Modernization of nuclear weapons: Aspiring to “indefinite retention”?

By Ray Acheson, September 1, 2012

Currently, all nations with nuclear weapons are modernizing their arsenals, delivery systems, and related infrastructure. These programs have serious implications for nuclear disarmament. By investing in the extension, upgrading, and reinforcement of their arsenals and capacities, the author writes, these governments are investing in the future of nuclear weapons, not in the future of disarmament. Other non-nuclear states have expressed concern with these programs and are using international venues, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conferences, to call on the nuclear-armed states to cease these programs, which undermine the objectives of the treaty in terms of both non-proliferation and disarmament. Ending upgrades and investment in nuclear weapons would help establish the necessary conditions for disarmament. The author writes that non-nuclear weapon states should further advance the conditions for disarmament by negotiating a treaty banning nuclear weapons, highlighting that the world’s governments, themselves, do not need to possess nuclear weapons in order to prohibit them.

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