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September 11 and the Need for International Nuclear Agreements
Working Paper

Published By

Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique

March 2003

What is the impact of the events of September 11 and the subsequent "war on terrorism" on nuclear issues? The "war on terrorism" is a handy political moniker for what the United States must learn to do in response to changes that have actually been taking place over several years. Some of the US responses to date have been wise. Some need a new look. Perhaps most important, in some areas, the United States and other countries have not responded and may be at a loss to respond, given the constraints on their policies. Some of these lacking responses provide the most important items on the post September 11 security agenda. In what follows, I will give one view of what these are and what to do about them.

I begin with nuclear terrorism, particularly the possibility of using nuclear weapons for terrorist purposes. The next section addresses the related issue of nuclear proliferation to state and non-state actors. The events of September 11 have given a new twist to that issue. There is a relationship between the possibility of nuclear weapons getting into terrorists' hands and the problems in Iraq, South and Central Asia, and North Korea. The following sections deals with an item that is no longer high on the US political agenda but which is tied to proliferation and terrorism and has a greater long-range potential for causing trouble, the incipient nuclear rivalries around the world. In closing, I suggest some elements of a desirable nuclear posture to deal with some of the problems outlined.

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