Under what circumstances could humanity finally leave the nuclear weapons era? As I educate myself about various efforts towards nuclear disarmament the following question keeps coming up in my mind.

Won’t all the nuclear weapons states have to disarm at the same time?

I’m finding it difficult to find a way around the following logic. Pakistan won’t disarm unless India does. India won’t disarm unless China does. China won’t disarm unless Russia does. Russia won’t disarm unless America does. America won’t disarm unless everyone else does.

What nuclear power is going to disarm while it’s perceived adversaries still retain nuclear weapons?

Well, that has happened to some degree. South Africa gave up a few nukes. Libya abandoned it’s plans, as have some other countries.

Ukraine gave up a significant number of nuclear weapons in exchange for promises it’s borders would be respected, a promise that was soon ignored when Russia invaded Ukraine and the rest of the world did little to stop them.

I’m not sure how these examples of unilateral disarmament can be applied to the remaining major nuclear powers. Maybe they do, but I don’t see it yet.

As best I can tell, none of the major nuclear powers will disarm without agreement from all nuclear powers to do the same. If that’s true, this would seem to mean that the internal political culture in each nuclear armed country would have to be receptive to global disarmament, at the same time.

Is it true that either everybody disarms, or nobody disarms? Is it an all or nothing equation?

Arms race protests in the Western democracies are great and I totally support them. Doing something, anything, is a far superior approach to doing nothing. But changing the policies of the Western countries will hardly be enough. Won’t we also have to persuade the leaders of countries like Pakistan, China and Russia?

As just one example, the last time Russia was invaded in WWII they lost 20 million people, which we might remind ourselves is 40 times as many deaths as America suffered. Pretty much everything from the Polish border to Moscow was burned to the ground. Isn’t it going to take some very serious persuasion to get the Russian people, let alone the Russian leaders, to give up nuclear weapons?

Won’t all the nuclear weapons states have to disarm at the same time?

I’m hoping to find thoughtful discussion of such questions. If you can help, please let me know. Thanks!