The energy and enthusiasm generated by President Obama’s commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons has cooled substantially, a change reflected at the latest Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference, which ended with no final resolution or document. This latest failure feeds a generalized anxiety about the decline of the Nonproliferation Regime, a sense that an accumulation of small failures will lead to a tipping point after which the regime will no longer be able to play a role in generating the stable expectations that keep it politically meaningful.
Strategic stability emerged as a concept in the Cold War realities of the U.S.-Soviet nuclear stand-off, concentrating on avoidance of an all-out nuclear war break-out during a crisis. In an era of profound interdependence, it was recognized a key to maintaining security and peace among nuclear armed nations being opponents or foes.
The Open Skies treaty is an agreement between 34 states in the Euro-Atlantic region providing for mutual aerial overflights of their sovereign territories, without restrictions on access. During an overflight, representatives of observer nations —in cooperation with representatives of the observed nation—photograph military-significant objects. This imagery is then pooled into a common data bank accessible to all treaty signatories, allowing them to observe the overflown states’ force posture and military infrastructure.
Based on an analysis of Chinese leaders’ speeches, official statements, and defense white papers published by Chinese government, my paper identifies some key elements of China’s nuclear doctrine as follows: (1) nuclear weapons as