(COURTESY OF CHEN XULONG)
Nuclear weapons changed the world of the 20th century. Their powerful force rewrote history.Chinese Version>>
Nuclear bombs dropped on Japan by the United States accelerated the collapse of Japanese militarism and hastened the end of World War II. The West led by the United States and the East bloc led by the Soviet Union started a bitter nuclear arms race that mutually assured destruction. The balance of terror between the two blocs stabilized in the Cold War and prevented the world from actual armed conflict, thus maintaining a long-term but occasionally uneasy peace in Europe and the world.
FLIGHT FOR PEACE: Doves are freed at an assembly at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on August 6, 2007 in memory of the victims of the dropping of the atom bomb on the city in World War II (REN ZHENGLAI)
Big countries with nuclear weapons strengthened their global influence and international status. Small countries with nuclear weapons changed their international security situations. Some countries constantly pursued nuclear dreams, while others sought the protection of the "nuclear umbrella" from nuclear powers. Floating on nuclear waves, the world was never calm.
After numerous conflicts, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) were produced to constitute an important cornerstone of nuclear non-proliferation.
But non-proliferation suffered severe challenges from time to time. The world's nuclear nightmare never lessened. In order to save the world from this nightmare, the campaign for nuclear disarmament made its way forward despite difficulties. All these left an indelible mark on international relations during the 20th century.
With the wish for peace, development and cooperation, we entered the 21st century. But the world is still not peaceful—and the nuclear shadow lingers. At the beginning of the 21st century, the September 11 terrorist attacks hit the United States and shocked the whole world. Anxiety spread over the combination of terrorism and nuclear weapons.
Currently, nine of the world's nations possess nuclear weapons and about 40 can extract highly enriched uranium. Disputes have constantly emerged in the nuclear issues of the North Korea and Iran. It is difficult to find a solution to them and the whole world is concerned.
Against this backdrop, the issue of nuclear security has become salient. Just as the Global Zero group said, nuclear weapons played a positive role in stabilizing the international situation during the Cold War, but today all the surplus value brought by nuclear weapons has been overshadowed by ever-growing nuclear proliferation and terrorist crises. The world is approaching a nuclear proliferation detonation point. Now the spread of nuclear weapons has gone beyond the strength meant to constrain them. The possibility of their use in state conflict, accidental events and terrorist organizations has increased.
As far as the United States is concerned, it might be terrorists or "rogue countries" that have moved or are going to move its cheese of nuclear security. In order to ensure its own security and strategic interests, the United States is also striving for changes. It plans to relocate the cheese.
U.S. President Barack Obama, of whose every pore was once regarded as emitting the scent of "change," tried to change the United States' original nuclear security and strategic concept soon after he took office. Based on antiterrorist goals, he tried to instill the dream of a nuclear-free world. And the whole world was about to be dragged into his dream all together.
Although the dream of a nuclear-free world had an obvious Obama color, it was a new American dream and had strategic ambitions. And it was pretty well-founded. Both conservatives and liberals gradually accepted the idea of Global Zero. It was the first time the two groups reached such an agreement on a nuclear-free world.