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A humanitarian approach to reshape the global nuclear order

For decades, nuclear weapons have been portrayed as essential to the security of the few states that possess them, and as a very ‘normal’ part of national and international security. These states have engaged in enormous programmes of acquisition and development, have disregarded the humanitarian implications of these weapons, and sought to persuade their publics that national security was dependent on the promise of killing hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of civilians. The term ‘nuclearism’ has been used to describe this era, and several elements of nuclearism are explored here to identify how these states have been able to sustain their possession of nuclear arsenals. By perpetuating a discourse of ‘security’ which avoided international humanitarian law, by limiting decisions on nuclear policy to small groups of elites, by investing vast amounts of resources in their nuclear programs, and by using the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to perpetuate their privileged status as nuclear states, despite their promises to disarm, the great powers have been able to sustain a highly unequal – and dangerous – global nuclear order. This order is now under challenge, as the Humanitarian Initiative explored the implications of nuclear weapons’ use. Its sobering findings led non-nuclear states, supported by civil society actors, to create the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, making these weapons illegal, for all states. The Humanitarian Initiative has posed a challenge to all the elements of nuclearism, and has resulted in a significant rejection of the existing nuclear order. The treaty will not result in quick disarmament, and it faces several hurdles. It is, however, a notable achievement, delegitimizing nuclear weapons, and contributing to the goal of a nuclear-free world.

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Modernization, the persistence of deterrence, and ongoing dangers
Marianne Hanson

If the concept of nuclearism and the elements which shaped it gained hold during the Cold War, how might we characterize the position of the nuclear weapon states, and especially the P5 states, today, in 2022? What explicit doctrines and practices prevail more than thirty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, an event which brought widespread relief that we

in Challenging nuclearism
Open Access (free)
Geir Hønneland
Anne-Kristin Jørgensen

5 Nuclear safety As pointed out in Chapter 1, the threats posed by the nuclear complex of Northwestern Russia have attracted no little attention in recent years, not least from neighbouring Western countries. Thus, the issue of nuclear safety stands forth as the most highly profiled problem area among the three we have chosen to focus on in this study. It also differs from the other two by way of being far more heterogeneous in nature: some of the activities under scrutiny are of a civilian nature; others take place within the military sphere. Partly, the focus

in Implementing international environmental agreements in Russia
Ian Bellany

1 Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy This chapter is about nuclear technology and the technical interconnections between commercial and military nuclear programmes. It is also about the spread of nuclear technology and the use to which it has been put by a number of states, both inside and outside the NPT, to bring them close to or even take them over the nuclear weapons threshold. The scope of nuclear energy Nuclear energy has peaceful applications and non-peaceful applications. The centrepiece of all political efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons

in Curbing the spread of nuclear weapons
Disrupting the nuclear order
Marianne Hanson

The previous chapter addressed how four elements of nuclearism – a specialized strategic discourse, a neglect of humanitarian issues, the limited voices in nuclear politics, and the spending of vast resources on nuclear weapons – have all come to be challenged by the processes of the Humanitarian Initiative and the provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear

in Challenging nuclearism
Changing the discourse; bringing humanitarianism back; empowering new voices and actors; challenging material spending
Marianne Hanson

As noted at the beginning of this book, nuclear weapons have been presented as essential for the security of the states which have them, as acceptable, even ‘normal’ elements of these states’ military arsenals (even though there might be a taboo associated with them), and as essential, prized, and untouchable assets. To recap, the concept of

in Challenging nuclearism
Ian Bellany

4 Understanding nuclear-free zones The purpose of this chapter is to identify the properties of an ideal nuclear-weapon-free zone (nuclear-free zone for short) and then to compare it with actual nuclear-free zones in being or seriously proposed. An ideal nuclear-free zone should first of all be worth having; that means it should do a job of work in solving a multilateral security dilemma, by maintaining a desirable level of international security for the participating states in the face of temptations on the part of individual states within the zone to improve

in Curbing the spread of nuclear weapons
Hardware or software?
Terry Macintyre

Chapter 2 Nuclear sharing in NATO: hardware or software? T he question of nuclear sharing within NATO was one of the more seemingly intractable problems confronting Harold Wilson and the in-coming Labour government. The solution that commanded the field in October 1964, having been advanced some four years ­earlier by the United States as a counter to the increasing number of Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) capable of striking at NATO bases, and as tangible evidence of its commitment to the defence of Western Europe, was for a NATO multilateral

in Anglo-German relations during the Labour governments 1964–70
Ken Young

10 Consenting to nuclear war We can’t successfully take the position that [the British] must give us a blank check. They feel that if a strike takes off from their territory there will be one coming back the other way. Dean Acheson, August 1951 From the outset, basing the USAF atomic strike force in the UK raised questions about the circumstances under which an attack might be launched. Until 1948 it was implicitly assumed in London that some form of joint agreement would be required – implicit because of the Quebec agreement of 1943, which provided that the US

in The American bomb in Britain
The traditional framings that normalized nuclear weapons
Marianne Hanson

For decades, nuclear weapons have been portrayed as essential to the security of the few states that possess them, and as an established and very normal part of national and international security. This has been the case, despite the fact that these weapons have not been used in warfare since 1945, and that there seems to have arisen a ‘taboo

in Challenging nuclearism