Deterrence in the Twenty-first Century

Deterrence in the twenty-first century - Air University Press


president but initiatives also strongly supported by the United

Kingdom government. In relation to our discussion, the next

steps, a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and a new START,

may not have profound implications, though the process of

reconfiguring force structures for a new strategic agreement

may well be more significant. As we proceed down that road,

there will be harder and harder discussions and decisions to

make, particularly if we move towards a world that is more

multipolar in nuclear terms than at present.

The window optimists, those who think that deterrence is

pretty stable with wide margins in relative capabilities, will

worry less about the exact nuclear balances as we come down

in numbers between the United States and Russia and as other

states are brought in and as people start looking at various

nuclear balances, including the concerns over hidden stockpiles

and the role of missile defences. There are also questions

as to how the strategic arms control process will be affected if

there was further overt proliferation, especially in the case of

Iran. It depends exactly on what form that proliferation might

take and the reaction of Iran’s neighbours to such steps. It is

likely that it would lead to an arms control process which is

even more zigzag than the straight linear path to a global zero

which some suggest is possible.

Even if it is not a linear process, however, the quest for arms

control is as old as nuclear weapons themselves. It will not go

away, however many nuclear weapons states there are, even if

the form that it takes may change quite radically. So we will

need to continue to reflect on how arms control can flexibly

respond to the problems we face. And our concepts of deterrence

will need to continue to be developed in close synergy

with those for arms control and indeed with our war prevention

strategy as a whole.


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