they firmly believed that their security and indeed existence (survival) critically hinges upon these weapons of mass-destruction, retaining and perfecting them thereby are mandatory. That above argument also underpins the departing point of our journey to understand the extent to which sense of insecurity and need for survival reinforce nuclear weapons states' reluctance to conduct nuclear disarmament negotiations.
The concepts of security and survival are essentially parts of the national interests of any state, including the nuclear weapon states. The two key concepts along with its national interest maximization are also core concepts of realism in the study of international relations.
Under the logic and circumstances of anarchy, states are assumed to always rely on its own capability for survival. It is therefore a self-help system of international relations within which states and nations are living.
Furthermore, a state, especially the smaller or less-powerful one, does have limited options or strategies for its survival. In a rather simplistic illustration, states can either compete or cooperate in advancing its respective national interests. Henceforth, to the realists, state of anarchy makes it more difficult for any state to cooperate with one another. In pursuing this, states often find themselves at odd to build alliance(s) with other states, yet, without any solid assurances concerning full commitments of each member of these cooperative and/or non-cooperative situations.
There are a number of theories to explain that, widely stemming from the sense of insecurity to creating absolute gains (neo-liberal tradition) to building a complex of security identity (as proposed by a more recent constructivist tradition of international relations).
Robert Jervis (1978) posed a valid question of why states would cooperate, provided that anarchy and the security dilemma make cooperation seemingly impossible. In other words, presumably, there must be some mechanisms which would allow states to bind themselves (and other members of the alliance) not to defect, or a mechanism by which to detect defection at the earliest possible stage, which enable an appropriate early response.
In so doing, states often find themselves under a dilemma—security dilemma. Despite of the many definitions and understanding on what constitute security dilemma, the essence of the dilemma is that “security seeking states more often than not get too much and too little, by assuming military posture that resembles that of an aggressor, which in turn causes states to assume the worst, and these attempts to increase security are consequently self-defeating.” The more a state increases its security, the more it is likely for other state(s) to become insecure.
In order to understand the situation under which security policies and strategies are formulated and thus executed, Jervis examines the conflicting situations by providing two basic models for situations of tension and conflict, based on the intentions of the adversary: spiral and deterrence. In the spiral model, intentions of both actors are objectively benign, whereas in the deterrence model, intentions of the adversary are malign.
Furthermore, in his deterrence model, Jervis (1976) ‘introduces a concept of malign power-seeking adversary, whereby actors in this situation are pursuing incompatible goals thus, making the strategy of deterrence the best possible option. In contrast, in the spiral model—often referred to as the true or ‘purest' security dilemma situation, both actors are security-seekers, thus their interests are compatible.' Yet, as analyzed by Andrej Nosko (2005), ‘the problem remains the inability of actors to distinguish which game they are playing, and what are the intentions of their adversaries.'
Although, according to Jervis it may not be possible to overcome the dilemma completely, it still may be possible to ‘break out of the security dilemma.' He therefore suggests two major solutions to overcome the situation: Firstly, ‘to check the cognitive processes, when the adversary's intention is being perceived, so that the adversary is understood correctly.' His second suggestion is ‘to employ specific military posture consisting of procurement of weapons that are useful for deterrence without simultaneously being as effective for aggression.' Those practical suggestions form a powerful tool of analysis in what is referred to as ‘offense-defense balance variables', which are significant extension to the security dilemma further expanded by Jervis (and also by Glaser and Kaufmann, among others), as shown in the matrix below.
Source: , Strategy, Security Dilemma, and the Offense-Defense Balance, lecture material, accessed from http://ocw.tufts.edu/data/58/726832.pdf.
In regard with the logic of nuclear weapons capability, it surely remain unclear whether or not the nuclear warheads installed in various Inter-Continental or Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs/SLBMs) constitute offensive or defensive, since the defense against ICBMs is ICBMs (deterrence) and SLBMs, on the other hand, are less accurate hence defensive. Therefore, security dilemma can be removed accordingly through the significant reduction of the number of nuclear warheads.
As actors are striving to attain security while they are driven to acquire more and more power in order to escape the impact of the power of others, thus the intentions and motives of the actors are important primarily for any realists.
In the U.S. case, while intentions for major reduction in its nuclear capability seemed to be imminent, yet, one looming question is whether other ‘adversarial nuclear weapons states such as North Korea would immediately follow the suit to reduce or eliminate its nuclear capabilities.' Critics and pessimists were quick to answer that such a possibility for others to bandwagon and support the U.S. initiatives are too far-fetched, for a number of reasons such as the national aspiration to obtain nuclear capabilities, sense of insecurity, and the need to “hedge” its national security from possible nuclear outbreak in the future as part and parcel of their national threat perception.
At this point, it is important to add other major concepts in the study of security from the lenses of (neo-)realism, as presented by Waltz (in his systemic self-help and survival theories) or Buzan in his concepts of threats and vulnerability. The links of these various concepts are quite clear: within a convoluted and uncertain international environment, it is postulated that ‘the mere uncertainty of international life creates a threatening environment for a state.'
While threats are normally coming from outside the country, vulnerabilities are, on the other, internal in nature, which demonstrate a ‘deficiency in the capability of a state to manage its security affairs.' As argued further by Buzan, vulnerability can be reduced primarily by increasing self-reliance, or by countervailing forces to deal with specific threats. Hypothetically speaking, obtaining or maintaining the level of nuclear warheads to hedge its security interests vis-a-vis other states is a ‘double-edged sword' that can be used to minimize both threats and reduce vulnerability at the same time.
The theoretical approach of this study suggests that there is a strong interlink between domestic/national considerations (i.e. political alignments in domestic politics and other domestic factors) on what constitute national vulnerability (which may derived from different sources of insecurity, widely stemming from economic, political, as well as the level of military capability relative to others, and vice versa) and threatening international system and environment (including not only the emerging and continued threats from its adversaries, but also the uncertainty of international regimes). This, for instance, has been quite evident in the case of Post-9/11 U.S. security policy in which strong bipartisanship on the Hill on what constitute major threat to security and how it should be overcome was built. Arguably, political dynamics will always affect a decision made by the Executive, and even more so in the national security domain. And a policy maker would eventually take all these into his or her consideration. Presumably, President Obama's decision on the steep reduction—even elimination of nuclear warheads—was the result of these various considerations e.g. shared concerns amongst the elites over the possible illegal and illicit spread of nuclear warheads.
III. Relative Peace amidst Constant Threats of Nuclear Annihilation:
Deterrence, Negotiations, and Idiosyncrasy
Indeed, in reality, questions and discourses surrounding nuclear weapons and its delivery systems remain as elusive and fascinating as ever, both in its theoretical and practical terms. One of the difficult puzzles that the epistemic community of international relations and strategic studies has been trying to understand and explain is the fact that despite its imminent threats of destruction within the context of intense Cold War, no single nuclear weapon has been used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. While this is surely a surprising, yet, welcomed situation, especially amongst non-nuclear weapons states, yet, it does not mean that the world is totally free from the fear and threats of global destruction caused by nuclear war.
Arguably, this relative peaceful situation can be understood at least through three different prisms: first, the role of deterrence; second, diplomatic measures and negotiations; and, third, idiosyncrasy.
Deterrence. In essence, a number of scholars and practitioners are convinced that nuclear capability has been playing an important role in deterring (external) threats. Furthermore, nuclear deterrence provides strategic blanket in three specific terms: first, protection against attacks with nuclear weapons; second, protection against attacks with conventional forces; and, third, indefinable additional diplomatic clout.
Theoretically, some analysts of international relations and strategic studies believe that the relative peace is attainable mostly through effective deterrence, coercion, and all its derivative concepts such as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) and Balance of Terror. In his robust argument, Robert Jervis (1989) reiterated ‘the significance of the theory of the nuclear revolution: in a world of mutual second-strike nuclear capability (where an adversary's first strike cannot prevent a state's retaliation), military victory in a total war is impossible.'
The handling of strategic nuclear weapons policy is also not without any idealistic consideration. In the hands of policy handlers, apart from the need to deter, another major consideration surrounding strategic nuclear policy is the moral and ethical dilemma that entail. For the US as a major nuclear weapons state, for instance, the dilemma is aptly captured by Robert E. Osgood (1988), who clearly stated the following:
In the period since World War II, the United States has encountered moral and strategic issues concerning the management of force in peacetime that are unique in its historical experience and novel in the history of international politics. At the core of these issues lies a dilemma—namely, the moral (as well as ethical) and strategic predicament of being unable to pursue one course of action without incurring the disadvantage of another. It arises from the dependence of military security on nuclear weapons. This nuclear dilemma lurks in the background of every major military strategic choice and suffuses all major strategic debates. The history of US strategic thought can be largely be comprehended as the story of how Americans have tried to cope with this dilemma by rejecting, abolishing, or mitigating it.
Furthermore, he continued by defining precisely the dilemma the US (as arguably other nuclear weapons states) is facing in regard with its nuclear arsenal depository, as follows:
The nuclear dilemma is simply an expression of the momentous fact that the security and peace of the United States and its major allies depend heavily on the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons, and on the fact that this deterrent, if used, would very probably lead to self-defeating destruction and, possibly, an ecological catastrophe for much of civilization.
In his critical analysis, Wilson (2008) however seriously questioned the role of deterrence in preventing the outbreak of nuclear war. His arguments rest on the assumption that the policy makers have so far misunderstood the true concept of deterrence. He maintained that that the logics of nuclear deterrence, as widely perceived by the policy-makers, were unwarranted simply because they either built on a fallacy of assumptions or were based on disproven facts. Countering Kissinger's arguments that nuclear attacks would likely to happen on major populous cities, as happened on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Wilson asserted that there has been no single solid evidence on the intention of the former USSR to attack U.S. major cities even at the height of nuclear tension during the Cold War. As he argued further,
An examination of the practical record of nuclear deterrence shows doubtful successes and proven failures. If the conventional wisdom is wrong—if nuclear weapons might not deter nuclear attacks, do not deter conventional attacks, and do not reliably provide diplomatic leverage—then the case for disarmament, nonproliferation and banning nuclear weapons is immeasurably strengthened.
In the post 9/11 tragedy, the nature and logic of asymmetric wars has added more complexity to the already difficult policy options. Fear from the possibility of illicit transfer and/or nuclear acquisitions by the so-called ‘terrorist groups', it is very clear that the US and its allies have been undertaking all possible diplomatic initiatives and even military actions to deny these groups' access to any nuclear materials.
Negotiations and Diplomatic Measure. It is also worth to mention the role of diplomacy and diplomatic efforts in ensuring countries do not resort to their nuclear arsenal to settle whatever disputes they may have with one another. In this regard, the role of negotiators in ensuring the commitments and compliance of all states—both nuclear and non-nuclear ones—to international code of conducts and norms of non-proliferation is also significant.
To date, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) remains at the very helm of global endeavor to keep the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and at the same time, restraining states from diverting its peaceful nuclear program towards provocative and militaristic uses.
Corollary to this is the most authoritative nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime—the NPT- which was concluded in 1968 and has entered into force since 5 March 1974. Consisting of a Preamble and 11 articles, more often than not that the treaty is widely interpreted as “a three pillar system”, namely: non-proliferation; disarmament ; and the right to peacefully use nuclear technology.  In operation, a safeguards system to verify compliance with the NPT is established under the auspices of the IAEA one of which is conducted through site inspections. As outlined in the Treaty, NPT seeks to promote cooperation in the field of peaceful nuclear technology, including the use of nuclear energy and equal access to this technology for all States parties, and provide safeguards that prevent the diversion of fissile material for the development of nuclear weapons.
Idiosyncrasy. In contrast with the above analysis on the role of deterrence and diplomatic measures, a more recent study by Nina Tannenwald (2007) revealed a striking fact concerning the idiosyncratic factor of U.S. leaders regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Drawing on newly released archival sources, Tannenwald was able to dispute the widely accepted theory of deterrence as primary inhibitor to an open and global-scale nuclear war. Instead, she was in favor of what she calls a nuclear taboo, a widespread inhibition on using nuclear arsenals—which has arguably arisen in global politics.
By analyzing four critical instances of wars where U.S. leaders considered using nuclear weapons (namely Japan 1945, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War 1991), Tannenwald produced a rich and convincing explanation on how the nuclear taboo has successfully helped prevent the U.S. and other world leaders from resorting to these ultimate weapons of mass-destruction.  In other words, Tannenwald believed that there has been some moral ingredient within the policy makers in regard with the use of nuclear weapons.
Furthermore, from the leadership perspective and beliefs, Jacques E.C. Hymans (2006) convincingly demonstrates that leaders do play significant role in achieving nuclear capabilities. Based on his findings on contending interests of leaders in the attainment of nuclear capabilities, he suggests three possible responses: first, a stricter international non-proliferation regime—controlling supply-demand side; second, nuclear abolition, in which the nuclear weapons states make much ‘more serious efforts towards disarmament' and ‘resist the temptation to threaten nuclear attacks against non-nuclear weapons states', as they promised to do in Article VI and again at the NPT Review Conference in 2000; and, third, preventive military action/intervention against regimes whose leaders harbor nuclear weapons ambitions.
Apparently, those three responses are in combination taking place in today's world politics and international security. Despite their differences in mode of operation, all three prescriptions above do tell us common assumption that: nuclear weapons are highly attractive to many states; that nuclear weapons tend to proliferate. As argued by Hymans, ‘the ultimate solution to the proliferation puzzle lies in some sort of fundamental change to the international system, be it sovereignty-crashing inspections, universal disarmament, or a wholesale revision on the laws of war.'This entails the need to change the way international law operates, which so far is seen as rather ineffective to ensure compliance. As radical it may sound, yet, it is surely rather difficult to be implemented on the ground.
IV. Recent Major Development:
A Fresher Outlook of Multilateral Negotiation?
As one of the key nuclear weapons states, The U.S. has sheer diplomatic and military clout over the future of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons at the global scale. In this regard, it is important to note that any debate concerning the future of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is strategically important and critical.
This has been truer especially since the new Obama Administration has expressed its commitments to pursue a deep and steep cut in its nuclear force, and to launch a major review of U.S. nuclear policy, which will hopefully be submitted to the Congress in February 2010. With its 2,200 operational strategic warheads (while the overall U.S. force to date is merely a fraction of one-fourth of its size a decade ago), yet, it is more capable to destroy an adversary's nuclear weapons before they can be used.
In the realm of nuclear disarmament negotiations, the weight the U.S. diplomacy can throw to the success or failure of the negotiations is also visible. This was clearly shown, for instance, in President Obama's success to round commitments from the P-5 countries during last UNSC Summit on NPT on 24 September 2009, which unanimously adopted UNSC Resolution 1887 (2009). Resolution 1887 itself spells out, inter-alia, the “calls upon States Parties to the NPT to comply fully with all their obligations and fulfil their commitments under the Treaty” as well as refrain themselves from nuclear test explosion and sign the CTBT, and also exercise stricter measures to sensitive materials”—as means to avoid nuclear warheads from falling into the terrorist group.
The expected band-wagonning effect of the U.S. commitments, especially on the part of non-nuclear weapons states that are parties to NPT, will be prominent, thus, making the study of the Obama Administration's nuclear policy becomes more critical in our attempts to understand the dynamics of nuclear disarmament multilateral negotiations.
But, what is the real impact of President Obama's initiatives on the future nuclear disarmament multilateral negotiations?
To begin with, the U.S.—like any other country, has its own strategic sense of security—and even vulnerability, as reflected in the contours of its proliferation policies of the past decade or so.
Sense of Insecurity. The threat of terrorism is one that is getting more prominence since 9/11. But deep beneath its psyche, the U.S. Government(s) continue to assert the US nuclear strategy does not hinge any longer on being able to deter a single, comparably powerful, nuclear rival. It goes even further beyond that. For instance, the Bush administration's 2002 National Security Strategy embraced ‘pre-emptive' attacks, against certain potential adversaries, rather than a strategy of deterrence, under the assumption that terrorist groups and even certain ‘rogue' states cannot be deterred.'
Furthermore, the same Administration stated in its 2006 National Security Strategy that despite its recognition to address the issues of proliferation through diplomacy and in concert with its allies and partners, the ‘the place of pre-emption in our national security strategy remains the same.'
Departing from his predecessors' position, in his illuminating speech in Prague, President Obama introduced a (new) calculus of US nuclear strategy. He outlined the intention of the U.S. to, among others, ‘aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)', ‘seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons as means to cut off the building blocks needed for a bomb', and ‘strengthen the NPT as basis for cooperation.'
He further shared some initiatives for international cooperation. These include the efforts to strengthen the treaty and to need put resources and authority to strengthen international inspections, as well as the need to build a new framework for civil nuclear cooperation including an international fuel bank. He also called for “real and immediate consequences” for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the treaty without cause—referring to the North Korea and Iran specifically.
President Obama's promise to fulfill his ‘world-that-is-free-from-nuclear-weapons' vision indeed sparked optimism. Analyst like Tom Sauer (2009) even predicts that “the nuclear weapon states may opt sooner for nuclear elimination than generally expected, due to five factors: first, the danger of nuclear proliferation; second, the risk of nuclear terrorism; third, the nuclear taboo—as outlined earlier; fourth, the technological advancement of missile defense against nuclear arsenals, which reduced the ‘shock and awe' capability of nuclear weapons; fifth, the increased importance of international laws.
While the optimism seems to be warranted, yet, it might be too little too soon for us to conclude that the age of nuclear proliferation is practically over. President Obama's promise will face a number of hurdles, from within and outside the U.S.
Nuclear Rivalries. It will be immediately tested this year when the US and Russia resume haggling on an arms reduction pact and again meet at the crucial UN nuclear arms conference in May. Whether or not the American and Russian negotiators could agree on a successor pact to replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) to cut nuclear weapons would serve as the litmus test on the feasibility of President Obama's calls. START-1 was an initiative proposed by the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1982, and completed under the administrations of U.S. President George H. W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991. As stipulated by the treaty, each country could deploy no more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles — the single largest bilateral reductions in history.”
The concerns—and indeed stakes are now getting much heightened particularly since both Washington and Moscow missed their deadline in December to agree to ‘a new arms control treaty, which would have cut the world's two largest nuclear arsenals by up to a third, though they vowed to generally abide by the old one while continuing negotiations.' The good news is that the overall outline of the new treaty is apparent. At a meeting in Moscow in July 2009, Presidents Obama and Dmitry Medvedev narrowed the range for a cap on warheads to between 1,500 and 1,675, down from about 2,200, which each side now has. They are also expected to lower the ceiling on delivery vehicles - intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based missiles and strategic bombers - to below 800, from 1,600. 
It is widely believed that ‘a successor to START-1 would help restore relations between Moscow and Washington, which recently sank to a post-Cold War low due to many political and diplomatic upheavals as shown in the rift between the two countries over problems in Chechnya, Russian attacks on Georgia in August 2008, and so forth. In that sense, the new treaty should become ‘another milestone in disarmament and non-proliferation, taking the interaction between the US and Russia to a higher level and reaffirming their common goal of promoting mutual as well as global security.'
While the US and Russia are now still grappling over a few key differences (e.g. verification procedures) in their respective position concerning the common policy of nuclear weapons/warheads reduction, there are no guarantees that talks would yield a provisional accord. More fundamentally, the problems between these two largest and most important nuclear weapon states are more deeply rooted.
Some within the U.S. strategic elites, particularly from the “republican camp,” argued that U.S. policymakers need to critically examine Russia's views on nuclear weapons and doctrine. While successive U.S. Administrations have announced that Russia is no longer the enemy, Russia still considers the United States its “principal adversary,” despite President Barack Obama's attempts to “reset” bilateral relations. U.S. national leadership and arms control negotiators need to understand Russia's nuclear doctrine and negotiating style as they are, not as the U.S. wants them to be.
In addition, Russia is not the only nuclear rival that the U.S. is facing. In the longer term, China, as dubbed by many analysts and observers, is likely to pose serious “challenges” to the status of the U.S. as the world's dominant hyper-power. The rise of China as prominent nuclear power would eventually
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