Free Weapons of Mass Destruction Essay Sample

I. Introduction

The core purpose of the current study lies in the investigation of the incentives, which drive many countries to refuse the development of nuclear weapons, despite apparent weight of such weapons as the argument in international relations.

The thesis statement of the ongoing research should be formulated as follows: There are both objective and subjective reasons, which devaluate the significance of nuclear weapons as the weighty argument in the field of international politics.

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Besides, it should be added that the current study is conceived to reach a number of research objectives, such as:

  1. To determine the objective motives that drive different countries towards giving up their nuclear military ambitions.
  2. To clarify disadvantages of nuclear weapons.
  3. To examine the subjective reasons why some well-developed countries refuse to experience benefits from being nuclear-weapon states.

To sum up, it should be clarified that the present study consists of several reciprocal parts. The first part of the research is introduction. In the introductory section, the initial discussion of the thesis statement, research objectives, and purposes, is conducted. The second part of the study emphasizes the core objective motives, which drive many countries either to give up their nuclear weapons or to refrain from manufacturing such devices.

The three core objective incentives, such as the policy of nonproliferation, economical inappropriateness, and moral standings, are analyzed in the second part of the study.

Furthermore, the third section of the research accentuates on subjective incentives to withdraw from military nuclear ambitions.

The three states, such as South Africa, Germany, and Japan, exemplify discrepancies in national political approaches to the issue of nuclear weapons. All of the analyzed countries are well-developed non-nuclear weapon states. 

II. Objective motives to withhold from investing in nuclear weapons

2.1. The policy of nonproliferation

To start with, it should be ascertained that the policy of nonproliferation is one of the objective reasons, why most of countries decides not to develop nuclear weapon. The aforesaid policy is legally adopted in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

The NPT is the core international legal document, which expresses the will of 190 nations to prevent the enlargement of nuclear weapons and nuclear technology among states. According to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons has decided that the Treaty should continue in force indefinitely.

As far as the legal nature of the Treaty is concerned, it should be designated that the aforesaid international agreement is conceived to attain the objective of nonproliferation via the establishment of a safeguards system under the control and responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In order to disclose the objective obstacle to invest in nuclear weapons, the Treaty’s articles need to be analyzed.

Thus, article I of the Treaty prescribes that every nuclear-weapon State, a Party to the aforesaid document, is obliged not to convey any nuclear material or control over nuclear devices, either directly or indirectly, to any non-nuclear weapon state. In this connection, it should be explicated that it is very difficult to construct a nuclear weapon without the already available nuclear technology, which may be gotten from an allied country.

Therefore, the NPT restricts states from helping other countries in the construction of nuclear weapons. However, the article IV of the NPT allows developing research, production, and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

To sum up, only a negligible number of countries possess the potentialities to produce nuclear weapons without the external assistance. However, such assistance is prohibited.

2.2. Economical inappropriateness

To elaborate further, it should be presupposed that another objective reason to refrain from investing in nuclear weapons is the economical disadvantage of the industry. According to Stephen Schwartz (1998), since 1940, the United States of America has spent approximately $ 5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons and other related programs. The author’s considerations are substantiated with the diligently collected statistical data.

Thus, it is possible to grasp that a wide range of activities, such as the construction of the bomb, deployment of the bomb, targeting and controlling, design of the defenses, dismantlement of the bomb, nuclear waste management and environmental restoration, financing the personnel, maintenance and protection of nuclear secrecy, and congressional oversight, require enormous expenses.

In the researcher’s opinion, the hardest stage in creating nuclear weapons consists in producing the intensively enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium, the fissionable elements which are used in nuclear weapons. The fact is that the required isotopes of uranium and plutonium are very rare in the natural occurrence. Therefore, the state is forced to spend large sums of money in order to enrich the elements in nuclear reactors.

In like manner, it should be elucidated that the dismantlement of the bomb is another expensive process. According to Schwartz, it is impossible to estimate with precision the expenses on storage, preparation for the disposal, and the actual final disposal of radioactive materials from dismantled warheads. This notwithstanding, the current presumptions evince that the cost of dismantlement, storage, and disposal of surplus plutonium is approximately $25 billion.

In view of the above, it should be summarized that some well-to-do states are more prone to spend their funds on more urgent social necessities, rather than to support the investment in nuclear weapons. In summary, it is possible to claim that the economical rationale with regard to nuclear weapons is crucial, especially in the era of global financial crisis.

2.3. Morality and prudence

To continue, it should be admitted that the issue of morality is correlative with the production and use of nuclear weapons. Some well-developed countries refuse to manufacture nuclear weapons because of their moral standings. Thus, Steven P. Lee is disposed to think that nuclear weapons create an apparent confrontation between morality and prudence, and within morality itself.

The moral question of nuclear weapons is juxtaposed with the concept of just war. Furthermore, the researcher reckons that the moral reasoning seeks to recognize both consequentialist and deontological approaches to actuating the moral status of actions.

In view of the above, it should be ascertained that the consequentialist moral approach to nuclear weapons evaluates an action solely in the framework of the total value or disvalue of the consequences, which are imposed by the action on all human beings and living sentients. It is frequently disputed that all state actions need to be correlative with particular national as well as international interests and intentions. Thus, the question of consequences is one of the undeniable arguments, which needs to be taken into account while construing the matters of interests and intentions.

In contrast to the consequentialist approach, the deontological way of discourse categorizes actions in terms of their types, in spite of their ubiquitous consequences, and evaluates the relevant action particularly on the basis of whether such deed is demanded, restricted, or allowed.

Taking into consideration the aforementioned approaches, it is possible to infer that the general moral status of the action will be comprehended through the weight of both consequentialst and deontological requirements.

The implications of morality are very crucial in justifying whether the war is fair or unfair. In this connection, the development of nuclear weapons evinces that, in case of a military conflict, the use of such weapons will inevitable inflict severe hardship and suffering of a large number of people and other living creatures. Therefore, both the consequentialist and deontological approaches prescribe that such kind of war will always be regarded as unjust.

Moreover, it should be agreed with the author’s statement that, ‘choices about nuclear weapons policy put a great deal at stake in terms of consequences, because these policy choices affect the likelihood of nuclear war and superpower aggression’. In this connection, it should be noted that Ukraine, as once the country with the third biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world, has decided to give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons.

In Ukraine’s case, one of the reasons to refrain from the acquisition of nuclear weapons lies in the state’s official course towards maintaining peaceful and mutually beneficial cooperation with other members of international community, which is prescribed in article 18 of its Constitution, in particular. In view of the above, it should be conceded that Ukraine gives preference to prudent existence as a non-nuclear weapon state, despite its huge potential and capabilities in the domain of nuclear science.    

III. Subjective incentives to forego the development of nuclear weapons

3.1. South Africa

After the general motives to withhold from investing in nuclear weapons have been analyzed, individual incentives of states to give up their nuclear ambitions need to be clarified.

According to Kevin Kiernan, South Africa’s case manifests itself as one of the most specific examples of nuclear nonproliferation. The fact is that South Africa has stealthily developed a nuclear program over twenty years. However, the state secretly destroyed its arsenal of nuclear weapons in 1991. In the researcher’s opinion, the exploration of the South African nuclear projects must be conducted in conjunction with the examination of the menacing environment, which has been encountered by South Africa at the time of its determination to pursue a nuclear strategy.

Thus, Kiernan analyzes South Africa’s case in the framework of two hypotheses. The first hypothesis implies that nuclear decisions are frequently grounded on a cost/benefit evaluation of security needs. Taking into consideration the Angolan war, it is possible to presuppose that South Africa has developed its nuclear weapons in order to protect itself from the Soviet and Cuban military forces in Angola.

Additionally, it follows that South Africa has disarmed the nuclear weaponry after the collapse of the Soviet Union. However, Kiernan is prone to reject the aforesaid hypothesis. The author claims that South Africa has never received sufficient security advantages, which might be responsible for the justification of the costs of its nuclear weapons.

Therefore, the researcher is inclined to hold that the tradeoff between bombers and nuclear weapons has been more agreeable, notwithstanding that the weapons have never augmented the country’s physical security, neither have they served as a deterrent.

3.2. Germany

To proceed further, it might be appropriate to note that Germany is another country, which supports the abolition of nuclear weapons, despite its tremendous potential to invest in the manufacturing of nuclear military devices. According to Wolfgang Kerler, most of Germans advocates abolition, notwithstanding the country’s policy not to abandon nuclear sharing. Otfried Nassauer, director of the Berlin Information Centre for Transatlantic Security (BITS), reckons that about 10 to 20 U.S. nuclear bombs are still maintained in Germany, out of many thousands deployed during the Cold War.

The Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is led by Chancellor Angela Merkel, is urging the withdrawal of the remaining bombs in the framework of the ubiquitous nuclear abolition. Additionally, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Foreign Minister of Germany, has asserted that the new era of our civilization expects that nuclear weapons will vanish from the military arsenals.

This notwithstanding, a rather contradictory governmental policy is implemented in Germany: on the one hand, the federal government is prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons by its soldiers because such actions are considered to violate international law, and on the other hand, this government continues training soldiers ‘how to use U.S. atomic bombs with German fighter jets’.

The aforesaid analysis clarifies that one of Germany’s incentive to forego the investment in nuclear weapons, despite the country’s actual potentialities in this field, lies in the declared policy to follow the prescriptions of international law. As the foregoing discussion must suggest, international law adopts and augments the international policy of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons.   

3.3. Japan

Japan supplements the range of countries, which may easily be called paranuclear states, or, in other wards, the states, which possess undisputed potentialities to manufacture nuclear weapons. However, Japan has decided not to produce nuclear military devices. According to Chanlett-Avery and Nikitin, Japan is a country with a high level of energy consumption. Also, since the 1960s, Japan has relied on nuclear power for a substantial part of its energy. According to the researchers, nuclear energy is currently used in the production of 35% of the country’s electricity.

Taking into consideration the well-developed infrastructure of nuclear power plants and nuclear enrichment plants, it should be ascertained that Japan has officially refused to manufacture nuclear weapons by supporting the world policy of nonproliferation. Besides, article 9 of the Japanese Constitution prescribes that the Japanese people forever renounce war and refuse to maintain armed forces as well as military potential. Also, Japan has declared a parliamentary resolution, which is called Three Non-Nuclear Principles.

Taking into account the aforementioned documents, it might be appropriate to note that Japan foregoes to invest in nuclear weapons because of its political direction towards the augmentation and promotion of international peace. Hence, the maintenance of nuclear weapons, from Japan’s prospective, contradicts to its peaceful intentions.

Also, Japan presumably enjoys the advantages of a “nuclear ready” status because of its capacity to create the arsenal of nuclear weapons within a year. According to Park, it seems unreasonable for Japan to manufacture nuclear arms, since it is not at the threshold of a conflict. In case of any danger, Japan can rely on the support from the United States beyond controversy.

IV. Conclusions

After everything has been given due consideration, it should be generalized that the research has proved the existence of both objective and subjective motives, which devaluate the relevance of nuclear weapons as the weighty argument in the domain of international politics. Also, it should be asserted that the research purposes have been attained completely: a) - the objective incentives to give up nuclear military ambitions have been determined; b) - the disadvantages of nuclear weapons have been elucidated; c) - the subjective motives of some countries to refrain from experiencing benefits of nuclear-weapon status have been investigated.


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