Courtesy Reuters

Nuclear Fuel-For-All

The achievement of a common Soviet-American position on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons is of major international importance. Whether or not it leads to a treaty obtaining a large number of signatures, the two countries have now formally recognized one of their strongest common interests. What impact this will have on their ability to work together over a wider range of security problems remains to be seen and depends on many other factors. For the moment, the central question is what influence the great powers generally can exert on the non-nuclear powers to refrain from constructing nuclear forces. Once the Soviet, American and British Governments have discovered, as they will, that 125 or more governments cannot and will not bind themselves and their successors to renounce unconditionally weapons which five major powers possess, the hard struggle to resist proliferation can begin in earnest. It starts with the substantial advantage that no non-nuclear country seems at present to be close to a decision to acquire a nuclear force.

With or without a nonproliferation treaty, therefore, we face a substantial task. In the immediate future, as in the immediate past, the significant countries will be those which are capable of taking a decision to develop nuclear forces. A reasonable estimate is that this number now stands at three-Germany, Japan and Canada-with Sweden, Italy and India close behind. To discourage this small but growing group of industrial, non-nuclear countries from developing nuclear weapons is essentially a political problem. In the course of the next fifteen years or so, Australia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Israel, Brazil, Switzerland, the German Democratic Republic and Poland will be among those who might achieve the necessary technical and financial capacity.

In any event, we know that the number of countries able to take the decision to produce nuclear explosives will steadily increase. One factor more than any other will determine the number of governments which will be in a position to make an affirmative choice: that is the extent to

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