Prolif good – War

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Small Arsenals

New proliferators will build small arsenals – uniquely stable.

Seng, 1998

[Jordan, PhD Candidate in Pol. Sci. – U. Chicago, Dissertation, “STRATEGY FOR PANDORA'S CHILDREN: STABLE NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION AMONG MINOR STATES”, p.203-206]

However, this "state of affairs" is not as dangerous as it might seem. The nuclear arsenals of limited nuclear proliferators will be small and, consequently, the command and control organizations that manage chose arsenals will be small as well. The small arsenals of limited nuclear proliferators will mitigate against many of the dangers of the highly delegative, 'non-centralized' launch procedures Third World states are likely to use. This will happen in two main ways. First, only a small number of people need be involved in Third World command and control. The superpowers had tens of thousands of nuclear warheads and thousands of nuclear weapons personnel in a variety of deployments organized around numerous nuclear delivery platforms. A state that has, say, fifty nuclear weapons needs at most fifty launch operators and only a handful of group commanders. This has both quantitative and qualitative repercussions. Quantitatively, the very small number of people 'in the loop' greatly diminishes the statistical probability that accidents or human error will result in inappropriate nuclear launches. All else being equal, the chances of finding some guard asleep at some post increases with the number of guards and posts one has to cover. Qualitatively, small numbers makes it possible to centrally train operators, to screen and choose them with exceeding care, 7 and to keep each of them in direct contact with central authorities in times of crises. With very small control communities, there is no need for intermediary commanders. Important information and instructions can get out quickly and directly. Quality control of launch operators and operations is easier. In some part, at least, Third World states can compensate for their lack of sophisticated use-control technology with a more controlled selection of, and more extensive communication with, human operators. Secondly, and relatedly, Third World proliferators will not need to rely on cumbersome standard operating procedures to manage and launch their nuclear weapons. This is because the number of weapons will be so small, and also because the arsenals will be very simple in composition. Third World stares simply will not have that many weapons to keep track of. Third World states will not have the great variety of delivery platforms that the superpowers had (various ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, long range bombers, fighter bombers, missile submarines, nuclear armed ships, nuclear mortars, etc., etc.), or the great number and variety of basing options, and they will not employ the complicated strategies of international basing that the superpowers used. The small and simple arsenals of Third World proliferators will not require highly complex systems to coordinate nuclear activities. This creates two specific organizational advantages. One, small organizations, even if they do rely to some extent of standard operating procedures, can be flexible in times of crisis. As we have discussed, the essential problem of standard operating procedures in nuclear launch processes is that the full range if possible strategic developments cannot be predicted and specified before the fact, and thus responses to them cannot be standardized fully. An unexpected event can lead to 'mismatched' and inappropriate organizational reactions. In complex and extensive command and control organizations, standard operating procedures coordinate great numbers of people at numerous levels of command structure in a great multiplicity of places. If an unexpected event triggers operating procedures leading to what would be an inappropriate nuclear launch, it would be very difficult for central commanders to “get the word out' to everyone involved. The coordination needed to stop launch activity would be at least as complicated as the coordination needed to initiate it, and, depending on the speed of launch processes, there may be less time to accomplish it. However, the small numbers of people involved in nuclear launches and the simplicity of arsenals will make it far easier for Third World leaders to 'get the word out' and reverse launch procedures if necessary. Again, so few will be the numbers of weapons that all launch operators could be contacted directly by central leaders. The programmed triggers of standard operating procedures can be passed over in favor of unscripted, flexible responses based on a limited number of human-to-human communications and confirmations. Two, the smallness and simplicity of Third World command and control organizations will make it easier for leaders to keep track of everything that is going on at any given moment. One of the great dangers of complex organizational procedures is that once one organizational event is triggered—once an alarm is sounded and a programmed response is made—other branches of the organization are likely to be affected as well. This is what Charles Perrow refers to as interactive complexity, 8 and it has been a mainstay in organizational critiques of nuclear command and control s ystems.9 The more complex the organization is, the more likely these secondary effects are, and the less likely they are to be foreseen, noticed, and well-managed. So, for instance, an American commander that gives the order to scramble nuclear bombers over the U.S. as a defensive measure may find that he has unwittingly given the order to scramble bombers in Europe as well. A recall order to the American bombers may overlook the European theater, and nuclear misuse could result. However, when numbers of nuclear weapons can be measured in the dozens rather than the hundreds or thousands, and when deployment of those weapons does not involve multiple theaters and forward based delivery vehicles of numerous types, tight coupling is unlikely to cause unforeseen and unnoticeable organizational events. Other things being equal, it is just a lot easier to know all of what is going on. In short, while Third World states may nor have the electronic use-control devices that help ensure that peripheral commanders do nor 'get out of control,' they have other advantages that make the challenge of centralized control easier than it was for the superpowers. The small numbers of personnel and organizational simplicity of launch bureaucracies means that even if a few more people have their fingers on the button than in the case of the superpowers, there will be less of a chance that weapons will be launched without a definite, informed and unambiguous decision to press that button.

Won’t build large arsenals – solves conflict.

Seng 1998 [Jordan, PhD Candidate in Pol. Sci. – U. Chicago, Dissertation, “STRATEGY FOR PANDORA'S CHILDREN: STABLE NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION AMONG MINOR STATES”, p.2]

Because of the unique strategic and political contexts of minor proliferators, they will be able to generate stable nuclear deterrence without numerically huge arsenals, weapons survival technologies, advanced and highly complex systems of command and control, and massive arms race resources that the superpowers employed in their nuclear relationship. This is not to say, as highly optimistic scholars would have us believe, that nuclear proliferators need not worry at all about issues such as crisis stability, command and control, and arms race stability, but rather that they will be able to achieve these things in a different way than the superpowers' did. Kenneth Waltz, the most optimistic of proliferation analysts, has argued that if a state is even suspected of having nuclear weapons then it will have achieved robust deterrent capability. The prospect of losing even one city to nuclear attack will be enough to deter the most determined aggressor, he reasons, and therefore states will not need large nuclear arsenals or secure second strike technology. Further, he argues that because proliferators will realize they only need a few nuclear weapons for deterrence, they will not build large and complex forces that overwhelm their capacities for effective command and control.

Small arsenals check

Waltz 2k—Kenneth, pol sci prof at Berkeley (Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Volume 1, Number 1, Winter/Spring 2000, Interviewed by Jeremy Goldberg & Parag Khanna “Interview: Is Kenneth Waltz Still M.A.D. about Nukes?”,, ZBurdette)
Journal Will new proliferants be destabilizing? Waltz The new proliferants are mainly, but not entirely, weak states. Pakistan and India are good examples of new nuclear powers that are going to have only a small number of nuclear warheads. The United States has at least seven thousand strategic nuclear warheads. If you have thousands of nuclear warheads* then you need elaborate bureaucracies to control the arsenal. But if you have ten nuclear warheads or fifty, you are going to cherish those nuclear warheads. You obviously feel that you need them, and therefore you have every reason to be very careful. The accidents and near–accidents that have taken place with nuclear warheads have been, as far as I know, accidents on the part of the major nuclear powers and not the small ones. Journal So, you do believe that these new proliferants of the future can be deterred? Waltz Well, that is a different question. The United States and the Soviet Union developed peculiar ideas of nuclear deterrence: namely that thousands of warheads are required for deterrence. That notion was always crazy. At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis our estimates were that the Soviet Union had only about seventy true strategic systems. We had thousands. Were we deterred? Yes we were. We did not strike at the nuclear warheads that the Soviet Union had in Cuba. The Air Force was asked if they could hit and destroy all the targets. And remember that they were close by, and there were not that many of them. The Air Force answered: “We promise we can get 90 percent.” Not enough. We were deterred. Now, nuclear weapons do not deter everybody from doing everything. They do not deter forays. They do not deter, for example, Arab countries from starting wars over the disputed terroritories. But they did dissuade the Egyptians and Syrians from trying to divide Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. They pulled back for fear that the threat of the destruction of the Israeli State would prompt the use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons deter threats to the vital interests of the state, and they have done so in every case that comes to mind.
Small arsenals = effective command and control

Seng, 1998

[Jordan, PhD Candidate in Pol. Sci. – U. Chicago, Dissertation, “STRATEGY FOR PANDORA'S CHILDREN: STABLE NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION AMONG MINOR STATES”, p.56-57]

Effective command and control need not involve all the advanced technology of the superpowers either. The superpowers employed large. complex, redundant and highly sophisticated technology and organizations. Arsenals were so large, fat-Hung and varied that centralized civilian control was impossible, and thus complicated systems of checks and fail safes developed to manage a highly declarative command structure. But what if a nuclear arsenal were not so large, far-flung and varied? What if it consisted of only a handful of weapons; say fifteen or even twenty? First. the statistical likelihood of nuclear accidents would be smaller in such a scenario. Second, the technology and organizational sophistication needed to control such an arsenal would be minimal. Communication requirements would be simpler because there would not be so many launch sites with which to stay in contact. If states do not have bombs on submarines or patrolling bombers and in foreign countries, fail safes are much easier to construct. The chance for human errors could be lessened because personnel could be hand-picked and tightly supervised. Launch authority could be vested in relatively few people, and command structures need not be so delegate. Perhaps most importantly, commanding and controlling tiny arsenals need not involve heavy reliance on complex organizations and the use of cumbersome standard operating procedures. All of this also would make it easier to guard weapons from thieves and renegades.
Prolif is small arsenals – 4 reasons

Economic constraints

Fallout fear

Political reward


Seng, 1998


Nuclear proliferation among developing states will involve both small target sets and small arsenals. Population and industry are highly concentrated in developing states, offering a very limited number of targets to hit. Large numbers of weapons would not be needed to inflict McNamaran levels of nuclear destruction. Large numbers of nuclear weapons are proscribed for other reasons as well. Fears about the spread of deadly nuclear fallout will keep states from launching more than a handful of weapons on regional adversaries. Economic constraints will help limit the numerical size of developing state arsenals. Political rewards of nuclear weapons development will accrue to developing state proliferators even if they do not have large numbers of weapons. The requirements of keeping arsenals opaque also will enforce tight numerical restrictions. We can expect arsenals among developing stares to be opaque for reasons concerning the costs of international anti-proliferation sanctions and the benefits opacity provides in domestic and international politics. There is a strong global regime proscribing the spread of nuclear weapons. States that break the global nonproliferation norm risk various international sanctions directed by this regime. By obscuring proliferatory transgressions, opacity makes it more difficult for regime leaders to identify weapons development, and when regime leaders do suspect weapons development opacity makes it hard to prove. The uncertainty makes it hard for leaders of the regime to institute sanctions, whether individually or in concert with other states. This cover of uncertainty is especially important for developing states. They are particularly vulnerable to sanctions due to their dependence on Western military and economic aid and their need for trade with large, developed markets. While Cold War geostrategic politics once protected some proliferating states from the threat of international sanctions, the end of the Cold War removed that shelter. The U.S. and its allies now have greater freedom to apply aid and trade pressure; correspondingly, opacity becomes more valuable as a strategy of avoidance. Opaque proliferation has important political benefits for both the proliferating state and concerned outsiders. Opacity helps preserve the integrity of the global nonproliferation norm despite limited proliferation. It also could help political leaders in both the proliferating state and its enemy states avoid politically charged agitation from hardliners that could derail stable political and strategic arrangements. In sum. there are good reasons to expect proliferation in the developing world to be small and opaque, and thus there are good reasons to expect to see limited mean nuclear deterrence. In chapter one, I discussed at length the four basic requirements of stable nuclear deterrence, including strategic deterrent threat, crisis stability. effective command and control, and arms race stability. These are the pillars on which all stable nuclear deterrence, including alternate form nuclear deterrence. is built. The next four chapters deal with each of these requirements respectively, demonstrating in detail how limited nuclear proliferation can translate into stable deterrence in the developing world.

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