Nuclear Deterrence, Canberra Times, Oct 4, 2017

Nuclear deterrence

Tom Switzer, in his criticism of the newly adopted UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Letters, October2), undermines his own argument that “nuclear deterrence” helps keep us safe.

In relation to North Korea, Switzer states “there are growing fears that an accident or miscalculation could lead to nuclear war”. Precisely.

We are being brought to the brink of nuclear annihilation by these instruments of terror. Nuclear deterrence theory tells us that leaders will always – 100per cent of the time – be wise and rational, and therefore would not engage in any steps that could end in “mutually assured destruction”.

This might be OK in a perfect world where there is no human or technical error, but not in the real world where there is confusion and miscalculation, especially in a crisis.

Switzer is right, however, that North Korea must be brought in from the diplomatic cold.

After all, Kim Jong-un is not the only leader that regularly flouts international rules and norms.

Australia manages a far-too-cosy relationship with another such leader.

Sue Wareham, Medical Association for Prevention of War, Cook