Introduction

Authored by: Harsh V. Pant

Handbook of Nuclear Proliferation

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  February  2012

Print ISBN: 9781857436044
eBook ISBN: 9780203840849
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780203840849-1

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Abstract

These are strange times indeed. The US President, Barack Obama, has tried to lead an effort towards strengthening the nuclear arms control regime. Under his tutelage the United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution that stands on three pillars – a reaffirmation of the goal of nuclear abolition, strengthening the non-proliferation regime centered in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and minimizing the risks associated with the increased use of nuclear energy around the world amidst mounting concerns about global warming. 1 Obama, at least initially, attempted to make nuclear disarmament a centrepiece of American defence policy. In April 2009, he made a speech in Prague laying out a vision of an eventual dismantling of all nuclear weapons. 2 A year later, he announced a new nuclear strategy that narrowed the circumstances under which the USA would use nuclear weapons and travelled to Prague to meet Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, where they signed a treaty that would pare back the number of deployed nuclear warheads in each country to between 1,500 and 1,675, down from the previous ceiling of 2,200. 3 This treaty, known as New START, was given final approval by the US Senate in December 2010 even as the Obama Administration decided to cancel a plan of his predecessor to put defences against intercontinental ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe. 4

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