International Security on the Road to Nuclear Security

by Dr. Nancy Gallagher

The Nonproliferation Review
June 2011

The disappointingly slow pace of progress on efforts to prevent proliferation, reduce nuclear weapons, and eliminate nuclear risks has many causes. The factor that might be easiest for individuals in the arms control and nonproliferation community to change stems from their own ambivalence about major questions that must be addressed on the road to reducing the number of nuclear weapons in the world to zero. This essay explores how ambivalence about four key issues—strategic stability, alliance relations, institution-building, and nuclear energy—often leads community members to take positions that play well at home and within their like-minded group but raise unintended impediments to achieving their own long-term goals. The author suggests alternative ways to handle these questions to improve the prospects for domestic and international agreement on practical measures that would eliminate, not perpetuate, nuclear risks.


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