Law and Alternative Security

Rightly or wrongly, nuclear weapons are regarded, in their threat role at least, as effective guardians of national security. Yet nothing is more menacing to the survival of our planet than the credibly communicated threat to use nuclear weapons if and when sufficiently provoked. Ergo, to escape the mind-boggling risks posed by nuclear deterrence, thinking about how to ensure world security without relying upon nuclear weapons, either extensively or at all, is as much a political as it is a moral imperative- in truth, a matter of physical survival. Without an effective alternative to nuclear deterrence, there is no letting go of the nuclear option, and without letting go of the nuclear option the world never can be free of the possibility of radioactive annihilation. Of course, because humankind has the knowledge of how to build nuclear weapons, a knowledge that never can be reversed, it is highly doubtful that the world ever can be completely free of the threat of nuclear war. Still, given an effective alternative to nuclear deterrence, with appropriate political will to match, it is possible that the world can be free of such a threat almost completely – to a degree sufficient, at any rate, to eliminate or reduce drastically the current predisposition to rely upon nuclear weapons as a matter of routine, with few safeguards but the willingness of the nuclear weapons States to perceive the common interest of continued human survival inclusively.