The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

This house would abolish nuclear weapons

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Started: 10/20/2016 Category: Technology
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 480 times Debate No: 96299
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My points:

1.States should not possess such destructive, cataclysmic weapons

Nuclear weapons are, by their very nature, indiscriminate and disproportional; any weapon which could not possibly be used in a responsible manner should not be permitted. Over the past fifty years, we have seen a general tendency towards limited warfare and precision weapons, allowing military objectives to be achieved with minimal loss of civilian life. The entire point of nuclear weapons, however, is their massive, indiscriminate destructive power. Their use could kill tens of thousands of civilians directly, and their catastrophic environmental after-effects would harm many more all around the world. These effects could never be morally acceptable, particularly as the basis of one"s national security strategy. They place "humanity and most forms of life in jeopardy of annihilation" (Krieger, 2003). No state or leader can be entrusted, morally, with a power and responsibility that could come close to annihilating humanity.

2.The purported efficacy of nuclear deterrence drives nuclear proliferation and therefore increases the risk of nuclear weapons being utilized

By claiming the efficacy of nuclear weapons as a strategic deterrent, the current nuclear powers encourage the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (Krieger, 2003). To be a part of the so-called 'nuclear club' is seen as a matter of great prestige; when India and Pakistan recently declared their nuclear capability and held mutual tests in the 1990s, it was seen in both countries as increasing their international status. Nevertheless, tensions in the region have only increased since the mutual announcements, not least the Kargil War of 1999 that almost precipitated a nuclear war. Nations opposed to a nuclear power therefore feel that they need to develop their own capability in order to protect themselves. The declared nuclear powers must therefore take the lead in disarmament, as an example for the rest of the world.

3.Risk of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands

While nuclear weapons exist, they can fall into the wrong hands. This is particularly prevalent in an environment whereby there are extremist groups actively seeking to cause instant, egregious harm to their ideological and political enemies. Such groups do not lack for funding; therefore the fear of weapons falling into the wrong hands has never been higher. This is particularly true in Russia, which now has control of all of the nuclear weapons which were distributed around the former Soviet Union. In particular during the 1990s the military was disastrously underfunded; technicians and officers who were used to a high standard of living found themselves without pay, sometimes for years. At the same time, other states and extremist groups are willing to pay substantial sums for their services, and to gain access to nuclear weapons. This same danger is now as much, if not more, of a problem in Pakistan (Ambinder, 2011). The danger of a weapon being stolen, or a nuclear base being taken over by disgruntled members of the military or other extremists, can only be ended by destroying the weapons (Allison, 1997).

4.Both the use and threat of nuclear weapons are illegal

The disproportionate and indiscriminate nature of nuclear weapons use renders their possession illegal under international humanitarian law. The International Court of Justice in 1996, asked to provide an advisory opinion, declared unanimously that any use or threat of nuclear weapons had to be compatible with existing international law relating to armed conflict (International Court of Justice, 1996). The principles of discrimination and proportionality inherent in the laws of wars are codified in the Geneva Conventions of 1949, and are quite clearly violated by nuclear weapons. As such, a majority of the judges present felt that any such use or threat would "generally be contrary" to those rules of international law and therefore, unanimously, "there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control" (International Court of Justice, 1996).

5.Nuclear weapons can be abolished through the co-operation of nuclear powers and the establishment of an independent verification system

The co-operation of the United States and Russia, demonstrated in their regularly-renewed START treaties, confer the ability of nuclear powers to work towards a reduction in nuclear stockpiles. A new campaigning body, Global Zero, has laid out the path to nuclear abolishment, concerning first bilateral accords to reduce stockpiles in the manner already occurring. From there, they advocate the "universal acceptance of a comprehensive verification and enforcement system accompanied by tighter controls on fissile materials produced by civil-nuclear programmes" (The Economist, 2011). The process will not be swift, but it is plausible and not a stretch considering the success of previous START treaties and the example of the International Atomic Energy Agency as an independent body charged with verifying nuclear installations.
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