The most common reason given for why we have nuclear weapons is that we ‘need’ them for our defense. We are even told they are essential to national security. In the draft Nuclear Posture Review, released in January 2018, it is claimed that:
“Nuclear weapons have, and will continue to play, a critical role in deterring nuclear attack and in preventing large-scale conventional war…”
These, and similar statements being made every day by politicians and officials defending the continued existence of nuclear weapons, are an incitement to proliferation. They are basically saying to every other nation on earth, “If you want to be safe and secure, if you want to deter other countries from attacking you, you need nuclear weapons, too.”
In 1968, the five countries which at that time had nuclear weapons signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), promising to give up their nuclear weapons if the rest of the world promised not to acquire them. Since then, the rest of the world has more or less kept its side of the bargain, but the nuclear nations have not. Already, four other countries have acquired nuclear weapons since then (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea). But the longer this goes on without any sign of the nuclear nations giving up their nuclear weapons, the more likely it is that other countries will decide to acquire them.
A world in which every country has nuclear weapons is an infinitely more dangerous one than a world in which no country has nuclear weapons. The only alternative to this nightmare scenario is a world in which no country has nuclear weapons.