There was an expectation that the end of the Cold War would herald a new era of peace and stability in which the importance of nuclear weapons was marginalized. Instead, we have been left with a fractious, inter-dependent international community rife with ethnic and religious tension and unbound by super-power competition. The challenges of climate change, demographic shifts and resource competition have further altered the security environment. As if this were not enough, nuclear proliferation is once again at the top of the international agenda. In the last decade the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been challenged from within by Iraq, Iran and Libya while India’s, Pakistan’s and North Korea's nuclear weapon capabilities are threatening the non-proliferation norm from without. The new proliferators are predominantly, but not exclusively, aggressive, unstable and authoritarian regimes, considered by many in the international community to be outside the constraints of international normative behavior. Some have even been labeled `outlaw’, or `rogue’ states. Although inter-continental nuclear war is not presently considered a danger, the increased number of nuclear weapons states combined with the nature of those states and the strategic environment in which they exist makes the possibility of a lesser nuclear exchange potentially much greater. In parallel, the 9/11 atrocities raised fears at the prospect of apocalyptic terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons. Indications that the NPT is failing to rise to the challenge have resulted in policy decisions that have arguably reversed both the disarmament and non-proliferation norms.
It is to delve deeper into the changing global nuclear landscape that this volume is aiming to do. The chapters of this volume are intended to shed light on the diverse themes surrounding this major issue area in international security. They document the increasing complexity of the global nuclear proliferation dynamic and the inability of the international community to come to terms with a rapidly changing strategic milieu.
Part I examines the major thematic issues underlying the contemporary discourse on nuclear proliferation.
Part II gives an overview of the evolving nuclear policies of the five established nuclear powers: the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and the People's Republic of China.
Part III looks at the three de facto nuclear states: India, Pakistan and Israel.
Part IV examines two `problem states' in the proliferation matrix today: Iran and North Korea.
Part V sheds light on an important issue oftentimes ignored during discussions of nuclear proliferation – cases where states have made a deliberate policy choice of either renouncing their nuclear weapons program, or have decided to remain a threshold state. The cases of South Africa, Egypt and Japan will be the focus of this section.
The final section, Part VI, will examine the present state of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, which most observers agree is currently facing a crisis of credibility. The three pillars of this regime – the NPT, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty – will be analyzed.
The chapters in this volume aim to document the increasing complexity of the global nuclear proliferation dynamic and the inability of the international community to come to terms with a rapidly changing strategic milieu. The future, in all likelihood, will be very different from the past, and the chapters in this volume will try to develop a framework that may help gain a better understanding of the forces that will shape the nuclear proliferation debate in the years to come.
This incisive Handook is due to publish in November and is available to pre-order now.