Zero is the Wrong Number

World Policy Journal, Fall 2009

9 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2013

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: Fall 2009


President Obama’s focus on further reducing the number of strategic weapons of Russia and the US, with the ultimate goal of zeroing out such arms, reflects Cold War priorities. Such a reduction will not lead other nations — such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea — to follow suit. The main priorities ought to be place where terrorists may gain nuclear arms, in particular Pakistan, or materials to make bombs, especially in Russia (not from strategic arms, but from fissible material) and the many tactical bombs not covered by the U.S.-Russia START treaty. And from rogue states such as North Korea and possibly Iran.

Also note that the "disarmed" warheads are merely stored and not dismantled. Last but not least, if we ever approached zero, the IR system would become particularly unstable.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, Zero is the Wrong Number (Fall 2009). World Policy Journal, Fall 2009. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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