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Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Policy Brief  No.188 - April, 2024 • By Sverre Lodgaard

Policy Brief No.188: Preparations for Nuclear War-Fighting and the Demise of Arms Control

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This Policy Brief examines nuclear war-fighting preparations and asks whether tensions can be ameliorated by risk reduction and confidence-building measures. Arms control used to be based on an assumption of stabilization of big power relations in order to avoid a war that nobody wants. Today revisionist powers in Europe and East Asia defy stability, and in the US and Russia war-fighting preparations include nuclear as well as conventional and other means, especially at theatre level. China may be moving in the same direction, but there is not enough evidence to say so with certainty. US–China relations are facing the Thucydides trap, and the triangular politics of the three leading nuclear powers is inherently unstable. Except for the Cuban Missile Crisis and the critical state of US–Soviet relations around 1980, the present world is more dangerous than it has ever been in the nuclear age.

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