By Hui Zhang
Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School
The new defense white paper released by China on April 16 has sparked a debate over whether China is changing its nuclear policy, because this new paper, unlike previous editions, did not reiterate China’s long-standing no-first-use nuclear weapons doctrine. Is China changing its nuclear policy?
Colonel Yang Yujun, a spokesman of China’s Ministry of Defense, answered this question unambiguously during a briefing on April 25. Yang stated that “China repeatedly reaffirms that China has always pursued no-first-use nuclear weapons policy, upholds its nuclear strategy of self-defense, and never takes part in any form of nuclear arms race with any country. The policy has never been changed. The concern about changes of China’s nuclear policy is unnecessary.”
Colonel Yang further explained that this new white paper elaborates clearly the readiness level of the PLA Second Artillery Force (PLASAF) in peacetime and the conditions under which China would launch a resolute counterattack –if China comes under a nuclear attack. All these details, as Yang stated in the briefing, show exactly that “China is earnestly fulfilling its no-fist-use nuclear pledge.” Read more
We asked nuclear policy experts in Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs to summarize in one paragraph the achievements in the year since President Obama convened a summit on nuclear security on April 12-13, 2010. And we asked for a second paragraph on what needs to be done in the year before the follow-up summit planned for Seoul, South Korea.
Here are their replies:
Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
Since last April’s historic Global Nuclear Security Summit, there have been a series of positive steps towards preventing what President Obama called the “single biggest threat to U.S. security, short-term, medium-term, and long-term”: nuclear terrorism. From the elimination of more than half of Ukraine’s highly enriched uranium (HEU) stockpile to the safeguarding of more than 800 bombs’ worth of fissile material in Kazakhstan, states have made significant down payments on the president’s objective to secure the world’s most vulnerable fissile material by 2014. While these achievements should be celebrated, this is no time for a victory lap. We have only reached the end of the first quarter in a race against time to ensure the world’s most dangerous materials do not fall in the deadliest hands. Read more
By Joseph S. Nye
Last weekend, I chaired a panel at the Munich Security Conference on cyber security. This is the first time the venerable gathering has addressed the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed it, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague devoted nearly his whole speech to Britain’s new cyber strategy. Until recently, the issue of cyber security has largely been the domain of computer geeks and specialists. When the internet was created forty years ago, this small community was like a virtual village of people who knew each other, and they designed a system with little attention to security. Even the commercial Web is only two decades old. Security experts wrestling with cyber issues are at about the same stage in understanding the implications of this new technology as nuclear experts were in the early years after the first nuclear explosions. Read more
By Graham Allison
As a colleague who has been learning from Joe Nye for many years, I join the chorus applauding his latest in a string of pearls of wisdom about power in international affairs. The Future of Power is a must-read. Imaginatively, judiciously, Joe tours the horizon of current debates and offers thoughtful, policy-relevant advice.
From questions about the rise of China and decline of the U.S., to cybersecurity and changing metrics of power in 21st century international affairs, he advances the debate. (Read Joseph Nye’s inaugural Power & Policy blog post)
With so much to agree with, what’s to disagree? While my major difference is more one of emphasis than fundamentals, let me overstate it for the sake of clarity. Consider the core question: what is the single biggest threat to American power today? Read more