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Nuclear Sharing: Nato and the N+1 Country

Courtesy Reuters

IS the spread of nuclear strike forces good or bad? When we regard the diffusion of nuclear weapons as bad or at least worrisome, we refer to it as the Nth power problem. In this guise it appears as the principal menace lending a sense of urgency to our negotiations on arms control and as a trend to be fought. In particular, it is the chief justification offered for a test ban. During most of the time since the summer of 1958 we have been in negotiation with the Russians to conclude a treaty prohibiting the explosion of nuclear weapons. We do this largely because we hope that other countries will join us in abstaining from tests, and so find it harder to get a nuclear capability. Meanwhile we have stopped testing ourselves, and hope that the Soviet Union has too. Quite apart from the test ban, of course, we have for a long time so regulated our study, manufacture and operation of weapons as to reduce the chance of information of weapons design spreading to other countries, including our allies. These self-constraints have been embodied in our Atomic Energy Law. In both our atomic energy legislation and our arms control negotiation we act on the assumption that it is bad to increase the number of nuclear powers.

On the other hand, at least some of our military policies seem to proceed from the notion that it is good. Some contemplated NATO policies suppose in particular that we want to disperse the power to decide to use nuclear weapons, to have more than one center for such decision in the West. We have, of course, deployed nuclear weapons under our own control in many parts of the world. In several countries we have put weapons under the dual control of ourselves and our host. While we have not transferred warheads to the independent control of other countries, we have, in the case of several allies, sold or given them significant parts of

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