Nuclear Darkness
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No First Use of Nuclear Weapons

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Were the nuclear weapon states to fully embrace no first use of nuclear weapons then this would constitute a highly significant step towards nuclear disarmament. Whereas the declaration of no first use by the Soviet Union in 1982 saw no alteration to Soviet nuclear weapons deployments, and was given little if any credence by the US and NATO, a multilateral agreement on no first use, if it were to be credible, would entail sweeping and substantial changes to US and Russian nuclear deployments, with each nation needing only to retain a survivable strike-second deterrent. Lesser changes might need to be made to the nuclear forces of the other nuclear weapon states. Moreover, the whole approach taken by the nuclear weapon states to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world would be transformed: the logic becomes that "if no-one has them no-one needs them" and attention can turn from debating the utility of nuclear weapons to the more tractable political, administrative and technical issues facing deep cuts in nuclear arsenals and the eventual creation of a nuclear-weapon-free world regime and control system.
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No First Use of Nuclear Weapons
Pugwash Meeting no. 279, London, UK, 15-17 November 2002

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