Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

“It won’t get better than this.” – Preventing Nuclear Proliferation

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Those who are interested in issues related to security are probably familiar with its broad concept. It has become popular in the last decades and contains not only the military aspect like before, but for example environmental, human and economical considerations as well. Surprisingly, at today’s GES session on security (titled “Identifying and Preventing Future Security Threats”), although with respect to this concept, a more traditional approach was taken.

The participants focused on three relevant threats: terrorism, cyber attacks and nuclear proliferation. This post discusses nuclear proliferation (more about cyber security here).

At this year’s GES, solutions are needed. At this session the solutions have to foster prevention. How to prevent nuclear proliferation?

According to one speaker, the nuclear non-proliferation efforts of the last decades have been successful. Diplomacy as well as bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation treaties established a control system, and this system is – more or less – manageable. It is impossible, however, to find a final solution to the problem.

Still, Iran and North Korea are defined as a major nuclear risk and have to be dealt with. There is a big difference between the two of them, though: if North Korea had a nuclear weapon, that probably would not cause a domino effect in its region. While in the case of Iran the situation is much more sensitive. Acquiring nuclear weapons is still “only” a tool for becoming powerful and respected.

“Having a country acquiring a nuclear weapon is not the end of the world – using it is the end of the world.”

What can be done to prevent this? A zone free from weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the Middle East would be a solution. It should include a regime of serious sanctions and incentives, with the UN Security Council involved. Because of the extremely sensitive security system, however, this zone is almost impossible to be created.

“Nuclear zero” can only be achieved  with a WMD-free Middle East. According to a pessimistic approach, a nuclear zero is possible only after a serious nuclear weapon accident, when the shock drives the world to demolish all nuclear weapons.

The probability of such an accident is, however, very low, because a long sequence of steps has to be taken before using such a weapon. The key issue is rather storage. What to do with your nuclear weapons: “keep them secure and let the IAEA inspect”.


HRH Prince Turki AlFaisal Alsaud, Founder and Trustee, King Faisal Foundation; Chairman, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies

Sean Cleary, Chairman, Strategic Concepts, South Africa; Executive Vice Chair, Future World Foundation, Switzerland

John Deutch, Institute Professor of Chemistry, MIT; Former Director of Central Intelligence Agency

Carlos Ivan Simonsen Leal, President, FGV Foundation


Quentin Peel, Associate Editor and Chief Correspondent in Germany, Financial Times







Anikó Mészáros Twitter: @dusmii

International Relations expert, in love with Central and Northern Europe, security studies and regional cooperation.