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Why can’t world leaders agree that a nuclear war should never be fought?

Why can’t world leaders agree that a nuclear war should never be fought? Guardian, Jane Kinninmont, 20 June 21,

Biden and Putin must persuade other nuclear states that such a conflict ‘should never be fought’  eeting last week, the US and Russian presidents issued a joint statement declaring: “a nuclear war should never be fought and could never be won”. This consciously echoes what Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev said in a landmark summit in 1985, when the US and USSR started to step up nuclear arms control, and gradually reduced the world’s fear of nuclear catastrophe.

Many reports of the Biden-Putin summit have not even mentioned this joint statement, because it sounds like simple common sense. Who wants a nuclear war?

Yet getting these words into a joint US-Russia statement has been surprisingly controversial and complicated. Experts who work on arms control, along with former world leaders, have been advocating for years for the “P5” – the five states that are legally recognised as nuclear powers, and who also wield vetoes on the UN security council – to reaffirm what Reagan and Gorbachev agreed during the cold war…..

Governments’ resistance to even saying that a nuclear war is unwinnable and should not be fought illustrates the big gap between nuclear weapons policy and public awareness of that policy. The dominant concepts about nuclear weapons are the notions of deterrence and “mutually assured destruction”.

These concepts suggest that everyone understands a nuclear war would have no winners – and that no leader would actually go as far as to use their nuclear weapons. They represent a balance of threats, a “too bad to use” equivalent of “too big to fail”, a last-resort insurance policy only there to cancel out your enemy’s nuclear option.

But government policy is more complicated than that, and more dangerous. Of the nine states with nuclear weapons, only China and India are willing to say that, in a conflict, they will not be the first country to use them: a policy known as “no first use”……………

June 22, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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