The stated reason for invading Iraq was its alleged clandestine pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in defiance of UN resolutions. Even though the allegation was proven false, the international community remains preoccupied with the threat of the proliferation and use of such terrible weapons. This has three interlinked components: non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament.
Some countries, from within the shelter of the NPT, could either develop a full-fledged weapons capability, covertly and illegally, or else acquire all the materials and expertise needed for a weapons programme and withdraw from the treaty when they are ready to proceed with weaponization. There is good reason to fear the erosion and possible collapse of the whole NPT regime over the longer term: treaties already negotiated and signed could unravel through non-ratification or breakouts; the testing of nuclear weapons could be resumed; and there is a lengthening list of proliferation-sensitive countries of concern.
Both the 2004 NPT Review Conference and the UN World Summit in 2005 failed to address the urgent challenge of arms control. The questions discussed in this book include doctrinal issues regarding the use of force in general; the implications of a shift in the utility of nuclear weapons from deterrence to compellence and of a focus on non-proliferation to the neglect of disarmament; the place and role of the United Nations in controlling the spread and use of WMD; the regional dynamics of proliferation concerns in North-east Asia and the Middle East; the policy drivers of the NPT and extra-NPT nuclear powers; and the threats posed by the possible acquisition of nuclear weapons and missiles by non-state actors.
Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu is a Faculty Member at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, Switzerland. Ramesh Thakur is the Senior Vice-Rector of the United Nations University, Japan, and an Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Managing the nuclear threat after Iraq: Is it time to replace the NPT paradigm?
Part I: Strategic doctrine, norms of non-proliferation and disarmament, and world order
Part II: The centrality of the United Nations in non-proliferation and disarmament?
Part III: Proliferation challenges and international responses in North-east Asia
Part IV: Proliferation challenges and international responses in the Middle East
Part V: The permanent five: Part of the problem or devising new solutions?
Part VI: The other nuclear powers and the non-proliferation regime
Part VII: Broadening the scope of the non-proliferation regime
Conclusion: Managing nuclear threats after Iraq