Viability of Non-Nuclear Deterrence Strategies

Good Essays
Near the end of World War II, the United States (U.S.) atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki demonstrated that nuclear weapons can technically be used as a strategic imperative [1]. Nuclear capability, thereafter, was much sought after by states as the basis for deterrence and thus fuelled the nuclear arms race during the Cold War, especially between the U.S. and the Soviet Union [2]. However, several literatures [3] [4] [5] have debated that nuclear deterrence and utilisation of nuclear weapons are morally and ethically unacceptable. Several others [6] [7] argued that nuclear capability is not the be-all and end-all of deterrence. In addition, the existence of Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) measures, theoretically, makes it difficult for non-nuclear states to acquire the capabilities to produce nuclear weapons and to do so without being detected [8]. Hence, this essay seeks to examine the viability of non-nuclear deterrence strategies, particularly to address the question – Who are the potential adversaries of non-nuclear states and what are the deterrence strategies that are viable?
Setting the Context
The potential adversaries that non-nuclear states may face will be generalised into three types for the purpose of this discussion. These are nuclear state actors, non-nuclear state actors, and non-state actors (NSAs). ‘Nuclear state actors’ includes the five nuclear-weapon states under the NPT, as well as the three non-NPT and one undeclared nuclear powers [9].
Get Access