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Can nuclear weapons offer an "insurance" policy?

A European Nuclear Weapon Alliance?

To the Editor:

Those in Europe arguing in favor of a continental nuclear arsenal (“Fearing U.S. Withdrawal, Europe Considers Its Own Nuclear Deterrent,” The Interpreter, March 7) are heavy on politics, but glaringly light on law and humanity.

Some Western nations like to squarely blame North Korea’s 2003 withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty or Iran’s program to enrich nuclear fuel for undermining the global nonproliferation regime. Without condoning the actions of North Korea or Iran, it is still plain to see that the creation of a European nuclear weapon alliance would violate both the spirit and the letter of the Nonproliferation Treaty.

Any use of even “smaller, shorter-range tactical weapons” would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

The majority of the world’s nations will gather at the United Nations in New York at the end of March to begin negotiating a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons. Such a treaty is urgently needed and long overdue.

Those advocating European nuclear weapons say they are seeking an “insurance policy.” Insurance policies pay out only when something goes wrong, which, in the realm of nuclear weapons, means it’s too late. The only way to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used is to abolish them. The world will begin an important step toward that goal this month.


The writer is director of programs for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.


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