Until a year or two ago we were entitled to believe that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) could successfully hold the line at five nuclear weapons powers, if only a few holdout countries would sign or ratify it. Two events have thrown into serious doubt the ability of present policies to stem the further proliferation of nuclear weapon capabilities among additional nations.
The first event was the Indian "peaceful" nuclear explosion in May 1974, which jumped the firebreak between the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council-who are also the nuclear weapons powers-and all other nations. That barrier had held for ten years since the first Chinese detonation in 1964.
What seemed to undermine the earlier mild optimism that the NPT could do the job was not that "nuclear-weapons-capable" countries such as Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, and West Germany, or even nations in conflict like Pakistan, Taiwan, South Africa, South Korea, Israel, or Egypt were on the verge of exploding their own nuclear devices (though many think Israel is in fact the "seventh" nuclear weapons power). It was rather that the general climate of expectation about what was likely to take place had changed significantly. Many now believe that there will be Nuclear Weapons Power numbers 7, 8, 9, ad infinitum. Members of the international professional strategic community have already been discounting the future and shifting their planning to ways of living in a world of many nuclear weapons powers. The crucial new reality is thus not merely the existence of a sixth (or seventh) such power; it is above all the altered prediction that influential people around the world are making as a consequence.1
Having one more "nuclear-capable" power does not change the world. But what could change it would be a snowballing, fatalistic belief that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy unless it is countered by a different belief that is equally potent.
The second event was the worldwide energy crisis. Predictions of numbers of future nuclear power
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