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Making Sense of the Nonproliferation-Disarmament Divide

 Making Sense of the Nonproliferation-Disarmament Divide

When President Harry S. Truman ordered the first use of an atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945, he effectively ended a world war but set in motion new dilemmas for statecraft and warfare. Not least was the risk of catastrophic nuclear wars once others acquired these weapons, as the Soviets did four years later. Fast forward to 2020, and it may surprise readers that big, foundational questions present at the dawn of the nuclear era remain today — from the military utility of nuclear weapons, to requirements for deterrence, to the role of nuclear negotiations. Another lurking question concerns the relationship of nonproliferation to nuclear disarmament: Does progress on one determine progress on the other, is one of higher importance than the other, and what strategies are best suited to reduce nuclear dangers, particularly in today’s period of geopolitical transition?

Disagreements on the relationship of disarmament to nonproliferation center on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a successful, Cold War-era agreement that establishes a bargain: States not having nuclear weapons agree to forego them and the acknowledged “haves” (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China) agree to work in the direction of disarmament. Whether the “haves” are meeting their end of the bargain generates intense disagreements that roil the treaty’s political process. Some see slow progress on disarmament as an indication of bad faith whereas others regard it as an unavoidable product of major-power relations. Some anticipate that entry into force of a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and other such agreements will bear on the decision of states to pursue nuclear weapons or tighten nonproliferation rules, whereas others are less sure. Still others worry about backsliding on nonproliferation with the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, whereas others are less concerned.

This article argues that although the evidence linking disarmament steps (that is, nuclear arms control) to specific nonproliferation outcomes is thin, decoupling the two as a matter of policy or strategy would be counterproductive. Because neither nuclear deterrence alone nor nuclear disarmament alone can guarantee international stability, the wider effort to address nuclear-weapon risks requires updated strategies that hold each strand in balance. How well the United States and others rise to this challenge may be a defining strategic issue of the next decade.

Assessing the Nonproliferation-Disarmament Nexus

The historical record is inconclusive as to whether disarmament contributes to nonproliferation. On one side of the ledger, Iran and North Korea, the two most significant proliferation cases of the last two decades, accelerated their covert nuclear and missile programs at a time when the United States and Russia, the two largest holders of nuclear weapons, were reducing their strategic nuclear stockpiles to levels not seen since the early years of the Cold War. This was also a period in which the A.Q. Khan network was peddling black-market nuclear technology and India and Pakistan conducted a series of nuclear-weapon tests in May 1998, ending any realistic prospect of reversing those programs for the foreseeable future.

On the other side of the ledger, the 1990s produced a series of major updates to the nonproliferation system, including the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, adoption of a new international nuclear safeguards protocol to help detect covert proliferation programs, as was discovered in Iraq in 1991, and the wholesale update of multilateral nuclear export controls to regulate transfers of “dual-use” technology and items. There was more good news. In 1991, South Africa dismantled nuclear weapons it had developed in secret and joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear-weapon state, becoming the only nation in history to build and give up the atomic bomb. In the same year, Brazil and Argentina gave up their presumed nuclear-weapon programs and joined the treaty following the transition of each from military to civilian rule. And by 1995, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan came into the treaty after returning large stocks of nuclear weapons each inherited after the Soviet collapse.

One problem with making judgments about proliferation choices is small sample size. Because only a handful of states have developed nuclear weapons, more is understood about the reasons states have not done so. Nine states are known or thought to have nuclear weapons today, the same number as 30 years ago. (South Africa dropped out of the club, and North Korea opted in.) This is a remarkable, given predictions in the 1960s that as many as 20 to 25 states could soon have nuclear weapons. A range of factors explain this, including widespread support for a nonproliferation norm and a set of rules to uphold it, major-power cooperation on nonproliferation, and the role played by U.S. nuclear security guarantees extended to treaty allies. Certain occasions called for U.S. diplomatic pressure to turn off undeclared nuclear programs (South Korea and Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s) or conform multilateral nuclear trade standards to those in U.S. law.

For the handful of known proliferation cases, security considerations best explain state behavior. India, Pakistan, and Israel fought multiple wars against regional adversaries and likely view nuclear weapons as necessary for national survival. India, in addition, sought nuclear weapons to counterbalance Chinese power and keep Pakistan in check. And North Korea presumably sees nuclear weapons as providing protection from coercion or military attack. While Iran seems to have deferred a decision on whether to pursue nuclear weapons, its record of nonproliferation violations, paired with its regional aspirations, suggests security motivations are very much in play. Dynastic survival (North Korea), political legitimacy (Iran, Pakistan), and national or scientific prestige (India, Iran) also factor in these proliferation cases, but none can be explained in the absence of a security-based rationale or by failures to advance nuclear arms control or other disarmament-related actions.

Just as security drove American and Soviet acquisition of nuclear weapons in the 1940s, security considerations brought them to cooperate on nonproliferation two decades later. China’s entry into the nuclear club in 1964 set off alarms, leading the Johnson administration to abandon plans to transfer nuclear weapons to Europe for NATO defense to talks on a global treaty to prevent their further spread. The benefits of barring German or Japanese nuclear armament were hardly lost on the Soviet leadership, bringing the superpowers together in multilateral talks on a nonproliferation pact just several years removed from the Cuban Missile Crisis. That cooperation survived the ups and downs of the Cold War, but may be harder to hold together now given the discord in U.S.-Russian relations.

Supporters of arms control are generally bullish on linkage, citing the potential to generate political support for nonproliferation reforms or coercive measures to confront proliferators. Arms control skeptics are far more bearish, dismissing these gains as wishful thinking or an unwise constraint on the very type of military power required to deter would-be proliferators. The question of linkage may be conceived of as three problems: first, the problem of differing understandings of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s legal requirements; second, the problem of “isms” and how states understand the world to operate; and third, the problem of hedging both by nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states. Each reveals sources of friction, which if left unattended risk eroding the twin pillars of international nuclear policy: that there be no nuclear wars and that no additional states acquire nuclear weapons.

The legal problem

Where one stands on arms control linkage largely tracks with assumptions made about the legal relationship of nonproliferation and disarmament under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. One perspective treats these obligations as equivalent, meaning parties are not free to insist on total implementation of one (nonproliferation) while deferring work on the other (disarmament). According to this theory, the treaty’s five nuclear-weapon states (the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, and China) are obligated under Article VI of the treaty not only to pursue nuclear disarmament, but to achieve it. A majority of the treaty’s non-possessor states support this conclusion, consistent with an advisory, nonbinding opinion of the International Court of Justice in 1996. Seen from this perspective, the nuclear powers risk hollowing out support for the treaty by failing to advance one of the treaty’s principal requirements.

An alternative legal view holds that the two are indeed unequal obligations, as might be gleaned from the treaty’s title — the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (emphasis added). Disarmament from this perspective is best understood as a supporting element rather than the treaty’s primary purpose. It is an aspirational target lacking anything near the operational precision written into the treaty’s nonproliferation articles, a difference in substance and not explained by sloppy drafting. Other than calling for negotiations to end the arms race, the treaty provides no direction on how, when, with what verification or enforcement, and under what political conditions nuclear disarmament is to be achieved.

Adding to the legal turbulence, Article VI marks out two pathways to nuclear disarmament — a stand-alone agreement or as part of a treaty on general and complete disarmament. Neither is remotely attainable at this point in history (the latter even less so), but partial steps along the way are — evidenced by the massive cuts to nuclear forces have been achieved over the last 20-plus years. Those prioritizing disarmament welcome such steps, but generally regard them skeptically as partial, reversible, or lacking in urgency or imagination.

Unfortunately, such legal quarrels reveal little about the effect of disarmament on nonproliferation. It is the case that upswings or downturns in nuclear arms control tend to track with successful or failed Non-Proliferation Treaty review conferences (success defined as the parties reaching consensus on a final document). However, there is no direct evidence of good or bad times for arms control impacting the proliferation behavior of states or generating political support to repair cracks in the treaty’s foundation exposed by North Korea, Iran, and their illicit supply networks.

Regrettably, it is easier to trace a negative than a positive correlation of arms control to nonproliferation. This involves non-nuclear-weapon states withholding support for nonproliferation actions as leverage to secure commitments on disarmament. Because of this, sensible proposals to strengthen nonproliferation — for example, establishing the Additional Protocol as a legal standard for verification or nuclear trade, discouraging abuse of the treaty’s withdrawal clause, or restricting the further spread of the most sensitive civilian nuclear technologies — remain on the shelf after years of futile debate. Opposition takes the form of a grievance: that non-nuclear-weapon states should not be asked to take on added nonproliferation obligations until they see a deeper commitment to disarmament. It arises from a perception of uneven implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s nonproliferation and disarmament aims, but also differences in how nations understand the world to work and the place of nuclear weapons in it.

The problem of “isms”

Is nuclear deterrence essential to prevent major-power conflict, or does it pose unacceptable risks to the rest of the world? Is slow progress on disarmament a reflection of the security environment or a failure of political will and imagination? Has proliferation been held in check because of the force of a rules-based nonproliferation system or for other reasons? Three dominant schools of international relations theory shed some light on why answers given to these questions are so vastly different. They include constructivism’s reliance on broad acceptance of ethical and legal standards to shape a peaceful and just world order; realism, in which states are understood to compete for power and political survival; and liberalism, with its emphasis on principles and collective action over the raw exercise of power.

A constructivist approach is the intellectual home for the Treaty on the Prohibition on Nuclear Weapons (or “ban treaty”), which was completed in 2017 at the initiative of Mexico, Austria, and a spirited civil-society campaign to abolish nuclear weapons. Of the 80 or so ban treaty signatories, none possesses nuclear weapons or sits under the U.S. nuclear umbrella (by virtue of a treaty alliance). This seems unlikely to change for the foreseeable future, meaning that the ban treaty will not result in nuclear reductions or alter nuclear deterrence policies. Drawing on an earlier campaign to outlaw anti-personnel landmines, it seems the aim is to delegitimize nuclear weapons on humanitarian and legal grounds, emphasizing their indiscriminate, destructive power and the incompatibility of nuclear use with the law of armed conflict. Supporters likely anticipate that the number of ban treaty signatories will grow over time, powered by a new ethic and social value that rejects nuclear weapons as a basis for human or military security.

The realist critique is generally skeptical of arms control on the grounds that it inhibits nuclear deterrence and freedom of action and may undermine the power relationships that make war less likely. In the United States, arms control realists shed no tears over the collapse of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 or the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019. They warn against the dangers of arms control becoming an end in itself, producing “unsatisfactory treaties that have channeled strategic arms competition in ways that have proven inimical to U.S. security interests.” The nonproliferation benefits of arms control are also largely discounted. As Senator Jon Kyl said in 2010 during floor debate on New START, American and Russian nuclear cuts have “had no discernible effect on nuclear proliferation. We have had more proliferation since, after the Cold War, we began to reduce these weapons.”

The Non-Proliferation Treaty blends both realism and the liberal international order. By not setting a deadline for nuclear abolition, the treaty acknowledges that nuclear deterrence may be around for some time, a nod to realism’s emphasis on military strength to preserve peaceful relations among states. And yet, by lowering the salience of nuclear weapons, the Non-Proliferation Treaty equally embraces liberalism’s appeal to international institutions, rules, and collective action for security. In a sense, the treaty is a reconciliation of multiple traditions, drawing in states that rely on nuclear weapons for security and value the treaty’s role in blocking the emergence of nuclear-armed challengers, but also those that prioritize disarmament and value the treaty’s energy and technology benefits and the predictability of a rules-based system.

Whether the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s reconciliations are sustainable under the shadow of major-power competition and an international order stretched to the breaking point is an increasingly urgent problem. It is one that risks unsettling barriers to proliferation that the world relies on to keep the number of nuclear-armed states down and interest in arms control up. Amid such uncertainty, the temptations of states to hedge their nuclear bets is almost certain to rise. This comes to the third problem — hedging.

The problem of hedging

Hedging is hardly a new phenomenon in the nuclear sphere. It has been a part of the nuclear order going back decades and is woven into the fabric of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. For nuclear possessors, hedging can be seen in nuclear postures, deployments, and modernization campaigns and support or rejection of arms control proposals. For non-nuclear-weapon states, it is associated with pursuit of the full nuclear fuel cycle — enrichment of uranium and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. Enrichment and reprocessing can be used for production of fissile material for nuclear energy or nuclear bombs. Both types of hedging impact the nonproliferation-disarmament divide: The prospect of more proliferation drives nuclear deterrence requirements and tends to dampen enthusiasm for arms control, just as hedging by nuclear-armed states may stimulate proliferation or hasten a loss of faith in the Non-Proliferation Treaty system.

U.S. hedging on nuclear-weapon policy has a long pedigree. It colored Cold War debates on nuclear deterrence strategy and it helps explain why more far-reaching options to reduce nuclear weapons or delivery platforms were set aside in the Clinton, Bush, and Obama nuclear posture reviews. Those reviews were conducted in a relatively benign security environment, with Russia reeling after the Soviet collapse and China still focused inward on economic growth. Things look quite different today after a decade of Russian and Chinese nuclear and missile buildups, aggressive behavior by both in their regions, and North Korea’s emergence as a blustering, nuclear-capable state. As one leading expert explains, each may believe it can prevail against the United States in a local military conflict by escalating to the nuclear level without inviting retaliation. The 2018 U.S. nuclear posture review sought to close this gap in deterrence through deployment of precise, lower-yield nuclear weapons that are proportionate to the threat of use by adversaries.

It is too soon to know whether a recharged emphasis on nuclear deterrence will help or harm efforts to reduce nuclear risks. On one hand, U.S. allies in Europe and Asia generally welcome steps to strengthen extended nuclear deterrence. They worry about Russia, China, or North Korea and seek options for defense other than developing their own nuclear weapons. It is also possible that upgrading nuclear deterrence would allow the United States and its allies to negotiate new strategic agreements with Russia or China from a position of strength. On the other hand, pursuit of new nuclear capabilities arguably risks triggering the very action-reaction dynamic that drove the Cold War nuclear arms race. Russian and Chinese advances, for example, in hypersonic and intermediate-range ballistic missiles elicit calls in the United States for matching capabilities or strategic fixes that may require a decade or more to deploy. Under these conditions, each country is likely to make worst-case assumptions about the forces it will face in the future, leaving arms control to wither on the vine as the nuclear powers adjust to this new military reality.

Hedging by non-nuclear-weapon states centers on enrichment and reprocessing technologies because of their inherently dual-use nature. That so few states have this technology or these programs today is a major nonproliferation win, even if the reasons for that success are not perfectly understood. High financial cost, export controls, national preferences, and the negative political attention that would accompany acquisition of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities all play a role to one degree or another. Possession or interest in such technology is not necessarily a predictor of proliferation, but it naturally raises a red flag. Intent should also be judged. For Japan, a country that possesses both uranium enrichment and plutonium separation plants, the technical barriers to proliferation are low, but, as a treaty ally of the United States and a state in good standing in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the political barriers are high. Of course, that could change if Tokyo had reason to doubt the U.S. commitment to Japan’s defense. For Iran, a country that built uranium enrichment plants in secret before being outed, the technical and political barriers to proliferation are low, and certainly lower today with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action having all but collapsed.

Non-weapon-state hedging affects nonproliferation and disarmament in a number of important ways. At a strategic level, for example, Iran’s acquisition of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities drives the interest of others in the region to match it. It should therefore come as no great surprise that multiple U.S. administrations have failed to condition bilateral nuclear trade agreements with Saudi Arabia and Jordan on a legal commitment to forgo such capabilities. Arab states or Turkey seem unlikely to endorse self-imposed limits on enrichment or reprocessing unless Iran is similarly constrained.

There are also effects at a national level, as seen from South Korea’s interest in matching Japan in enrichment and reprocessing technology. As one of the world’s leading users of nuclear energy, South Korea bristles at American reluctance to grant it prior consent to reprocess spent fuel, as was done for Japan in the early 1980s. A recent renewal of the U.S.-South Korean bilateral nuclear trade agreement essentially papered over differences on the issue of consent, though it is certain to resurface in the coming years. And once South Korea breaks the enrichment and reprocessing barrier, others in Asia could follow, whether for reputational reasons or strategic need as a hedge against China.

Finally, hedging affects Non-Proliferation Treaty politics and debates over treaty rights and responsibilities. The non-aligned bloc of treaty parties — the majority of members — insist that the right under Article IV of the treaty to peaceful nuclear energy extends to a right to possess enrichment and reprocessing technology. Others are not convinced, noting that the treaty makes no reference to such a specific right, only to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in conformity with the treaty’s nonproliferation requirements. This dispute generates diplomatic contortions in the Non-Proliferation Treaty process. Non-nuclear-weapon states protect a fuel cycle “right” that, if exercised, would dramatically complicate the achievement of nuclear disarmament, while those seeking strict limits on the fuel cycle invite the resistance of the states whose support is needed to enact nonproliferation reforms.

A couple of takeaways

Two points are worth highlighting in this smorgasbord of frictions. First is evidence of a shared interest in preventing the further spread or next use of nuclear weapons, notwithstanding differences on how best to secure those goals. This is good news, as it suggests that options to advance both nonproliferation and arms control remain within reach, even in the absence of consensus on the contribution one goal makes to the other. The bad news is that efforts to mobilize international cooperation on the nuclear agenda will become increasingly difficult if the divide on priorities deepens.

Second is a pronounced disagreement over means and ends, in particular whether military or political instruments are best suited to prevent proliferation or the outbreak of a nuclear conflict. The disarmament and deterrence camps make very different assumptions about the requirements for security in a nuclear-armed or nuclear-capable world. One side credits the role of military alliances and extended deterrence with keeping proliferation in check, while the other gives greater weight to international agreements and norms. Sequencing is another point of significant disagreement. One side seeks disarmament to make the world safe, whereas the other believes the world should first be made safe for disarmament.

Strategies for Nuclear Risk Reduction

Where should policy go given such fundamental differences on the nuclear issue? This is a challenge in three dimensions — supporting nonproliferation, securing major-power cooperation, and encouraging broad international support. It is a nuclear-policy version of a Rubik’s cube. Three alternatives are compared: (1) a disarmament approach centered on the ban treaty, (2) an option centered on nuclear deterrence, and (3) a course that integrates deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation.

The ban treaty

The ban treaty is an illustration of a disarmament-first approach to nuclear-weapon issues. It rejects nuclear weapons as the basis for security, seeks eventually to establish that nuclear weapons are illegal as a matter of customary international law, and regards abolition as the surest method to check new cases of proliferation.

An approach centered in the ban treaty is unrealistic and unlikely to generate wins on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation where the Non-Proliferation Treaty has failed. Because no nuclear possessor is ready to join, the treaty will not lead to the elimination of a single nuclear weapon. It will not end the arms race in South Asia; it will not reverse or freeze North Korea’s nuclear program; and it will not create new or better opportunities to deal with nonproliferation violations. Supporters of the ban treaty may believe these problems will disappear once states agree to get rid of their nuclear weapons, but such a leap of faith fails to explain how the security drivers that led states to pursue nuclear weapon in first instance are to be resolved. The implication that disarmament can be divorced from the wider security context is a serious misjudgment.

Nuclear deterrence

The antipode to the ban treaty is an approach centered principally on nuclear deterrence. Under this approach, the United States would do what Russia and China are doing: modernize and increase reliance on nuclear weapons to improve its competitive position. According to this view, the U.S. military superiority is thinning, in turn impacting the credibility of assurances to allies. The United States therefore requires new nuclear-weapon capabilities and operational concepts to help dispel ideas percolating in Moscow and Beijing (and perhaps Pyongyang) that these countries can pull off a fait accompli in a local military conflict in Europe or Asia without risking a U.S. nuclear response. This camp would not welcome more proliferation by U.S. treaty allies, but may accept it as either inevitable or tolerable if it improves the American security position in Europe or Asia.

As noted, allies facing rising nuclear threats may welcome enhancements to U.S. extended deterrence, including the current administration’s decision to deploy low-yield nuclear options. On balance, however, a strategy reliant principally on nuclear deterrence is unsustainable and can do more harm than good. It would risk alienating U.S. treaty allies, such as Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, and Australia, who play a bridging role in the Non-Proliferation Treaty to keep faith with the treaty’s disarmament aims. A deterrence-centered approach would also generate new pressures for arms racing, leaving little space for arms control as a tool to foster stability or cooperation on nuclear-weapon issues. Additionally, such an approach makes overly confident judgments about the prospect of controlling nuclear escalation and fails to explain why a deterrence-centered approach would achieve better results on nonproliferation than current regimes.

Implied in this strategy is a decoupling of nonproliferation from arms control and disarmament. This could prove enormously counterproductive. Relegating arms control to the policy boneyard would serve only to alienate states whose support is needed to sustain the nonproliferation system. It would also reduce the bargaining power of possessor states on the proliferation agenda, supply political oxygen to the ban treaty, and ultimately create a crisis of confidence in the Non-Proliferation Treaty as an instrument for nuclear restraint. It may also reveal a regrettable lack of imagination on the various formal and informal ways that arms control can be applied, even in a tumultuous security environment.

Between disarmament and deterrence — a three-legged stool

A third approach would aim to integrate nuclear deterrence, arms control, and nonproliferation, advancing each simultaneously. This would acknowledge the essential and particular roles that military and political instruments play across the spectrum of nuclear threats. Deterrence is needed to prevent major-power crises from escalating to nuclear war while assuring allies that attempts at nuclear coercion will fail; arms control helps stabilize deterrence by correcting imbalances in nuclear forces and guarding against a race for strategic superiority while also signaling support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty’s disarmament goals; and nonproliferation limits the number of fingers on the nuclear trigger and erects a barrier between peaceful and military use of the atom. No single element is sufficient to meet the aims of the others. Each is a load-bearing leg of a three-legged stool, the sum being greater than its parts.

A comparative advantage of this approach is its appeal to a broad cross-section of states. At a political level, support for nonproliferation unites the major powers with the rest of the international community (with the exception of North Korea and a few outliers). Similarly, support for arms control links the disarmament interests of non-possessors to the war avoidance aims of the nuclear powers. At a military level, this approach would best limit the competitions that give rise to nuclear arms racing and reserves options for new agreements, cooperation, and dialogue on strategic weapons and proliferation dissuasion.

Widening the lens further, the United States and like-minded partners should consider ways in which strategies to prevent nuclear proliferation and avoid a next use of nuclear weapons can be nested in the broader project to repair the global order and manage its increasingly multilateral form. The greatest nuclear security gains of the first nuclear age — arms control agreements and reductions, limited proliferation, and the absence of a major-power war — materialized on account of U.S.-Soviet (then Russian) cooperation. It is still too soon to know what form a second nuclear age will take, but it is almost certain to follow the trajectory of major-power relations. How the United States, China, and Russia compete for power and geopolitical influence will determine the pace of — and possibilities for — nuclear risk reduction. A return to zero-sum competition will naturally crowd out such possibilities. But those possibilities would multiply if the major powers also were to direct their energies toward options that reduce mutual suspicions and strengthen regional security and cooperation in Europe and Asia. As Henry Kissinger said in the early 1980s, “[W]e must have confidence in ourselves [that] we can solve both the arms control problem and … the political problem that is created by the deliberate creation of tensions in the world.” That is no less true in 2020.

Conclusion

For all the ferment on the question of disarmament’s effect on nonproliferation, the fact is that little more is known today than when the Non-Proliferation Treaty entered into force half a century ago. Because of this, many observers run to opposite ends of the line to argue either in favor of a disarmament- or deterrence-centered approach to nuclear-weapon issues. Both fail to persuade, as suggested above. With some modesty, one might conclude there is no a priori pathway to safety in a nuclear-weapon-capable world and that the best option is to rely on a mix of strategies, even when elements are in tension with one another. After all, good, practicable strategies often involve trade-offs among objectives.

Adam Scheinman was the special representative of the president for nuclear nonproliferation, with rank of ambassador from 2014 to 2016, and is currently a professor of practice at the National War College. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense or any other U.S. government agency. This article received support from The Nuclear Boundaries Initiative, a project of George Washington University’s Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. A version of this article will appear in a forthcoming publication by the Institute.

Image: Wikicommons (White House Photo)

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