And it could increase their ability to do so by

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Unformatted text preview: East to pursue nuclear weapons of their own. And it could increase their ability to do so by eroding the remaining barriers to nuclear proliferation: each additional state that acquires nuclear weapons weakens the nonproliferation regime, even if its particular method of acquisition only circumvents,rather than violates,the npt. n-player competition Were Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons , the Middle East would count three nuclear-armed states, and perhaps more before long. It is unclear how such an n-player competition would unfold because most analyses of nuclear deterrence are based on the U.S.Soviet rivalry during the Cold War.It seems likely,however,that the interaction among three or more nuclear-armed powers would be more prone to miscalculation and escalation than a bipolar competition. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union only needed to concern themselves with an attack from the other. Multipolar systems are generally considered to be less stable than bipolar systems because coalitions can shift quickly, upsetting the balance of power and creating incentives for an attack. More important, emerging nuclear powers in the Middle East might not take the costly steps necessary to preserve regional stability and avoid a nuclear exchange.For nuclear-armed states,the bedrock of deterrence is the knowledge that each side has a secure second-strike capability,so that no state can launch an attack with the expectation that it can wipe out its opponents’forces 10 Oil DDW 2012 1 and avoid a devastating retaliation. However, emerging nuclear powers might not invest in expensive but survivable capabilities such as hardened missile silos or submarinebased nuclear forces. Given this likely vulnerability, the close proximity of states in the Middle East,and the very short flight times of ballistic missiles in the region,any new nuclear powers might be compelled to “launch on warning” of an attack or even, during a crisis, to use their nuclear forces preemptively. Their governments might also delegate launch authority to lower-level commanders,heightening the possibility of miscalculation and escalation. Moreover, if early warning systems were not integrated into robust commandand-control systems, the risk of an unauthorized or accidental launch would increase further still.And without sophisticated early warning systems, a nuclear attack might be unattributable or attributed incorrectly. That is, assuming that the leadership of a targeted state survived a first strike ,it might not be able to accurately determine which nation was responsible.And this uncertainty, when combined with the pressure to respond quickly ,would create a significant risk that it would retaliate against the wrong party, potentially triggering a regional nuclear war. Most existing nuclear powers have taken steps to protect their nuclear weapons from unauthorized use:from closely screening key personnel to developing technical safety measures, such as permissive action links, which requ...
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