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3rd January 2024 (10 Topics)

Shifting Tides: Challenges to the Global Nuclear Order

Context

The global nuclear order (GNO), established during the Cold War, is facing unprecedented challenges in the current geopolitical landscape.

Background

  • The GNO emerged in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, with the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. taking the lead in creating mechanisms to prevent nuclear escalation.
  • This led to the establishment of the hotline and subsequent arms control negotiations.
  • The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 and the formation of the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 1975 further solidified the order.
  • The evolution of nuclear dynamics, changing power structures, and emerging threats have put the stability of the GNO into question.

Need for Global Nuclear Order:

  • The primary goals of the GNO were to maintain a taboo against nuclear weapons use and control their proliferation.
  • Over the years, it has seen success in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to a limited number of countries.

Challenges and Changing Geopolitics:

  1. Bipolarity to Multipolarity: The bipolar dynamics of the Cold War era no longer define the global nuclear landscape. The rise of China as a major player, challenging the U.S., has introduced a new dimension to nuclear relations.
  1. Strain on U.S.-Russia Treaties: The withdrawal of the U.S. from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, coupled with the uncertainty around the New START agreement, has strained the U.S.-Russia nuclear relationship.
  2. Emergence of Nuclear Peer Rivals: The U.S. now faces nuclear peer rivals in Russia and China, disrupting traditional notions of strategic stability. The collapse of strategic stability talks in the wake of the Ukraine war adds to the uncertainty.
  3. Technological Shifts: The 75-year-old nuclear technology is undergoing shifts, with concerns raised over the potential use of more usable weapons. The AUKUS deal with Australia, a non-nuclear state, has raised questions within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty community.

Nuclear Dynamics in Asia:

  1. South Korea and Japan's Nuclear Ambitions: South Korea's consideration of a nuclear weapons program and Japan's shift in sentiment towards nuclear deterrence indicate the changing landscape in East Asia.
  2. Uncertainty in U.S. Extended Deterrence: U.S. allies in East Asia, including Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, are reevaluating their reliance on U.S. extended deterrence. Domestic concerns and geopolitical shifts are pushing them to reconsider their nuclear capabilities.

The global nuclear order, once a stabilizing force, is now navigating through uncharted waters. The evolving geopolitical landscape, technological advancements, and shifting alliances require a reassessment of nuclear policies and international cooperation. As the world grapples with emerging threats, the future of the GNO hangs in the balance.

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