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Why do States Want Nuclear Weapons?

Nuclear weapons are regarded as the most powerful, and destructive weapons that are held in the arsenals in the modern states. With the creation of the atomic bomb, many are considering that this could lead to the end of the life on the planet earth. Since the invention of the weapons and its first use in 1945, there were many predictions that one day there would a battle between the countries for the weapons and each of the country would try by hooks and by crooks to come at the top of the list of the countries that are having more nuclear weapons (Kroenig,et,al,2009). This prediction has gone even beyond the limits as nowadays we can see that in the world all the states are trying to become rich when it comes to the nuclear weapons because it has been regarded that the countries that are going to have maximum nuclear weapons would be considered as the strongest of all. Moreover, nuclear weapons have become the sign of strength and the security. It is a general perception that the country having the maximum nuclear weapons is considered to be the most secure of all.

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In the present age, it is not enough to inflict a lot of harm on the enemy; instead you have to convince your enemy that he would be completely wiped out from the map of the world if he tried to have any of the conflicts with you (Rublee,et,al,2009). Nuclear weapons are required by a nation for providing them prestige along with the power and they are going to have the opportunity that their government is having the latest and advanced weapons that have all the capacities for developing even more advanced nuclear weapons that can place them in an exclusive club of most powerful nations of the world.

There are many understood reasons why any country wanted to have nuclear weapons for threatening and ruling other countries, as having nuclear power makes you superior than others because no one can think to mess with you. On the other hand, none of the neighboring countries can attack any state that does not have nuclear weapons (Paul,et,al2000). Also they can be exploited of rights like we can see many examples around us, many under developing countries are always in fear of being attacked by countries with nuclear power if these strong countries feel that they can benefit from the under developed ones.

It is argued that the will to seek nuclear weapons is an action that is negative towards the national stability. It can be clearly seen if we look around, that none of the nations that have developed nuclear warheads have been attacked directly by any other state, proving this point. The nations fear that even a single exchange of nuclear warheads could result in disastrous consequences, with the loss of life and the after effects of the use of nuclear weaponry. But there are also visible evidences that after one country develops nuclear weapons successfully, the neighboring nations seek the nuclear weapons themselves. This can be seen clearly by observing the conflicts rising in the Asian-Pacific region, as after China developed nuclear warheads, India felt threatened due to the ongoing clashes with China (Lin, 1988), and started to develop nuclear weapons themselves. This resulted in Pakistan seeking nuclear weapons due to their clashes with India. All of the threatened countries thought they would be attacked and the balance of power in the region would shift to that particular nation. After the cold war, France and the UK were doubtful of the alliance with NATO, and the assurances from America for the safety of these two countries seemed doubtful to both of the countries. This led to both of them entering the race for the nuclear arms, which is another example of threats getting the better out of a nation (Chalmers & Walker, 2001). The influence that a nation gains after obtaining the nuclear arms can be seen clearly from the example of North Korea (Pollack, 2017). The increase in the nuclear arsenal pushed the neighboring South Korea to sit on the table and hold talks with them, which seemed impossible given the rivalry that the two countries had been going through since their origin.

Any modern state does not feel safe without  nuclear weapons, perceived to be the most powerful form of weapons in the world. It has been a fear of many analysts and theorists after the advent of the nuclear war heads that a war involving these weapons might be the final war which would result in a complete wipeout of the world and the life forms inhibiting this planet. A treaty was put in place by the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), for the purpose of maintaining peace, preventing the use of nuclear war heads and their further spread (Kuppuswamy, 2006). Even after this treaty, many states still mention their nuclear weapons as their main source of power, and threatening other countries after any verbal attack from that particular country. It is considered that the main reason any country seeks nuclear weapons is to get powerful in the eyes of other countries; to gain influence among other countries, informing them that their country is a force not to get involved with. To seek nuclear weapons makes you part of an elite group, which can annihilate any nation that tries to attack or take over. Nuclear weapons dictate a “red line” for the other countries, which makes them aware that attacking that particular country could be disastrous for them(Waltz, 2012). Though the elite group that has these weapons have made it harder for the other countries of this era to seek them, imposing sanctions on countries who try to develop nuclear weapons. A more recent example can be seen as the sanctions imposed on Iran for seeking nuclear weapons (Waltz, 2012).

Another  reason why all the countries are trying their best to have nuclear weapons is that they wanted to make their borders safe and secure and for that they need up to date and latest weapons for giving a loud shout to the ones who are going to have a bad eye on their boundaries with the intention of attack (Lewis,et,al,2018). If all countries have knowledge about each nation and that they are rich when it comes to nuclear weapons, then no one would dare to interfere in its matters.  Most of the countries are spending majority of their national budget on buying new weapons and promoting their defense for creating more and more nuclear weapons because, in this technologically advanced age, every country is trying to secure the top position in the list of the most secure countries. To have more nuclear power has become the standard measurement of safety, the more nuclear power you have, the safer you are, and no one can threaten you.

Realistically speaking, all the developed first world countries are producing more opportunities for making themselves most robust amongst each other so that they could easily exploit the rights of the weak and they could impose whatever benefits them. The increasing threats of military organizations possess a threat to the world too, with fears over the idea of warheads going into the wrong hands. Still the idea of nations losing their warheads to promote peace in the world seems impossible. This is due to the fact that the two powers of the world, US and Russia have been the leaders of developing nuclear arms race (Trenin, 2005), even though they have been a part of the NPT. This brings a bad example to the table and raises fingers on the NPT, which has the aim of reduce the nuclear arsenal of countries throughout the world.

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Personal security has become a secondary purpose of having the latest nuclear weapons, the main aim of almost all the countries behind desiring for the nuclear threat is that they cannot tolerate seeing other nations ruling over them, and they never wanted to be slave of these nations (Friend,et,al,2018). So they are trying to have all the fantastic nuclear power under their control so that they could use it, according to their wish and need. This could not be said about only one nation instead it is better to say that all the countries are becoming more selfish as they all wanted to wear the crown by becoming the most reliable power of the world who would have the ability to rule the world by having all on their side. This selfish attitude of the world in the case of the nuclear weapons is dragging this world towards more conflicts and war as in today’s age on one wanting to be submissive of other. Selfishness has overtaken all, leaving no one and rather than making them more potent in the case of the weapons all the nations are thinking negatively as there are more concerned with the leg pulling of the other governments (Morgenthau, et,al,2018). No country wants to be rich in the case of the weapons for being on the safe side; instead, they all are thinking to overtake the others who are doing well in the same field. So as a whole it could be said that it is just like a myth that all the nations wanted to become rich in the area of nuclear weapons rather they all wanted to rule the world by making others their slave and nuclear weapons would serve as their most significant power.



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  • Friend, J., & Thayer, B. A. (2018). NUCLEAR WARFARE AND DETERRENCE. Routledge Handbook of Defence Studies, 197.
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  • Kuppuswamy, C. (2006). Is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Shaking at its Foundations? Stock Taking After the 2005 NPT Review Conference. Journal of Conflict and Security Law11(1), 141–155.
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  • Paul, T. V. (2000). Power versus prudence: Why nations forgo nuclear weapons (Vol. 2). McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP.
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  • Waltz, K. N. (2012). Why Iran should get the bomb: Nuclear balancing would mean stability. Foreign Affairs, 2–5.


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