Abolish Nuclear Weapons

The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 forever changed the face of war, and the half-century of Cold War which followed was dominated, above all, by the threat of nuclear destruction. Both superpowers raced to produce a greater arsenal than their opponents, leading to the point where they had the ability to destroy the world several times over. Added to the direct destructive power of the weapons was the consensus growing among scientists from 1970s onwards that a major war would plunge the world into a ‘nuclear winter’, destroying life even in places that had escaped attack. This led to the concept of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’, a stalemate in which both sides knew that the use of their weapons would lead to their own destruction as well as their enemies
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The global situation has, however, changed substantially since the end of the Cold War. Nuclear Weapons have ceased to dominate world politics; however, the fear of proliferation – the spread of weapons of mass destruction to many more countries – is also on the rise. India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea are all now nuclear powers, and many fear that Iran will soon join them. The proposition in this debate will focus on the total abolition of the world’s nuclear arsenals as a realistic goal to aim for, as President Obama has recently argued. The opposition is more pragmatic, not defending the weapons per se but insisting that they remain a necessary evil. (for all references in arguments, refer to bibliography)

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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Nuclear weapons are morally repugnant.

Over the past fifty years, we have seen a general tendency towards limited warfare and precision weapons, allowing military objectives to be achieved with minimal loss of civilian life. The entire point of nuclear weapons, however, is their massive, indiscriminate destructive power. Their use could kill tens of thousands of civilians directly, and their catastrophic environmental after-effects would harm many more all around the world. These effects could never be morally acceptable, particularly as the basis of one’s national security strategy. They place ‘humanity and most forms of life in jeopardy of annihilation’ (Krieger, 2003).

Robinson

The goal, even the aspirational goal, of eliminating all nuclear weapons is counterproductive. It will not advance substantive progress on non-proliferation; and it risks compromising the value that nuclear weapons continue to contribute, through deterrence, to U.S. security and international stability

Nuclear weapons are a necessary evil; the doctrine of mutually assured destruction prevented the outbreak of nuclear war during the Cold War because in the face of an immoral threat adversaries could place that of an immoral response. Nuclear weapons therefore act as a check upon the very institution of war, restraining aggressors through fear of mutual escalation and certain destruction.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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Nuclear deterrence encourages proliferation

By maintaining a strategic deterrent, the current nuclear powers encourage the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (Krieger, 2003). To be a part of the so-called 'nuclear club' is seen as a matter of great prestige; when India and Pakistan recently declared their nuclear capability, it was seen in both countries as increasing their international status. Also, nations opposed to a nuclear power feel that they need to develop their own capability in order to protect themselves. The declared nuclear powers must therefore take the lead in disarmament, as an example for the rest of the world.

States seek nuclear weapons not primarily in order to use them, but in order to take advantage of the security they offer. If states existed in a world post-disarmament, the incentives to develop nuclear weapons for reasons of security would not have disappeared, in fact they would have increased. As Paul Robinson notes, ‘conventional armaments…will remain the backbone of U.S. defense forces, but the inherent threat to escalate to nuclear use can help to prevent conflicts from starting, prevent their escalation, as well as bring (them) to a swift and certain end (Robinson, 2001)’. Such potential advantages will not be lost on states in a nuclear-free world.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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Risk of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands

While nuclear weapons exist, they can fall into the wrong hands. This is particularly true in Russia, which now had control of all of the nuclear weapons which were distributed around the former Soviet Union. The military is disastrously underfunded; technicians and officers who were used to a high standard of living are now finding themselves without pay, sometimes for years. At the same time, other states and extremist groups are willing to pay substantial sums for their services, and to gain access to nuclear weapons. The danger of a weapon being stolen, or - in consideration of the current political instability in Russia - a nuclear base being taken over by disgruntled members of the military or other extremists, can only be ended by destroying the weapons (Allison, 1997).

While nuclear weapons can be dismantled, the weapons-grade plutonium which forms their warheads cannot simply be destroyed. Instead, they must be stored in special facilities; in Russia, there are some thousand sites were military nuclear material is stored. It is producing this plutonium which is in fact the most difficult stage in building a weapon - by dismantling missiles, you are therefore not destroying their most dangerous part, and hence the risk of theft does not decrease. In fact, it may increase: missile silos in Russia are still the most heavily funded part of the military, whereas in recent years it has become clear that security at storage facilities is often inadequate. Moreover, it is far easier to steal a relatively small quantity of plutonium than an entire Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Ironically, the safest place for plutonium in present-day Russia may be on top of such a missile.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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Both the use and threat of nuclear weapons is illegal

The International Court of Justice in 1996 declared unanimously that any use or threat of nuclear weapons had to be compatible with existing international law relating to armed conflict (International Court of Justice, 1996). Furthermore, a majority of the judges present felt that any such use or threat would ‘generally be contrary’ to those rules of international law and therefore, unanimously, ‘there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control’ (International Court of Justice, 1996).

The very same jury voted unanimously that ‘there is in neither customary nor conventional international law any comprehensive and universal prohibition of the threat or use of nuclear weapons as such’ (International Court of Justice, 1996). Unlike biological and chemical weapons, for whom specific treaties have been developed to regulate and prevent their use, nuclear weapons are recognized for their restraining effect on war. Disarmament would be an unstable step.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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high rate of risk involved in the construction of nuclear arsenals

as the example of Chernobyle revels, there is a high rate of risk involved in construction of nuclear weapons.The people working in such factories are prone to so many diseases and infections. Apart from that ,there are high risk of nuclear accidents which may lead to the death of thousands of innocent people as well as enviroment pollution.

There's a greater risk with nuclear waste management and the destruction of existing nuclear arsenals, there's no clean clear-cut way of deterring from any of the issues listed on the left, when taking nuclear weapons apart.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Yes because... No because...

Nuclear weapons are required for deterrence

The idea of a so-called 'nuclear deterrent' no longer applies. Peace during the Cold War was maintained only by a balance of power - neither superpower had an advantage large enough to be confident of victory. This eventually became the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction: both sides had sufficient weaponry to totally annihilate one another, and potentially the whole world. However, there is no longer a balance of power. With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, some rogue states may develop the ability to strike at enemies who have no nuclear weapons of their own. It is not clear that the major nuclear powers would then strike back at the aggressor. This is further complicated by the fact that most of the emerging nuclear threats would not be from legitimate governments but from dictators and terrorist groups. Would it ever be acceptable to kill thousands of civilians for the actions of extremists?

The use of nuclear weapons would indeed be a great tragedy; but so, to a greater or lesser extent, is any war. The reason for maintaining an effective nuclear arsenal is in fact to prevent war. By making the results of conflict catastrophic, a strategic deterrent discourages conflict. The Cold War was in fact one of the most peaceful times in history, particularly in Europe, largely because of the two superpowers' nuclear deterrents.

Record

During the Cold War, the principal function of nuclear weapons was to deter nuclear attack

During the Gulf War, for example, one of the factors which prevented Iraq from launching missiles tipped with chemical weapon warheads against Israel was the threat the USA would retaliate with a nuclear strike. Although there is no longer as formal a threat of retaliation as there was during the Cold War, the very possibility that the use of nuclear weapons by a rogue state could be met a retaliatory strike is too great a threat to ignore. Moreover, although the citizens of the current nuclear powers may be against the use of force against civilians, their opinions would

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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Abolishment is an unrealistic goal

In 1996, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. The treaty, which calls for an end to all nuclear testing, includes provisions for extensive and independent mechanisms for the monitoring of nuclear activities. Such mechanisms could easily be co-opted for use in implementing, monitoring and verifying any future nuclear disarmament process.

Kimbali

The de facto global nuclear test moratorium and CTBT’s entry into force are crucial barriers to help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional states and are essential to the future viability of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). They are the first two of the 13 practical steps for systematic and progressive nuclear disarmament that were unanimously adopted in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference

The nuclear genie is out of the bottle, and there is no way to go back. Nuclear technology exists, and there is no way to un-invent it (Robinson, 2001). Much as the ideal of global disarmament is fine, the reality is that it is impossible: it takes only one rogue state to maintain a secret nuclear capability to make the abolition of the major powers' deterrents unworkable. Without the threat of a retaliatory strike, this state could attack others at will.

Similarly, the process by which nuclear weapons are produced cannot easily be differentiated from the nuclear power process; without constant oversight it would be possible for any state with nuclear power to regain nuclear capability if they felt threatened.

Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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Would leave nations vulnerable and result in more death.

Nuclear Weapons should not be abolished because not everyone would destroy there's and terrorist groups would make their own. This would leave terrorist groups and countries that don't destroy there missels at an advantage over the ones that do. As much as everyone hates the devastation and horror that took place in Japan at the end of the second world war, it was nesisary and saved lives in the long run. Japan would not have surrendered and it is estimated that the U.S. would lose 200,000 people that number alone is more then the lives lost in japan from the bombs. If the bombs had not dropped more of there people would have died fighting then thos that did in the blast. Also the threat of nuclear war stops wars from even occuring. Countries that would have gone to war now don't becuase they do not want nuclear war to happen.

Debates > Abolish Nuclear Weapons