U.S. Meeting Post-Cold War Threats to Nuclear Security
The threat to nuclear security after the end of the Cold War can be seen divided between the heritages of the fallen Soviet Union through the newly found states that inherited nuclear weapons, and the states that took an active role in the development of their own nuclear weapons. In the first case, Russia and Ukraine became custodians of a large arsenal of nuclear weapons, which became a serious issue not only to American and European leaders but also to the leader of the new state of Russia, Boris Yeltsin.
In that regard, the United States decided to contain such nuclear power through financial aid, which Russia was in desperate need of after the fall of the Soviet Union. In order to address the threats of post-Cold War to nuclear security, it was in the interest of the United States that Russia should grow economically and become politically stable. Thus, Russia received economical assistance as long as the money was used effectively.
The effectiveness of using the economic assistance in such a case implied that Russia will remove the weapons of the states-republics that formed the former Soviet Union. The United States relied on Yeltsin in such aspects and spent almost “$3 billion between 1992 and 1999 to “denuclearize” Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine and to remove other weapons of mass destruction from across the former Soviet Union. Such denuclearization partially explained the reason the US-supported Yeltsin through his whole presidential period, restraining from criticizing his actions and decisions, and believing that only he can prevent selling nuclear weapons to those who pay the highest prices. Such fear was highly justified as the nearest economies were in a bad shape, and selling weapons was perceived as an attractive opportunity for many of them.
The threats to nuclear security in other regions were addressed through a combination of measures varying between providing benefits for abandoning nuclear programs and imposing diplomatic and economic sanctions. In North Korea, which refused inspection of its nuclear sites, the agreement reached for such inspection as well as a freeze of the nuclear program was made possible through an “Agreed Framework”, which outlined that the United States, Japan, and South Korea will make concessions to North Korea. The latter included the construction of two modern reactors with estimated costs of $4 billion, “in return for inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the eventual dismantling and removal of North Korea’s nuclear facilities and associated materials”.
In countries such as Iraq, Iran, and Libya, the threats were contained through economic sanctions, which were imposed also for security reasons other than nuclear threats as well. In Iraq, diplomatic and economic sanctions were imposed along with trade embargos, after suspicions of using chemical and biological weapons against Kurdish tribes. Iran, similar to Iraq, remained in the role of adversaries of the United States, against which economic sanctions were employed. The policy of isolation toward Iran is still among the goals of the National Security of the United States, which is evident through Obama’s strategy in that regard.
The integration of Iran into the international community, just as North Korea, relies on the denuclearization and the prevention of the development of nuclear weapons. Thus, it can be concluded that the US effectively managed to address the threats to nuclear security through economic assistance mutual concessions, and economic sanctions, all of which proved successful in containing such threats.