OAKLAND, Calif., June 12, 2007Stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a vital national security concern. In particular, the United States must focus on preventing terrorists and other hostile forces from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In his new Independent Policy Report, Nuclear Nonproliferation in the Post-9/11 World (June 2007 / The Independent Institute), Independent Institute Senior Fellow Charles Peña argues that an overly interventionist foreign policy actually encourages nations to pursue nuclear weapons.
Instead, the United States should seek normalized relations with countries that have nuclear ambitions, while recognizing that some proliferation is probably inevitable.
To minimize the risk of nuclear war, Peña argues that the U.S. should significantly reduce its own nuclear arsenal and encourage foreign powers to follow suit. Even a much smaller U.S. strategic arsenal can effectively deter attacks on American soil. This defensive strategy would eliminate the need to rely on military counter-proliferation as the primary or only response to proliferation.
To protect against terrorists aspiring to arm themselves with nuclear weapons, the United States must strive for stabilized relations with Iran and North Korea. Understanding our common concern over safety, engaging in formal dialogue, and providing positive incentives will improve the prospects for successful nonproliferation efforts.
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