Friday, September 01, 2006

nuclear fears

For what it's worth, I don't fear state actors aka nations and their leaders (at least for most states) getting a nuclear weapon. I fear the non-state actors getting them.

An amusing point to that is that I cannot see a state actor 'giving' these weapons to non-state actors. Not least is the danger that they'd threaten the giver at a later time with use.

See, as long as the weapons are in the hands of nations they are functionally tied to a MAD doctrine. Mutually Assured Destruction. Actually, for most of the smaller nations it's worse. Use of the weapon against most parties becomes Nuclear Suicide.

Seriously. Let's assume that Iran - to take a particular example - has five - or even ten - 1MT nuclear weapons available. It can pretty much cripple Israel, or it can hurt the US. What happens in return?

Why yes. The World's Largest Nightlight gets created just south of the Caspian Sea. Forces from around the world go in to ensure that the idiots willing to use nuclear weapons as a first strike never see the light of day, and the culture that allowed them to come to power becomes a footnote in history books.

And that is probably reason number one why North Korea hasn't used its weapons. I'm sure Kim il Jung has been tempted, but the end of the good life is a serious threat - and for Kim it's still a good life regardless of what it's like for everyone else.

Now, non-state actors aren't tied to location. Far too often they're not living the good life. The belief that they will escape the consequences has some basis for many of them. So yes, the thought of such agencies - be they corporations or political groups or terrorist groups or anything else - getting nuclear weapons can give me cold sweats. The only saving grace is that I don't see them getting it from a willing state. The surrender of THE weapon to someone out of authority requires extraordinary trust, so even those otherwise willing would be hesitant. Gas? maybe. Nukes and bio? ummm, not so much.


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