From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : 'No First Use' Policy
Mains level : Nuclear disarmament
China responded to a US report alleging a major build-up in Beijing’s nuclear capabilities. It said, it adheres to its policy of no first use of nuclear weapons.
What is the news?
- The Pentagon released an annual China security report that warned Beijing would likely have 1,500 nuclear.
- China currently has 350 nuclear warheads.
- As of 2022, Russia possesses a total of 5,977 nuclear warheads compared to 5,428 in the US inventory.
What is ‘No First Use’ Doctrine?
- In nuclear ethics and deterrence theory, NFU is a commitment to never use nuclear weapons first under any circumstances, whether as a pre-emptive attack or first strike, or in response to non-nuclear attack of any kind.
Where do nuclear-armed countries stand on No First Use?
- China is the only nuclear-armed country to have an unconditional NFU policy.
- India maintains a policy of NFU with exceptions for a response to chemical or biological attacks.
- France, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the UK and the US maintain policies that permit the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict.
- Israel does not acknowledge the existence of its nuclear arsenal so has no publicly known position.
Why advocate for global NFU commitments now?
- The world after US bombing of Japan has never faced any crises that could escalate to nuclear conflict.
- In addition to the precarious situation on the Korean peninsula, we’re running acceptably high risks of nuclear weapons use between-
- NATO and Russia: Amid ongoing Ukrainian Invasion
- India and Pakistan: Jihadist acquiring nuclear weapons
- US and China: Due to provocations over the South China Sea and Taiwan
- In fact right now the chances that nuclear weapons will be used — intentionally, accidentally, or due to miscalculation — are the highest they’ve been since the worst days of the Cold War.
- Establishing global NFU would immediately make the world safer by resolving uncertainty about what a nuclear-armed country might do in a crisis.
- It removes pressure and incentive for any one country to “go nuclear” first in a crisis and thus create a moral obligation on others.
Consequences of nuclear war
- Any use of a nuclear weapon would invite massive retaliation.
- Not to mention the horrific aftermath of nuclear war.
- A 2014 study shows that so-called “limited” nuclear war in South Asia, in which 100 nuclear weapons are used, would have global consequences.
- Millions of tons of smoke would be sent into the atmosphere, plunging temperatures and damaging the global food supply.
- Two billion people would be at risk of death by starvation.
What lies ahead?
- Global No First Use would be an important step toward making nuclear weapons irrelevant to national security.
- These policies would strip nuclear weapons of value in the eyes of military planners, enable future nuclear disarmament negotiations, and accelerate the dismantling of these weapons.
- It would also serve as a “confidence-building measure” that establishes greater trust among nuclear-armed countries.
- It thus makes it easier to work together to reduce nuclear risks and ultimately eliminate all nuclear weapons.
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