Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Het nieuwe atoomgevaar

BERLIJN – Als iemand die in 1948 geboren is was het gevaar van een nucleaire Derde Wereldoorlog een maar al te reëel onderdeel van mijn kindertijd. Die dreiging – of op zijn minst de dreiging dat Oost- en West-Duitsland beide geheel vernietigd zouden worden – bleef bestaan tot aan het einde van de Koude Oorlog en de ineenstorting van de Sovjet-Unie.

Sindsdien is het gevaar van supermachten met kernwapens die een nucleair Armageddon kunnen veroorzaken substantieel gereduceerd, doch niet geheel verdwenen. Vandaag de dag is het grotere gevaar dat steeds meer kleine landen geregeerd door instabiele of dictatoriele regimes kernwapens zullen proberen te bemachtigen. Door een kernmacht te worden kunnen dit soort regimes hun eigen overleving veiligstellen, hun lokale of regionale geopolitieke belangen bevorderen, en zelfs een expansionistische agenda najagen.

In deze nieuwe situatie is de ‘rationaliteit van de wederzijdse afschrikking’ zoals in stand gehouden door de Verenigde Staten en de Sovjet-Unie tijdens de Koude Oorlog geërodeerd. Als de huidige nucleaire proliferatie aanhoudt zal de lat voor het gebruik van kernwapens waarschijnlijk steeds lager komen te liggen.

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