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A world without the NPT

uk 75

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Back in the 1960s it was feared that by the 1970s up to 30 States would acquire nuclear weapons.
The 1968 Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
is rightly regarded as having helped avoid this happening.
Britain and France's keenness to have nuclear weapons is usually seen in the context of the Soviet Union. But in a world where 20 to 30 countries have nuclear weapons the UK and French deterrents make even more sense.
For the UK Egypt and Indonesia come to mind as nuclear headaches. Nasser's Egypt was hostile to the Gulf Rulers who Britain backed. Indonesia confronted Malaysia and Singapore but also might threaten Australia.
A nuclear armed Argentina would be a much bigger risk to British interests in the South Atlantic.
Even in Africa the Apartheid South Africa might face nuclear armed neighbours. As it was, it was SA that built nuclear weapons.
A world in the 1970s without NPT would have been a much nastier place.
The Shah's Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey were all possible nuclear nations.
A 1973 Arab Israel war or Iran takeover of the Gulf with a nuclear dimension does not bear thinking about.
 

Archibald

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That was integral part of 2001 the novel background: Clarke had 38 nuclear powers in a rather unstable and dangerous world, including the Chineses - "vintage 1966 whacky maoists" rather than "the equally threatening, but turned half capitalist greedy pigs", present-day chinese.
As if 38 nuclear powers weren't enough, the Chinese were selling "off the shelves" nuclear deterrents, 250 million dollars a piece, with advantageous credits / loan / rates.
curiously enough, Clarke added these "black friday nuke sales" might be related to the chinese having found even more powerful weapons than plain old nukes "including blackmail with a plague only them had the antidote" (COVID from Wuhan lab, is that THOU ?)
 

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