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A troubling lesson from Libya: Don't give up nukes

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Their collective experience and the perceived frailties of those states not possessing the bomb eventually created the following narrative: Nuclear weapons provide security to states while the lack of them leaves a country vulnerable.

In this setting, two diametrically opposing trends were born. The first was driven by states that viewed their circumstances as so perilous that the only alleviating factor would be acquiring the bomb.

The second was the goal of states either already possessing nuclear weapons or firmly protected in a larger security organization (e.g., NATO) to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.

To fuse the gap between the "security haves" and "have nots," the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was born in 1970. It encouraged the nuclear countries to provide have-nots with expertise and infrastructure to exploit peaceful nuclear technology. The ultimate goal was full disarmament for all. But the nuclear-weapon states never disarmed while the security circumstances for the nonnuclear states remained. A few countries, namely Israel, India, and Pakistan, stayed out of the NPT to pursue weapons programs of their own. Others decided to flirt with "nuclear latency" – having all the ingredients and infrastructure of making weapons, yet not possession.

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