The Post-American World and Nuclear Non-Proliferation: 20 years with no room for error

Founding Director of PIR Center; Founding President of the Trialogue Club International
Research Fellow, Nonproliferation & Russia Program
January 13, 2023
NPT

Remember the death of Porthos in the final “series” of Dumas’ epic about the Musketeers? The moment when he held the crumbling rock. He held it powerfully and reliably, without letting his comrades down. But then suddenly his legs failed him – so powerful and reliable. He had suspected for a long time that his legs were his weak point… but he still didn’t want to admit the obvious… A rock collapsed. And Porthos was gone. Even rocks are not eternal. Well, porthoses – even more so.

The article was originally published in «Russia in Global Affairs» Journal in January 2023. This PIR-Post provides its English translation.

Races through the double solid line

Throughout the existence of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) – and this is no less than 52 years – and the nuclear non-proliferation regime based on it, the Treaty was predicted to inevitably collapse. And the number “four” looks all the more convincing against this background: only four states: Israel, India, Pakistan and the DPRK, have acquired a nuclear arsenal outside or bypassing the NPT [1]. And despite the sharp criticism of the Treaty by a number of non-nuclear states – primarily due to the unsatisfactory, in their opinion, pace of nuclear disarmament – the Treaty remains stable. The balance of benefits and obligations put down in it still meets the interests of the absolute majority of the world’s states.

The experience of the last five decades shows that even states with serious scientific and technological potential are not ready to cross the nuclear “double solid line”, unless this is due to a real and inevitable threat to national security. An example of such a state is the DPRK, which went for the creation of nuclear weapons out of the need to deter the United States.

At the same time, it would be a mistake to take the NPT regime as a constant, which, despite the loud statements of individual states, will forever remain a reality of international life. It is important to remember that the nuclear non-proliferation regime is only one of the supporting structures of the global security architecture, and as its other elements weaken, the NPT regime will inevitably bear an increasing burden.

It cannot be ruled out that against the backdrop of the ongoing degradation of the military-political situation, individual states will start implementing military nuclear programs. In the most unfavorable scenario, this could lead to a “domino effect” and the end of the nuclear nonproliferation regime in its current form.

Today, such scenarios look alarmist, almost unthinkable. But in the context of a large-scale and painful reconfiguration of international relations, pacifism and faith in the inviolability of established international norms would be an unaffordable luxury.

Forthcoming PIR Center report “New Nuclear Nine? Assessing Nuclear Proliferation Threats in the World” (Moscow, “Ves Mir”, 2023. 223 p.)

Together with ten of our colleagues [2], we devoted the last year to a comprehensive study of the risks of nuclear proliferation in the world for the next five to twenty years, overcoming some academic narrow-mindedness in this area. As a result, the contour began to be outlined. And the “nine” started to show up. We are well aware of the traditional, now existing “nine” states possessing nuclear weapons. Therefore, we were interested in another “nuclear nine” – a new one: states that could potentially start implementing military nuclear programs in the period from 2027 to 2042.

The main impetus for our research was the fact that much of the existing work on the prospects for nuclear proliferation is focused on threats from developing states. At the same time, the destabilizing role of informal US commitments to ensure the security of its allies, the deployment of nuclear weapons outside the national territory and the supply of the most sensitive nuclear technologies to the closest allies (the case of AUKUS) is not covered in such detail.

So, according to most Western experts, the so-called “extended deterrence” plays the role of an additional supporting structure of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. At the same time, as the role of the United States in international affairs declines, the effectiveness of these props will inevitably erode. Moreover, the example of AUKUS reveals the features of a “conditional proliferation” policy, in which the United States will turn a blind eye to the encroachments of its satellites towards a more advanced nuclear missile status. And if so, then it cannot be ruled out that the main threat to the NPT will be not the states of the “Axis of Evil” and not anti-nuclear radicals, but the closest allies of the United States, who are considered quite respectable members of the NPT.

The fact that such a scenario is not illusory is evidenced, among other things, by an article published in February 2021 by four prominent representatives of the Western military-political establishment[3]. Former US and British defense secretaries, a former Australian prime minister and a former US envoy to NATO are asking the question: when will US allies acquire nuclear weapons? And how can this be prevented?

The recipes offered by the “Westerners” are, as a rule, consonant with one another: it is necessary to strengthen American leadership in every possible way. And for this it is worth patching up the “nuclear umbrella”, involving the allies in even closer defense cooperation and strengthening the deterrence of a potential adversary. One of the options is to extend the NATO model of joint nuclear missions to allies in the Asia-Pacific region as well[4].

Let us leave aside the question of how such proposals are in line with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Restoring and maintaining Washington’s ostensible leadership on nonproliferation issues will only perpetuate the risks associated with shaky security guarantees to US allies.

The “birth trauma” of the US-centric nonproliferation model is that it is based on a non-inclusive security architecture and does not take into account the interests of those who find themselves on the other side of the nuclear umbrellas. In this situation, Russia is assigned, at best, an auxiliary role. In the best days of the Russian-American non-proliferation dialogue, the United States sought to enlist Moscow’s authority in nuclear matters so that it would not be used against the goals of American foreign policy. Now, after the start of a special military operation, the divisive essence of American-style nonproliferation has become especially clear. There are obvious attempts to present us as a scarecrow of nuclear non-proliferation, to reduce the whole complex of problems in the nuclear field to the imaginary sins of the Kremlin. This is what led to the failure of the 10th NPT Review Conference, which was ingloriously held in August 2022.

The continuation of such a policy, at best, exacerbates the situation under the NPT. At worst, it leads to the dismantling of nonproliferation as such.

In the aforementioned study, we sought to analyze the most radical scenarios for the development of the situation in the field of nuclear non-proliferation, which could lead to the appearance of new nuclear states on the political map of the world. In addition to the obvious Iran, the less obvious Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Brazil were also considered as states and territories ready to “play for the increase”. It is them, in our opinion, who may be interested in maintaining uncertainty about their nuclear ambitions – either as the “last argument of the king” or as a bargaining chip [5].

When selecting the list of the “new nuclear nine”, we proceeded from several criteria: the presence of a military-technical potential, the military-political prerequisites for creating our own deterrence potential, and the presence of public statements about the possibility of creating nuclear weapons. That is, we analyzed both the “declarations” and the “objectives”. Below we summarize more than two hundred pages of research completed in November 2022.

Without anger. And without prejudice

Japan. In the short term, there are no realistic scenarios in which Japan would go nuclear. Public opinion is strongly opposed to a military nuclear program. Thus, according to researchers at Harvard University, more than 75% of the Japanese are in favor of a global ban on nuclear weapons and Japan’s accession to the TPNW.

To ensure the security of country, the political elite is determined to maintain sufficient technical capacity to create nuclear weapons, if necessary. At the same time, a consensus has developed among the elites regarding the undesirability of such a scenario, priority is given to maintaining and strengthening the military alliance with the United States as a guarantee of the country’s security. That is why Japan supported Trump’s policy of increasing the role of nuclear weapons to support allies.

In the event of a serious cooling of US-Japanese relations, the loss of Tokyo’s reinforced concrete confidence in the reliability of Washington as an ally and a guarantee of security, we should expect further reformatting of the policy of active pacifism, the emergence of not only defensive, but also offensive means in the Japan Self-Defense Forces. Reports of Tokyo’s readiness to acquire Tomahawk cruise missiles, as well as developments in hypersonic weapons, suggest that such a scenario is already underway.

South Korea. There is an obvious demand for power politics in South Korean society. At the same time, an attempt to openly start a military nuclear program will face obvious opposition from all nuclear powers, and especially China, which is not interested in the emergence of a new pole of power in the immediate vicinity of its borders.

An attempt to create nuclear weapons would also jeopardize the international prestige of the country and, probably, lead to the collapse of the military alliance with the United States, which is not a desirable outcome for the South Korean elites. This policy may be reconsidered if the course of the next American administration again shows a desire for self-withdrawal from international affairs.

The leadership of the Republic of Korea is aware of this risk and is striving to acquire an independent non-nuclear deterrence capability. In particular, thanks to skillful diplomacy, Seoul managed to extricate itself from US-imposed restrictions on the range and launch weight of South Korean missiles, securing a free hand in the development of the missile program.

The next step could be a revision of the “unequal” provisions of Agreement 123 and the construction of uranium enrichment and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities. South Korea already has relevant technological developments. At the same time, it is not entirely clear how the creation of such capacities is consistent with the declared course towards the gradual abandonment of nuclear energy.

Access to the most sensitive elements of the nuclear fuel cycle can also be obtained through the creation of nuclear submarines. South Korean politicians have spoken about the desirability of obtaining a nuclear submarine before, but the creation of the tripartite alliance AUKUS, within which it is planned to transfer up to eight nuclear submarines to Australia, gave this discussion an obvious impetus.

Taiwan. Despite having some scientific and technological potential, Taipei is aware that a military nuclear program will provoke a sharp reaction from Beijing and will likely be the end of the Republic of China as an independent territorial entity.

A police officer attends the opening ceremony of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism conference in Miami, Florida, June 11, 2007. Source: Foreign Affairs

Ukraine. Phantom pains on the issue of renunciation of nuclear weapons persist among the nationalist-minded part of the Ukrainian elite today. Ukraine has some opportunities to create nuclear weapons. Since the times of the USSR, Ukraine has had a developed industrial base, technologies for the production of launch vehicles, personnel, and a resource base. Nevertheless, there are significant gaps in this “resource abundance”: the absence of enterprises for uranium enrichment, plutonium processing, tritium production, as well as experience in the production of special warheads.

Speaking with manipulative statements, Ukraine, on the one hand, has tried and is trying to pull out financial and military assistance from Western partners. As a result of the special military operation of the Russian Armed Forces, any threats of Ukraine’s creation of nuclear weapons, as it seems, should be neutralized.

At the same time, there remains the risk of “nuclear blackmail” by Ukraine in two formats: firstly, through acts of nuclear terrorism against critical (nuclear) infrastructure facilities located in new territories under Russian sovereignty (primarily the Zaporozhye NPP), including both shelling and impact on personnel; secondly, through provocations to create a “dirty bomb”, the use of which in the war zone or in civilian areas is unlikely to lead to mass casualties, but will inevitably result in mass panic, catastrophic psychological impact, given that Kyiv would be highly tempted to attribute these actions to Russia, since attributing acts of nuclear and radiological terrorism in the context of an acute conflict can be a formidable task.

Turkey. There are no prospects for launching a military-applied nuclear program in Turkey. First of all, due to the fact that Turkey does not face threats of “nuclear size”. The military-political priorities of the current leadership rather dictate the need for further development of general-purpose forces, equipping them with the most modern conventional means of armed confrontation.

The transfer of nuclear ambitions to a military footing will further deepen contradictions with neighbors and alienation from the United States and other NATO allies, will lead to the diplomatic isolation of the country, and even economic sanctions. Given the dependence on foreign trade and the country’s deteriorating socio-economic situation, the Turkish leadership is hardly ready to take on such risks.

The existing technological potential is not enough for the development of Turkey’s nuclear program. The country lacks the most sensitive elements of the nuclear fuel cycle – uranium enrichment and spent nuclear fuel reprocessing. Given the current Additional Protocol, it is extremely unlikely that Ankara has the ability to create such an infrastructure quietly.

In addition, as mentioned above, the lack of effective means of delivery will not make it possible to quickly consolidate the successes achieved and, in fact, will lead to a manifold increase in pressure on the country.

Egypt. In the medium term, there are no prospects for launching a military nuclear program by Egypt. The existing nuclear infrastructure is insufficient for these purposes.

Currently, Egypt is not facing existential threats that would dictate the need for nuclear weapons. Relations with Israel, the only state in the region believed to possess nuclear weapons, are relatively smooth and pose no military threat. A military atom would not in any way contribute to the consolidation of Cairo as the leader of the Arab world – on the contrary, such a step would probably lead to further fragmentation of the countries of the Middle East, would push a new round of the arms race.

The ratio of benefits and costs from creating one’s own deterrence potential can change only as a result of the emergence of a nuclear potential in another power in the Middle East: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia. In this case, the Egyptian leadership will be forced to revise its nuclear policy under pressure from inside.

Saudi Arabia. In the coming years, the emergence of nuclear weapons in Saudi Arabia is unlikely. The country lacks or is at a low stage of development the infrastructure, technologies and personnel necessary to start a nuclear program of a military-applied nature. The information that such a program has taken place in the past is speculative and does not correspond to the available data on the stage of development of the nuclear infrastructure in KSA.

There is also no credible evidence that a political decision has been made on the need for such a program. Statements that we periodically hear from the highest political leadership about the need to create a nuclear arsenal in the event of the appearance of nuclear weapons in Iran should be seen as an attempt to draw US attention to the concerns of the kingdom regarding the Iranian nuclear program and its possible military dimension. Saudi nuclear policy appears to be rational, based on a sober analysis of the benefits and costs of acquiring a nuclear arsenal. There are currently no incentives to acquire a nuclear arsenal at any cost: the kingdom’s security is currently ensured by military-technical cooperation with the United States. In the event of a further reduction in the US presence in the Middle East, the diversification of military-technical ties with other security “providers” is likely.

The costs currently outweigh the possible incentives. The Kingdom is dependent on energy exports and technology imports: an attempt to start a military nuclear program will cause a wide international response and will lead to increased pressure from the international community. The possibility of imposing economic sanctions will ruin the plans of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to implement economic reforms and ensure the development of the kingdom on a new technological platform. This, in turn, will weaken his position in the internal political struggle.

As the nuclear energy program develops, the kingdom will be forced to move to more “binding” forms of interaction with the IAEA and abandon the Small Quantities Protocol. However, it cannot be ruled out that the KSA will be interested in maintaining uncertainty about its real capabilities and intentions. Therefore, the conclusion and ratification of the Additional Protocol seems unlikely in the medium term.

Iran has the technical capability to build nuclear weapons. At the same time, the assessments of the Iranian “threshold time” existing in the expert community, as a rule, sin with simplification and vary from three months to one and a half years. Such time calculations, as a rule, are based on mathematical modeling of the efficiency of centrifuges and do not take into account the subsequent set of works on the weaponization.

Even if you embrace data from the so-called “nuclear archive” presented by Prime Minister Netanyahu, as the truth, Iran, although it has some developments in the field of creating NEDs, will not be able to quickly create a NED design suitable for combat use.

The alarmists also do not take into account possible countermeasures by Iran’s opponents, including sabotage and targeted elimination of key scientists. The possibility of using some highly classified infrastructure raises doubts, given the active attention of foreign intelligence services to what is happening in the field of the Iranian atom.

The available data is not enough to conclude with a high degree of certainty that the Iranian leadership has made a political decision to abandon the exclusively peaceful nature of the nuclear program. The ups and downs around the JCPOA, Iran’s reduction of its obligations under the “deal”, however, blur the line between signs of “peace enforcement” and signs of the start of a military nuclear program. It is obvious that opposition to IAEA inspection activities fits into the logic of a response to US actions, and the strengthening of measures to protect nuclear physicists is due to the risks of sabotage.

There are no signs of forcing public opinion in favor of the nuclear option to justify the growing economic difficulties in the eyes of the population. There is no reliable data on the creation of some superstructures empowered to coordinate the implementation of a military-applied nuclear program.

Brazil. Although Brazil has the necessary technological backlog for a possible launch of a military nuclear program, there are no military-political prerequisites for this. The country does not face an existential threat that could require the creation of nuclear weapons. Brazil is already a leading regional power, and its army is among the ten strongest armies in the world.

The development of a nuclear program is associated with significant economic costs that the country cannot afford at the moment and in the near future. A nuclear program will also cause damage to the status positions of the country in the world.

Finally, the idea of creating nuclear weapons does not find unanimous support among the Brazilian elites, including the military, who are determined to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with the widest possible range of international actors.

Neither alarmists, nor ostriches

So: the emergence of new nuclear states on the political map of the world at the moment is not unthinkable, but unlikely. The existing deterrent factors: the stability of the NPT as an international norm, the vulnerability of potential “troublemakers” to economic sanctions, the high cost of full-fledged nuclear programs and the creation of appropriate delivery vehicles – are still enough to keep the mentioned states on the edge of the abyss.

As the reader could see from the squeeze of our country assessments, we do not belong to the alarmists. Because no solid reason for this was found during our study. But we also deny the pose of an ostrich. Pretending that “everything is calm” with the nuclear non-proliferation regime would not only be short-sighted. This would be fraught with an increase in vulnerability for Russian national interests: having relaxed, switching attention to other directions, we risk to have the ball… not on our side, but on our gates.

The growing interest of some states of the world in the military atom is a symptom of the crisis in the existing security architecture. The main source of tension is the United States, the attempts of the Western bloc of states to keep the rapidly crumbling Western-centric model of the world order by military force.

At the same time, it would be a mistake to reduce the degradation of the security situation only to US actions. And although American policy is the root cause of the growing instability, the reaction of states included in the US “proscription lists” is perceived as a threat.

There is a risk that, against the backdrop of a degrading environment, instead of looking for inclusive security solutions, the United States and its allies may switch to a “conditional proliferation” strategy, supplying sensitive nuclear technologies to allies in exchange for unconditional loyalty to the “party line”. An example of this approach is the tripartite military-technical alliance with Australia, under which Canberra is expected to receive nuclear submarines. And while Washington insists that this level of cooperation is only possible because Australia has demonstrated a high commitment to the nuclear nonproliferation regime, it is clear that other US allies can say the same about themselves. AUKUS is setting a dangerous precedent that Tokyo, Seoul, Brasilia would love to take advantage of.

Moreover, the role of US sanctions pressure as the main force restraining the spread of nuclear weapons raises concerns. If we allow the weakening of interest in maintaining the nonproliferation regime in Washington, this could lead to a surge of American clientele’s interest in nuclear weapons.

In this context, the inspection activities of the IAEA aimed at identifying undeclared nuclear programs are extremely important. The politicization of the system of guarantees and the double standards of their application in relation to Western and non-Western states represent particular risks here.

Table. The potential for the creation of nuclear weapons by the countries considered in the medium term. Source: compiled by the authors based on their own calculations (2022) [6].

Our analysis leads to the conclusion that Iran and South Korea are closest to the nuclear threshold, both in terms of technical capabilities and in terms of motivation. Iran already has some developments in the field of weaponization, which creates an extremely undesirable precedent for the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

And although South Korea has a less developed nuclear fuel cycle, one can see the desire of the South Korean elite for “small steps” towards “technical containment” – a situation in which the capabilities of the South Korean nuclear fuel cycle will at least not be inferior to those of Japan. In the field of delivery vehicles, Seoul is already ahead of Tokyo.

The above does not mean that these countries will acquire nuclear weapons. But such a policy seriously raises the stakes in the struggle for the survivability of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the NPT as its main supporting structure.

It must be understood that the policy of “small nuclear steps” is a symptom of the growing conflict in international affairs against the backdrop of the end of five hundred years of domination of the collective West in international relations. Under these conditions, attempts to patch up the crumbling US-centric security architecture are doomed to failure.

Don’t turn into Porthos

The formation of a new world order will take time. The transitional period will inevitably be accompanied by an increase in conflict and with the diffusion of military-technical potentials. From the point of view of Russia’s interests for the next 5-20 years, it is important to determine the following:

First, the desired image of the future (no matter how this cliché may impose on some of us), which would help form a circle of like-minded people around our interests, with whom we will jointly shape the military-political aspects of the future world order. Template criticism of the “rules-based world order” and references to the UN Charter and some fairer world order are not enough here. We need a concept that, as the character of Leonid Bronevoy said in Seventeen Moments of Spring, would not be a shame to believe;

Second, the transition risk limits. On the one hand, the diffusion of military-technical potentials is inevitable. You can turn it in your favor by strengthening military-technical cooperation with states with a heightened perception of security threats – including considered in this study. But are we ready for the fact that one or two more nuclear states will appear in the world as a result of this process? Does Russia need to keep non-proliferation at any cost and, if necessary, get involved in the next round of Russian-American cooperation on the Iranian or, say, South Korean dossier? This question requires careful thought.

Russia’s role now is to help build a new security architecture with a minimum number of dividing lines in regions where the risks of WMD proliferation are particularly high. In this context, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which has the necessary potential to become the core of a more stable, conflict-free world order in Eurasia, may turn out to be in demand.

No less important is the establishment of a dialogue with those who undermine the nuclear nonproliferation regime from within, the so-called anti-nuclear radicals – supporters of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The treaty itself (let us recall that, unlike a number of other agreements in the nuclear sphere, it is still in force) remains a thorn in the soft tissues of the nonproliferation regime. Its political effect is an additional split among the states parties to the NPT. The practical danger is the illusion of the possibility of withdrawing from the NPT.

Protesters call for a ban on nuclear weapons. Source: The United Nations

A serious flaw in the prohibition of nuclear weapons remains the issue of verification. Assuming that State N is only a member of the TPNW, it is not entirely clear on what legal basis the IAEA will be able to transfer its file to the UN Security Council in the event of a violation of obligations under the safeguards agreement. This requires appropriate legal calibration in the camp of anti-nuclear radicals. But it is not advisable to force it within the walls of the IAEA: the solution of this issue will only strengthen the positions of the supporters of the TPNW.

At the same time, the non-nuclear states pursuing radical disarmament approaches should be given a credit. They are right: the endless pumping of weapons into the conflict regions of the world, the reliance on military-technical means of ensuring national security is a dead end. Disarmament must return to the international agenda. The new strategic equation proposed by Russia to ensure a conflict-free environment in international relations is a step in the right direction.

In the Middle East, the demand for an equitable architecture of regional security is obvious. Back in the late 1990s in completely different geopolitical realities, Russia began to develop a concept for ensuring collective security in the Persian Gulf zone. The ideas set out in the document have been updated several times, acquiring a new, relevant sound in the current circumstances. The concept assumes gradual progress, based on equal interaction of all regional and other interested parties, towards unblocking conflict situations, developing confidence and control measures, and, ultimately, forming an integral mechanism of collective security and cooperation in this subregion with the creation of appropriate organizational structures. It means that such a system will become a prologue to the construction of a common post-crisis architecture of the Middle East region.

It will be necessary to build such a security architecture in the context of growing conflict in relations between Russia and the countries of the collective West, sometimes in the face of open and stubborn opposition from the United States and its allies. In these conditions, despite the nobility of thoughts, Russia is unlikely to cope with this undertaking alone. China is an obvious partner.

At the same time, it is necessary to understand that the new security architecture is much more difficult than the fight for everything good and against everything bad. Its construction will also require concessions from Russia and China, voluntary acceptance of restrictions. Only a readiness for self-restraint, confirmed by measures of transparency and trust, will convince our neighbors and partners of the seriousness of Moscow and Beijing’s intentions. Such self-restraint is especially important for China’s neighbors, who are wary of its growing global ambitions.

Not just one action, but a comprehensive, systematic set of steps “to get ahead of the curve” is the only key for Russian diplomacy so that “the legs do not weaken” and so that at some point you do not feel, like Porthos, the exorbitant weight of the burden: because, generally speaking, the international nuclear non-proliferation regime that has been created for decades with the active, often leading participation of the USSR (Russia), is not a burden for us. This is the solution. And the price of an error in case of illiterate assessments, in case of incorrectly taken (or not taken) steps will be too expensive for us. After all, all the countries of the potential nuclear nine that we are looking at – they (with the exception of one and only Brazil) – are all along the perimeter of our borders.

Read the original paper (in Russian)


References

[1] South Africa had its own nuclear weapons without being a party to the NPT; but voluntarily gave it up. North Korea has not formally completed all procedures for withdrawing from the NPT, although there is no doubt that it has nuclear weapons.

[2] Alexander M. Vasiliev, Alexandra S. Zubenko, Maxim P. Latz, Savva D. Nikulin, Inna V. Rodina, Larisa S. Savelyeva, Darya S. Heyrie, Leonid V. Tsukanov, Sofya S. Shestakova, Ana-Livia Esteves.

[3] Chuck Hagel, Malcolm Rifkind, Kevin Rudd, and Ivo Daalder. When Allies Go Nuclear: How to Prevent the Next Proliferation Threat // Foreign Affairs. February 12, 2021. URL: https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/2021-02-12/when-allies-go-nuclear

[4] See Ivo H. Daalder, Chuck Hagel, Malcolm Rifkind, and Kevin Rudd. Preventing Nuclear Proliferation and Reassuring America’s Allies // Chicago Council on Global Affairs. February 10, 2021. URL: http://www.thechicagocouncil.org/sites/default/files/2021-02/report_preventing-nuclear-proliferation-reassuring-americas-allies.pdf

[5] In 2019, at a meeting of the International Expert Council of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies Robert Einhorn presented a similar list. Of course, according to our estimates, the list of states with the necessary scientific and technical potential is wider than the “nine”. Among the “next in line” can be called the “five”: Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Algeria, and Argentina.

[6] The methodology and factual material substantiating these conclusions for each of the countries and territories is contained in the forthcoming PIR Center report “New Nuclear Nine? Assessing Nuclear Proliferation Threats in the World” (Moscow, “Ves Mir”, 2023. 223 p.). A short version of the report will be posted on the global scientific and educational platform of PIR Center www.nonproliferation.world. All conclusions are confirmed by mathematical calculations of the authors.

The article was prepared within the framework of the project “Global Security, Strategic Stability and Arms Control” (implemented jointly with the MGIMO-University as part of the Strategic Academic Leadership Program “Priority 2030”).

The authors are grateful to the member of the Advisory Board of PIR Center Alexander V. Fedorov, Head of the Department of History and Politics of Europe and America, MGIMO-University Lyudmila S. Okuneva, RISS senior expert Yulia V. Kryachkina, Research Fellow of the IMI MGIMO-University Adlan R. Margoev for valuable comments and remarks. Special thanks for valuable advice to Associate Professor of the Engineering Academy of RUDN University Sergey V. Ponamarev