North Korea’s nuclear build-up continues. Vladimir Putin announced on March 1 that Russia had developed new nuclear weapons—an announcement timed, no doubt, to one-up the US Nuclear Posture Review, which was released in February. Amid developments such as these, some observers worry that nuclear weapons are back, big time.
The truth is that they never really left. Yes, total stockpile numbers have come way down from their Cold War high. But the strategic rationale for retaining nuclear weapons remains. That’s unlikely to change any time soon—so what can realistically be done to stop nuclear wars before they start?