Existing nuclear order under strain: Manmohan Singh

Last Updated 24 February 2019, 15:38 IST

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said that the new global order has changed the nuclear status quo and the challenge before world leaders was to maintain the post-1945 taboo on the use of nuclear weapons.

Singh said that many countries were modernising their nuclear arsenals with tactical and low yield weapons, increasing the likelihood of their use.

“The existing nuclear order is coming under strain. Some of the old arms control agreements are being consigned to history,” the former prime minister said at a function to release a book “Nuclear Order in the 21st Century” authored by former diplomat Rakesh Sood.

Singh said that the goal of nuclear disarmament appeared to be receding and deterrence theories, developed to address the US–USSR Cold War rivalry was being redefined by strategic thinkers in a world grappling with the threats of rising nationalism, extremism and terrorism.

“Nuclear science and technology has matured over the last seventy years and is easier to access and acquire. This generates new proliferation risks and challenges,” Singh said.

He said that the new uncertainties were being created due to developments in Artificial Intelligence, and growing space and cyber vulnerabilities.

“Many leaders are concerned that these lead to greater unpredictability and compress the timelines for decision making. It can lead to unintended escalation, increasing the likelihood of a nuclear strike, something the world has not seen since 1945,” Singh said.

He stressed on the need to create a new nuclear order that was more aligned to the new political and technological landscapes.

Singh noted that multipolarity had become a reality in the global economy but the political structures were yet to overcome the inertia of outmoded thinking.

He stressed that nuclear stability required the establishment of clear red lines and predictability to reinforce deterrence.

“Today’s nuclear age is best described as an age of asymmetry, asymmetry in terms of doctrines, arsenals and technology,” Singh said.

“This is why the most important challenge today is to ensure that the nuclear taboo that has prevented its use since 1945 continues to be preserved,” the former prime minister said.

(Published 24 February 2019, 15:34 IST)

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