The first nuclear weapons

The Importance of Nuclear Weapons Debates

The first nuclear weapons were used in the Second World War in 1945, and they have never been used in a war since. Nuclear weapons debates are currently essential to international discourse. As a result, several laws, policies, and treaties have been signed around the world to govern the possession and use of nuclear weapons. The debates over whether or not states should possess nuclear weapons for their own protection. The popular position in this debate has been to prohibit countries from developing and owning nuclear weapons for fear of them being used to attack other nations or incite war (Basrur, 2008). However, the other side of the argument, which countries should possess nuclear weapons for their protective use, has been consistently ignored in the debates. A consistent and fruitful argument should look at both sides of the arguments to come up with an agreeable position in a debate. The overarching question, therefore, is: Under what conditions should states be permitted to possess nuclear weapons?

The Disagreements Surrounding Nuclear Weapons Arming

Some scholars such as Gartzke (2007) have associated this wide disagreement to the political fears which emerged during and after the cold war periods. Despite the global shun of the nuclear weapons and the strict supervision at the international level, some countries such as Iran, North Korea, Libya, Russia, The United Kingdom and the United States have gone ahead to make nuclear weapons. Moreover, while the United States, Russia, UK, and other powerful nations have been on the forefront to fight nuclear armament in oversea countries, they remain in possession of the same. These factors have not only sparked disagreements concerning right and reasons to own nuclear weapons, a fact which has forced other countries such as North Korea to defy these regulations openly and manufacture the weapons. This paper reviews the states’ possession of nuclear weapons. The review addresses the issue from a twin perspective: possession of nuclear weapons as a means to encourage peace and the possession of the same as a remedy to invoke conflict between nations. Consequently, the review responds to the question: To what extent the possession of nuclear weapons can encourage peace between countries as opposed to aggression?

Analysis of Nuclear Weapons Arming: For Peace or Conflicts

The common belief that has infiltrated the society lately is that the world would become a much more dangerous place when countries were allowed to make and possess nuclear weapons. Particularly, the fears that the countries owning nuclear weapons can fire them in anger, or that the weapons may explode accidentally in a way that may prompt nuclear exchange are quite immense (Fearon, 1995). The belief that countries may use nuclear weapons to provoke war when allowed to own them depend on a variety of factors relating to the characters of the nuclear states. Some of these factors include the states’ sense of responsibility, their inclination towards the desire to maintain the status quo, the political competence, and the states’ administrative competencies, etc. Sagan (2012) argues from the perspectives of the neorealists’ theory and maintains that the global states exist in a global anarchical system; hence, states must rely on themselves to protect, preserve and maintain their sovereignty as well as protect themselves from external aggression. This means that the states need to arm themselves adequately with good weaponry and armies to prevent attack by external parties.

The Impact of Nuclear Weapons on Conventional Conflicts

To understand the facts provided in the facts described above, it is important to understand whether or not more conventional conflicts are stimulated by the increase in existing nuclear arsenals or not. It is also essential to determine whether or not conventional conflicts spring as a result of the first-time acquisition of nuclear weapons either singly or alongside their key rivals. Many scholars agree that for the reasons commensurate to the magnitude of the relative destructive effects of conventional nuclear weapons, the weapons have changed the manners and character of warfare. For instance, Russett & Maoz (1993) agrees that using nuclear weapons in warfare and its destructive effects are unique in its capacity. Arguing from the cold war perspectives, Sapolsky, Gholz & Kaufman (1999) observes that the inherent nuclear capabilities during the cold war periods played an invocation role thereby influencing a crisis in the world. However, it is the inherent destructive power of the nuclear weapons that mattered rather than their complexity.

The Influence of Nuclear Weapons on Dispute Resolution and Negotiations

Certain theoretical models that attempt to address the proliferation of nuclear weapons have not come to conclusive results concerning the matter. However, it is clear that the empirical researches focusing on the causes of the proliferations indicate preferences for both security and the economic factors associated with the possession of the weapons. For instance, the endogenized model analysis of the nuclear weapons highlights that the states which possess nuclear weapons are less likely to initiate disputes or even face serious challenges with solving disputes (Sapolsky, Gholz & Kaufman, 1999). Similar observations are held by the general estimation equation models in conflict resolution which states that states in possession of nuclear weapons are more likely to end up in some low-level disputes which are less likely to escalate into major wars. In the same vein, Sobek Foster, & Robinson (2012) agrees with the observation that the asymmetrical possessions of nuclear weapons by states within a dispute dyad improve the probability of obtaining a favorable outcome when involved in disputes.

Consequently, the countries which are in possession of nuclear weapons also stand a better chance of winning favorable outcomes in negotiations. All powerful countries in the world today, including the US, UK, and Russia, with good nuclear weapons, are also the most fortified and are highly likely to achieve favorable negotiated results internationally (Herman 1993). These indications point to the importance of nuclear weapons to the states possessing them regarding negotiating peace and solving disputes with the other countries. Consequently, such powers have increased the influences these states both at the regional and international levels. For instance, China, USA, and Russia are some of the most influential countries in the world when it comes to war and peace negotiations abroad. This fact is contributed to by the States’ military and economic powers.

The Risks of Nuclear Weapons Possession and the Power to Influence

However, the power to influence as a result of states’ possession of WMD has also been questioned on various fronts. For instance, if all states strive to attain influence at the global scale, the likelihood of a nuclear war erupting is high. States emerge to the status of power and recognition by displaying their military might. For instance, North Korea is currently involved in a war of supremacy, to display her military power and acceptance as an influential country. Referring to Bremer (1992) work, the constant demands for recognition and influence by states are highly likely to fuel the war with the powerful countries. For instance, North Korean supremacy battle with the US over nuclear weapons is likely to escalate into war, following the recent backings of North Korea by Russia and China.

Despite these facts, it is important to observe whether or not states which have owned nuclear weapons for long have changed their behavior over time owing to their possession of WMD. According to Yamada (2016), the extent of the feeling of fortification from external aggressions due to the massive possession of WMD has had its challenges and benefits since the cold war periods. The model of handling the weapons has been the center of debates at the international levels and the central focus in international relations based on countries’ possession of WMD. Analysis of behavior change over time varies significantly from one region or state to another. While some states such as the US, UK, China, and Russia have maintained a low profile in showing their nuclear might, instead choosing to use their economic and political power to gain international influence and recognition, others such as North Korea, Iran, etc. have chosen otherwise.

The Need for Responsible Nuclear Weapons Possession

While some states such as the US, UK, etc. have remained largely responsible concerning the manner in which they handle their nuclear weapons others such as Iran, North Korea, etc. have demonstrated recklessness with the weapons. Since its possession of nuclear weapons in 2006, the Kim Jong-un led North Korean government has been at loggerheads with the international community with its constant threats of war and missile tests. Kim Jong-un’s reckless handling of his weapons, missile tests carried out in the Japanese Sea, and recent parading of his massive weapons to the international community are the key factors of concern. For instance, the US has argued that the North’s weapons of herself poses great threats to the neighboring countries such as South Korea and even to the United States.

Based on the arguments described earlier, the US has embarked on a move to besiege North Korea by transporting its warships towards the coasts of North Korea with an aim to keep the North’s nuclear ambitions in check (Yamada, 2016). These recent happenings point to the gruesome effects of nuclear weapons’ possession to the world’s peace. The North Korean scenario explains the notion that if nuclear weapons are allowed to be in possession of reckless leaders such as Kim, the likelihood of using them to provoke conflicts is high. Consequently, this study concludes that countries should be allowed to possess nuclear weapons only when the intention is predominantly, self-protection.


Possession of nuclear weapons by States has been central to the current debates in the political and international relations arena lately. Nuclear weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction due to their massive destructive force. While some countries possess nuclear weapons and more continue to arm themselves with them, the debates have been on under what circumstances countries should be allowed to own the weapons. While some countries have maintained their association of nuclear weapons with self-security, issues have arisen with others such as North Korea which have proven recklessly dangerous with these weapons. Under such circumstances, possession of nuclear weapons by such countries has proven dangerous and a threat to the regional and international peace. This research, therefore, concludes that countries should be allowed to arm themselves with nuclear weapons only when the intention is self-defense as opposed to the provocation of war.


Basrur, R. M. (2008). South Asia’s Cold War: nuclear weapons and conflict in comparative perspective. Routledge.

Bremer, S.A. (1992). Dangerous Dyads: Conditions Affecting the Likelihood of Interstate War, 1816-1965. The Journal of Conflict Resolution, 36(2): 309-341.

Fearon, J.D. (1995). Rationalist explanations for war. International Organization, 49(3): 379-414

Gartzke, E. (2007). The Capitalistic Peace. American Journal of Political Science, 51(1): 166-191.

Herman, M. (1996). Intelligence power in peace and war. Cambridge University Press.

Russett, B., & Maoz, Z. (1993). Normative and Structural Causes of Democratic Peace, 1946-1986. The American Political Science Review, 87(3): 624-638.

Sagan, S. D. (2012). Why do states build nuclear weapons? Three models in search of a bomb.

Sapolsky, H. M., Gholz, E., & Kaufman, A. (1999). Security lessons from the cold war. Foreign Affairs, 77-89.

Sobek, D., Foster, D.M., Robinson, S.B. (2012). Conventional Wisdom? The Effect of Nuclear Proliferation on Armed Conflict, 1945-2001. International Studies Quarterly, 56, 149-162.

Yamada, M. (2016). The Battle for Okinawa. Foreign Affairs.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price