by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
[U]ntil the official nuclearization of North Korea in 2006, the nuclear club remained small (eight nations) and was thought to be manageable. Why?
First, those nuclear countries that were relatively transparent and democratic (Britain, France, India, Israel, and the United States) were deemed unlikely to start a nuclear war.
Second, the advanced but autocratic nuclear nations (China and Russia) were thought to have too much at stake in globalized trade and national prosperity ever to start a lose/lose nuclear war.
Third, any unstable rogue nuclear nation (Pakistan) was assumed to be deterred and held in check by a nearby nuclear rival (India).
The nuclear capability of dictatorial North Korea (and likely soon, theocratic Iran) poses novel dangers far beyond the simple arithmetic of “the more nuclear nations, the more likely a nuclear war.”
Neither North Korea nor Iran is democratic. Neither is a stable country.
Neither has an immediate nuclear rival that can deter and persuade it not to dare use a nuclear weapon. Both started nuclear programs in secret. Both hate the United States and its allies.