Is Nuclear Zero the Best Option

The Debate on Nuclear Zero Policy

The debate in the article is whether nuclear zero policy should be implemented or if a worse option should be considered. When President Obama declared that the United States is trying to create a nuclear-free world, the attempt to enforce nonproliferation had become more apparent. Sagan D. Scott concurs that a nuclear zero should be adopted on a worldwide scale to reduce the incidence of terrorism. On the other hand, Kenneth Waltz N. suggests that adopting such a policy would only promote the nuclear and non-nuclear states would enter into World War III due to the possible resistance by the nuclear states. Although both arguments are valid, Sagan seems to make more convincing claims citing various reasons for the option of nuclear zero.

Reasons for the Fight Against Nuclear Weapons

Sagan cites that there are 2 key reasons for the fight against nuclear weapons. First, the U.S is threatened by the rising terrorist groups that may be able to access the nuclear weapons as well as the rising nuclear powers that may have the intention of bombing the country. Secondly, when the act of disarmament is carried out in good faith, then the spread of nuclear weapons can be controlled in new states and the nuclear-armed nations. The author believes that an increase in weapons can result in increased terrorist attacks. He states, “And if there are more nuclear nations, and more atomic weapons in global arsenals, there will be more opportunities for terrorists to steal or buy the bomb” (Sagan and Waltz 2010, p. 88). These assertions are supported by various examples of terrorists who attempted to use the weapons for attacks. For instance, Dhiren Barot in 2004 had been arrested for plotting attacks in New York. Thus, there is a need to control the production and access of the weapons.

Arguments Against Nuclear Zero Policy

Kenneth Waltz argues that prohibiting ammunitions in nuclear and non-nuclear states will only promote war among countries. He cites various reasons why the idea of abandoning nuclear is flawed. First, he believes that most of the states owning nuclear weapons do not trust the U.S to promote peace. Since the state had attempted to fight Iraq during the Bush administration, other nuclear owning states like Korea and Iran would still believe that adopting the nuclear zero policy would make them vulnerable to the U.S powers. Waltz also thinks that many leaders would cheat but continue to produce the weapons. He states, “since some might cheat, all would have a strong incentive to do so” (Sagan and Waltz 2010, p. 93). Amidst this claim, the policy would be implemented if all the states consider the benefits greatly surpasses the costs.


Sagan, S. D., and Waltz, K. N., 2010. Is nuclear zero the best option?. The National Interest, Vol. 109, pp. 88-96.

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