The immense potential of nuclear power is both seductive and scary
. In the early years of the nuclear age, the scary aspect led the scientific community to raise the banner of nuclear disarmament, but the seductive component proved too strong for political leaders to ignore.
With the age of bipolarity dominating the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union cooperated to create a new narrative in which what was scary was the threat of proliferation
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. By the end of the 1960s, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty had been concluded, and the 1970s saw the birth of nonproliferation-related export control regimes.
The proliferation threat became more pronounced with the breakup of the Soviet Union. And after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the threat narrative underwent another change. Credible intelligence revealed that global terrorist networks were actively seeking weapons of mass destruction, particularly fissile material and radioactive sources, leading to a renewed interest in nuclear security. This theme received a push from U.S
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. President Barack Obama’s 2009 Prague speech that, in addition to calling for nuclear disarmament (an appeal that has gone largely unheeded), urged the securing of all vulnerable nuclear material in four years.
The next year, the United States hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit. Follow-on summits were held in 2012 and 2014 in Seoul and The Hague, respectively, and the cycle will conclude with another summit in Washington from March 31 to April 1, 2016.
The Washington summit is likely the last in what has been a productive series
. For India and the rest of the participants, the primary challenge now will be how to sustain the momentum generated by these summits thus far…
You can find the full article on the website of Carnegie India.
Rakesh Sood is a former diplomat who served as India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Nepal, and France
. He was also India’s permanent representative and ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and the special envoy of the prime minister on disarmament and nonproliferation until 2014.