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Carnegie: Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: A Debate

February 1, 2009

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In the past few years, horizontal and vertical proliferation have collided. That is, the need for significant strengthening of the nonproliferation regime in the wake of nuclear developments in North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and Pakistan is now absolutely clear. So too, however, is growing unwillingness among non-nuclear-weapon states to even consider additional measures in what they see as the absence of serious progress by the nuclear-armed states toward disarmament.

The pathbreaking paper Abolishing Nuclear Weapons by George Perkovich and James Acton was first published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies as an Adelphi Paper in September 2008. One of the paper's major aims was to prompt serious international analysis, discussion, and debate, recognizing divergent views within and between nuclear-armed states and those that do not possess these weapons. The absence of such engagement in official forums such as Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences and the Conference on Disarmament makes it vital for nongovernmental actors to take the lead in hopes that governments will see the value of such dialogue and follow.

The present volume takes the next step. To advance the sort of analysis and dialogue Perkovich and Acton call for, they have invited a distinguished group of experts-current and former officials, respected defense analysts-from thirteen countries, nuclear and non-nuclear, to critique the Adelphi Paper. Their diverse views explore pathways around obstacles to nuclear disarmament and sharpen questions requiring further official and nongovernmental deliberation. Perkovich and Acton are grateful to the contributors for the thoroughly constructive character of their critiques.

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