Exploding the Deterrence Theory | Sojourners

Exploding the Deterrence Theory

As nuclear technology provokes more production of nuclear arms, the theory of nuclear deterrence will increasingly lose its credence. The misuse of nuclear weapons by an ally or blackmail by a band of terrorists represent two possible fruits of our current policies.

The theory of nuclear deterrence was based on the assumption that a hostile nation could be prevented from attacking any country which is able to inflict unacceptable damage in retaliation.

Let us suppose that U.S. nuclear weapons stored in South Korea were stolen and used against North Korea. Unless the United States were committed to bomb or destroy South Korea in retaliation, there would be no deterrence. The value of deterrence lies in the virtual certainty of retaliation for the misuse of nuclear weapons.

Dr. Fred C. Ilke, the director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency told the Wall Street Journal that “the spread of nuclear reactors will likely see some forty countries in the possession of enough plutonium for a few nuclear weapons” by 1985. Most of the 40, he said, will have enough material for several dozen bombs.

The British physicist, Amory Lovins, asserts that “the way to stop proliferation of bombs is . . .to keep everyone from becoming dependent on nuclear technologies.” This means that the United States itself must avoid such dependence. However, if the U.S. provides the technical and economic support as well as the political justification for world-wide dependence on nuclear energy, it will induce other nations to follow.

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