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What nuclear strategies should we use to confront state and non-state actors seeking nuclear weapons for international prestige?

The main deterrents for nuclear proliferation between recognized nation-states are economic and political negotiations. There are few ways to deter rogue or non-state actors in the absence of international cooperation in sharing intelligence on these groups and confronting them militarily with an international force.

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International recognition or prestige is a somewhat simplistic way to view a nation's desire to acquire nuclear capabilitiesspecifically, strategic weapons. Non-state actors see nuclear weapons as the path to ideological domination and radical change. Countries desiring nuclear capabilities view joining the nuclear club as a way to have more significant input in the world and regional affairs. Though this group adheres to the general policy of keeping nuclear capabilities out of the hands of nefarious groups, there are nuclear powers who have no hesitation about providing radical groups with technologies that hasten the development of nuclear capabilities.

These same countries are more than likely sharing information. For example, American, British, and much of the European intelligence community believe Iran and North Korea are sharing advanced technologies to weaponize their respective countries and have done the same in the past. Others point to the passive resistance by China to North Korea's open attempt to create a nuclear peninsula. Analysts believe Pakistan is a nation where nuclear technology may fall into the hands of radical groups. Russia, when it was the former Soviet Union, maintained nuclear arsenals in client states all across their old spheres of influence. Analysts believe since the fall of the Soviet Union, there has been suspicion that some of the Soviet Union nuclear arsenal remains unaccounted for.

In the past, the notion of mutually assured destruction was enough to maintain a balance of power between nuclear nations. The question is, what can be done today to prevent further proliferation? So long as the nuclear powers are united against the further spread, then economic and strategic negotiations seem to have mitigated some of the desire of other nations to acquire nuclear weapons. It is in the best interest of nuclear countries to maintain their dominance while denying other countries the prospect of acquiring nuclear capabilities. Unfortunately, economic interests and political interests sometimes cancel each other out. Economic parity and political influence shift dramatically as nations form beneficial alliances critical to their national interests. Governments are interested in forming beneficial partnerships whereas the rogue players have no interest in economics. Trade negotiations are of little value to an ideological enemy who is more interested in advancing their ideology than creating trade agreements.

Another strategy that seem to address the problem is countries with larger militaries and nuclear capabilities guaranteeing the sovereignty of non-nuclear states. There is no need to advance a homegrown program if your country is under the protection of a nuclear nation (think NATO countries).

A proposed idea is for a nuclear ban similar to the prohibition of chemical weapons and the destruction of all nuclear weapons, but this may not work. We see how well the chemical weapon ban has worked for Syria, which is to say, not well at all. Others have also used chemical weapons on their country's population. Not to mention the simple fact that nations are not always transparentor often flat-out lieabout their nuclear capabilities (research Iran as a good example). It seems the economical route for most countries has slowed the proliferation of weapons and put into place some minimal verification, for example, the agreement with Iran.

As to rogue states or groups, the only deterrent is good intelligence about what they are up to. These groups have to be confronted by an international force, and either they yield their ambitions to conform with international standards and law or risk annihilation.

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