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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Hagel’s “Global Zero” Plan

A nuclear weapons reduction plan advocated by Hagel evinces a less than serious understanding of both the nature of US deterrence needs, and the geopolitical balance between the United States and Russia.
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The second phase of the Global Zero plan would occur from 2014-2018. In a multilateral framework, the U.S. and Russia would agree to reduce to 500 total warheads each, to be implemented by 2021. All other countries, including China, Pakistan, North Korea and others, would freeze their nuclear stockpiles until 2018, followed by proportionate reductions until 2021 — irrespective of whether the U.S. deployed arsenal was smaller and less effective than many other countries. If in fact that took place — with nations hostile to the U.S. having arsenals in excess of the U.S. force — it would be the first time in the history of the nuclear age that such an event took place, and probably an irresistible invitation to them to attack.

Moreover, this plan assumes that a comprehensive verification and enforcement system will have been established — including agreed-on no-notice, on-site inspections, and that safeguards on the civilian nuclear fuel cycle would be strengthened to prevent their being diverted to build weapons.

The final two phases would include a “binding” ‘Global Zero Accord’ between 2019-2023, signed by all nuclear capable countries, for the phased, verified, proportionate reduction of all nuclear arsenals to zero total warheads by 2030. The whopping loophole in this plan is that any nation deeming itself not nuclear-capable could opt out of such an agreement, then be completely free to surprise the world with a nuclear arsenal once all the major powers had eliminated theirs.

Between 2024-2030, finally, there would be a complete “phased, verified, proportionate dismantlement of all nuclear arsenals to zero total warheads by 2030,” with an accompanying comprehensive verification and enforcement system prohibiting the development and possession of nuclear weapons.

Apart from the “Alice in Wonderland” nature of this proposal, there is the sense that its advocates share a less than serious understanding of both the nature of U.S. deterrence needs, and the geopolitical balance between the United States and Russia, not amenable to international or treaty law.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Peter Huessy

About the Author: Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis of Potomac, Maryland.


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