Recently, President Obama openly supported India’s bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Though there is much backing for the idea, as it somewhat updates the world order to take into account the large population and economic ability of India, there are numerous ramifications emerging out of President Obama’s endorsement. This year, thanks to EPIIC, nuclear issues take considerable focus for me, and this announcement is rife with nuclear consequences.
Not only is this, again, a movement against our cooperative actions with India’s nuclear neighbor, Pakistan, but I posit that it gives a message to the world. What is that message? Nuclear weapons give you power. Though this may seem like a given, it actually is an idea that the world has been steadily moving away from. Experts state that in today’s globalized world, deterrent capabilities against other states is diminishing, and the destructive force that nuclear weapons yield makes them obsolete. The Cold War is over, there’s no need for an arms race. Furthermore, key events like the failed Soviet invasion of Afghanistan signal to the world that a non-nuclear weapons state could defeat a nuclear weapons state. Bonnie Jenkins calls this the reduction of the nuclear mystique. Basically, because nuclear weapons are shown to not be related to the amount of power and security a nation accrues, there is a much lesser chance that a non-nuclear weapons state will proliferate.
Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund, agrees, stating that there are five main factors that affect a state’s decision to proliferate: prestige, security, domestic politics, technology, and the economy. By endorsing India, the sixth nation to proliferate (the first five being the P5), Obama signals to the world that these reasons, in particular prestige, have not gone away. It may seem to some that nations are being given their permanent seats at the UNSC in correlation to the power they receive from nuclear weapons. Perhaps, given (much, much) time, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea would be given permanent seats. Or perhaps not. Regardless, the international community received the message loud and clear: nuclear India receives the prestige of a permanent seat on the UNSC, proliferation might do the same for us. Especially for nations on the edge of proliferation, such as Iran (who is constantly seeking recognition as a world power), the nuclear mystique must be addressed. Obama made a rather large mistake, and may have unravelled a lot of the work the nuclear proliferation regime has put forth. He says he’s working towards global nuclear zero, but don’t actions speak louder than words?
–Avantha Arachchi is a sophomore, majoring in International Relations (International Security) and French.