If the history of the nuclear age teaches one clear lesson, it is that nations seek nuclear weapons chiefly because others have them. Deterrence theory teaches that safety from nuclear arms resides in possessing some yourself. So long as any state has nuclear weapons, others will want them. So long as any such weapons remain, it defies credibility that they will not one day be used, by accident, miscalculation or design. And any such use would be catastrophic. It is sheer luck that the world has escaped such catastrophe until now. The threats and risks associated with the failure to persuade existing nuclear-armed states to disarm, to prevent new states acquiring nuclear weapons, to stop any terrorist actor gaining access to such weapons, and to properly manage a rapid expansion in civil nuclear energy, defy complacency. The need for a serious effort on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament is a global public goods objective that would address one of the world’s most urgent and important policy challenges.
Nuclear weapons are the most inhumane weapons ever conceived, inherently indiscriminate in those they kill and maim, and with an impact deadly for decades. They are the only weapons ever invented that have the capacity to wholly destroy life on this planet. Report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.
Reinforcing the Global Nuclear Order for Peace and Prosperity: The Role of the IAEA to 2020 and Beyond
The international community has both auspicious opportunities and significant challenges to tackle as the world moves into its seventh nuclear decade. Expanded use of nuclear technologies offers immense potential to meet important development needs. Report of the Independent Commission on the Future of the IAEA.