It is 75 years since the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August 1945, killing around 200,000 people. Since then, humanity has had to coexist with the massive destructive power of nuclear weapons.
Although such weapons have not been used in wars since, they define the international order. Nuclear deterrence and pacts to restrict arms between the United States and Russia have assured decades of precarious peace. Meanwhile, the United Nations’ adoption of the first-ever Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in 2017 buoyed hopes of a world free of these catastrophic arms.
Now the skies are darkening. In 2019, the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the United States and Russia collapsed, ushering in a new arms race for weapons with a range of 500–5,500 kilometres. China’s rise as a superpower is bolstered by a rapidly modernizing arsenal. India and Pakistan are engaging in the worst border scuffles for decades. Iran is re-stoking its nuclear programme, after the United States unraveled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action restricting it. North Korea continues to expand its arsenal.
This environment had made the old rules of strategic stability obsolete even before the COVID-19 pandemic fuelled nationalism and tensions. New ways of thinking about nuclear security and arms control are needed urgently, and for more than two players.
Read the whole story here at Nature: Nuclear weapons: arms-control efforts need China