Nuclear weapons: what do?

This premise is simple: we have nuclear weapons. “We” refers both to humanity as a whole, and America specifically, and I welcome answers in either context.

Some example questions:

  • What should be done with them?
  • Should we produce more?
  • How much R&D should go to refining / improving existing stockpiles?
  • How should we regulate nuclear weapons? This includes everything from private regulation (the infamous “should a citizen be able to buy a nuke” question) to domestic policy to international agreements on their production, accessibility, and use.
  • Who or what should have the authority to use a nuclear weapon, and under what circumstances?

Some example statements to get your take on:

  • “Nuclear weapons should be universally banned; all existing weapons should be destroyed immediately and no further weapons should be produced.”
  • “Nuclear weapons are why we have not had a global war since WW2.”
  • “Nuclear weapons should never be used for military purposes, but can be manufactured and used for industrial purposes (e.g. terraforming Mars).”
  • “While nations can maintain their own stockpiles, the total global stockpile should not be enough to risk humanity’s extinction no matter how they’re used.”
  • “Nuclear weapons and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) are currently the only/best way for us to maintain relative peace on Earth, or at least peace between major nuclear powers.”
  • “Frequent conventional wars in a world without access to nuclear weapons (e.g. a WW2-scale conflict every 30-50 years or so) is preferable to a relatively peaceful world with access to nuclear weapons (e.g. conflicts in our current real world).”
  • “If any one country has a stockpile of nuclear weapons, then every other country has a de facto right to develop and stockpile their own nuclear weapons.”

Lastly, if you’ve read this far, I’d like you to consider a few scenarios; specifically, if these occurred, how would your opinions on the previous questions/statements change?

  • An American nuclear warhead on a Minuteman ICBM accidentally detonates in its silo near Little Rock, Arkansas, irradiating a large portion of the state and causing hundreds of thousands of American deaths. The cause was unambiguously a freak accident, a 1 in a 1,000,000,000 chance, and no one can reasonably be held responsible for the tragedy.
  • During a small-scale conventional proxy war (e.g. Korean War, but during present times), the global power supporting the “other side” uses a small-yield tactical nuke against our proxy ally to win a decisive victory and force their surrender. The US condemns the move but does not use a nuclear weapon in retaliation, fearing MAD.
  • A US territory (e.g. Guam – somewhere remote and relatively low-population) is annihilated by a nuclear weapon; terrorists claim responsibility for the attack and attempt to force the US to meet their demands or else they’ll nuke a large city on the mainland; however they are neutralized and their remaining weapons confiscated before they can do so.
  • A whistleblower / leak reveals that the US cannot account for one of its nuclear weapons and suspects it may be in the hands of a terrorist group or foreign power that previously did not have access to such technology (i.e. the plot to “The Sum of All Fears”). The weapon is at large and remains unaccounted for, and no one has claimed responsibility for its theft.

submitted by /u/Option2401
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