Nuclear disarmament in various theories of international relations

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Publish Date : 01/15/2022 14:56
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Nuclear weapons have different meanings depending on countries' perceptions of this phenomenon, such as destruction, power, and the prestige of security

Retrieved from: Mohammad Hassan Daryaei, Nuclear disarmament in various theories of international relations, Foreign policy quarterly, 2009.

With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a new weapon was introduced that changed the strategic equations from their conventional nature and it emerged as the main shaper of the defining components of contemporary strategy for more than half a century after World War II. The highly destructive nature of this weapon and the strategic overflows that this weapon causes to enter an area caused that holders of this weapon should do their best to prevent others from acquiring this weapon. In contrast, countries that did not have these weapons did their best to disarm and destroy this weapon. For this reason, the term nuclear disarmament has a lifespan equivalent to that of a nuclear weapon. In different theoretical perspectives of international relations, different views on nuclear disarmament have been proposed. Some views, such as realism and neo-realism, according to their theoretical components, consider nuclear weapons as a factor of power and prestige, given that countries are always looking for power or increasing its amount. Acquisition and maintenance of nuclear weapons is one of the constant goals of nations, and nuclear disarmament is merely a utopian ideal that can never be achieved and raising it by nuclear states is just to persuade non-nuclear states not to try to acquire nuclear weapons. In the theory of neoliberal institutionalism and the theory of regimes in the form of assumptions related to convergence, interdependence, functionalism and institutionalism, an attempt has been made to explain the cooperation of countries on security issues. But given the complex nature of security issues that relate directly to the presence or absence of countries, the theory of regimes has not been very successful in explaining it and does not show how a country is willing to voluntarily eliminate nuclear weapons in the form of an international regime, which is a factor in the country's power. However, some do not consider NPT to be an international regime but even by accepting this, the issue of nuclear disarmament is inexplicable. Because the rules and normative system in NPT are more about non-proliferation and regulations on nuclear disarmament are general and unenforceable and do not impose binding obligations on nuclear states. Proponents of security ideology tried to explain disarmament with an idealistic approach by proposing a cooperative security theory and demonstrate the common interests arising from the reduction and destruction of nuclear weapons with their assumptions. The optimism of this theory stemmed from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War and subsequent developments in nuclear disarmament have shown that this theory is also incapable of explaining nuclear disarmament. But structural theory, with its emphasis on both material and immaterial dimensions, simultaneously revolutionized security perspectives. According to this theory, the semantic system related to the nuclear phenomenon and the perception of countries and intersubjective understanding of this phenomenon is of particular importance. Nuclear weapons have different meanings depending on countries' perceptions of this phenomenon, such as destruction, power, and the prestige of security. Based on their understanding of this phenomenon, countries defined a normative system that subsequently formed their identities and interests and in subsequent interactions, norms related to and appropriate to the identity of countries were produced, consolidated and reproduced. Nuclear and non-nuclear identities led to different behaviors in normative interactions by countries and during the four normative stages, the construction of intersubjective facts about the nuclear phenomenon, the social realities at the core of identities, norms, interests, and subsequent regulations were followed. Then behavioral interactions between actors and the existing structure stabilized the state of mutual consolidation of the structure and the agent and given the ability and power of countries to participate, the United States, as a major player, has maintained its dominance in producing and institutionalizing the norm in this area. Overall, it seems that structural theory and its components provide the necessary tools for analyzing and explaining countries' tendencies regarding nuclear disarmament. By understanding the semantic system governing the nuclear phenomenon and the extent of countries' intersubjective perception of this phenomenon, nuclear disarmament can be explained. According to this theory, progress in nuclear disarmament depends on social realities, countries' identities, norms, interests, and regulatory rules.

“ Nuclear disarmament in various theories of international relations ”