In the modern age, the importance of nuclear weapons is even greater than that of the bipolar factor. Bipolarity appears to be losing ground since China has emerged as a power and that too on the basis of her possession of nuclear weapons. India has exploded the first nuclear device on May 18, 1974.

She has professed peaceful aims. Still India has posed to be a rival of China in Asia and Africa. The emergence of China was acknowledged by the United States when President Nixon went to China to seek their hand of friendship.

The China policy pursued by President Nixon has been carried on by the successive American Presidents. And today under President Reagan, they are so near each other as could never be.

Not only that, China has become a centre of pilgrimage for every nation of the modern world. If the rise of additional nuclear powers takes place, the world may witness the return of multi polar system which disintegrated as a result of the Second World-War.


Nuclear Deterrence. Nuclear weapons have made modern age as an age of overkill. It is on account of the danger of expansion of the nuclear club in modern days that Hans Morgenthau has called the first decade of the atomic era “a kind of golden age”. It was because the atomic stalemate during the period has been able to preserve at least an uneasy peace.

This has brought about mutual deterrence, meaning purely that an enemy will be deterred (checked) from attacking only if the response is too horrible to contemplate. And, none can deny the fact that peace in the world of today is only due to this deterrence.

To begin with, only the United States enjoyed the monopoly of nuclear weapons until 1949. Sir Winston Churchill regarded it as a chief deterrent to Soviet aggression. But on September 23, 1949 all the Western complacency was broken when President ‘Truman announced that Russia had recently exploded her first atomic bomb.

Since then, the big nations of the world have entered into a mad race for the possession of nuclear weapons.


The United States of America, the U.S.S.R.. France, Great Britain, China are the members of the Nuclear Club. The latest nuclear weapons are very destructive, much more than the first atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

In fact, the total destructiveness of nuclear weapons has changed the character of International Relations. The total destructiveness has made the present period as the “age of over-kill.”

The invention of nuclear powered sub-marines has added new dimensions to the destruction that can be caused in sea. The nuclear- powered dropping of bombs from warplanes means raining of hell over earth- President Kennedy said some 23 years back that more than 300 million people will be wiped out in a nuclear war lasting for less than at hour.

But what will happen now, is beyond the imagination of any. Dr. Einstein said in this respect that “I do not know the weapons -with which the World War-Ill will be fought, but I can assure you that World War-IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”


This shows the extent to which new discoveries of destruction may be possible. It is on account of this over-kill potentiality of nuclear weapons that no nation dare another.

War as an Instrument of Classical National Policy. The classical system of world politics was based on power and its use. Power occupied the central position in the system and nations were always eager to acquire power and to increase it.

The aim of a State was not only to get power but also to prevent enemies and competitors from acquiring or increasing it. Thus classical world relations were perspective, competitive, hostile and enemy-based.

The classical system took the world to be composed of nation-States, possessed of national sovereignty. It was based on the idea that sovereignty must be defended at any cost from those nation-States that challenge it or threaten to diminish it.


To guard their sovereignty and serve their national interests, nations enter into a alliances. The classical system of alliances is balance of power. The ultimate means for the acquisition, maintenance and increase of power is war.

War is thus considered an instrument of national policy. It is war which finally determines everything.

Nuclear Weapons have posed a Dilemma in International Relations. The over-kill potentiality of our age has brought a change in the efficiency of this decisive principle. Now, the policy-makers find it difficult to decide whether or not to use force to save their national interest.

This has been termed as dilemma in International Relations by Appadorai. The use of force may run the risk of nuclear war leading to total destruction. But to refrain from using force may also subjugate a nation to injustice.


It was in 1962 that a showdown between U.S. and Soviet Union seemed imminent over Cuba but the latter soon withdrew its atomic war-heads from the Caribbean Sea because it was told by the former that if the Soviet Union did not dismantle them, the U.S. would also use nuclear weapons, which meant total destruction.

In the Korean War, when China joined on the side of North Korea, General M C Arthur, the Fair East Commander of the United States suggested bombing of the Chinese mainland. But President Truman did not endorse this suggestion because it involved the risk of nuclear war between Russia and America.

Truman writes in his Memoirs : ‘”General Mac Arthur was ready to risk general war was not.”

As a result of futility of war as an instrument of national policy due to the over-kill potentiality of nuclear weapons, a kind of stable order has appeared at the international stage.


Both the super-powers have managed to avoid direct confrontation on account of the fear of total destruction. This fear is based on the fact that both the powers have almost equal striking capacity.

This has deterred both the powers from becoming adven­turous and made direct clash between them virtually impossible.

In this way, the nuclear weapons have helped in avoiding the outbreak of a major war which mankind has tried without any success since 1918 by inventing various devices such as treaties, international agreements and organisa­tions.

So, nuclear weapons which are considered dangerous and cause of war, have helped in deterrence.

Deterrence System:

Deterrence refers to two sorts of things. First, it refers to a policy. Secondly, it refers to a situation. As a policy, deterrence means a calculated attempt to induce an enemy to do something or refrain from doing something by threatening a penalty for non-compli­ance.

As a situation, deterrence refers to a position where conflict if contained within a boundary of threats which are neither executed nor tested. Threat no longer remains a threat if it is executed. Moreover, if it is tested and not executed, it no longer serves the purpose of deterrence.

The deterrence system has a few clear-cut assumptions and condi­tions which must exist to enable the system to function.

They are:

1. It must believe that the enemy does not attach so great an impor­tance to the goals determining this action so that he ignores the threats. There is a scope for the adjustment of threat within the framework of the set goals.

2. There must also exist channels of communication between the adversaries, otherwise a threat has got no significance. Communication does not, however refer to a formal system of channels of transmission. It only means that threats may be conveyed through gestures, demonstra­tions and so on.

3. The deterred should actually be in possession of means of doing injury to his enemy. Not only that, he must convey the possession of those means effectively to his enemy.

4. Both the parties should be certain about the impact of the threat and of the expected response. Only this will help make the threat credible.

5. Deterrence refers to a conflict of interests. Each party wants the other to act in a way which the other regards contrary to his own interests. In the absence of threat, he would have acted for his own benefit.

In case of threat, the deterred must realise that the loss faced by him is much less than what it would be in case he defies the deterrence. So, the threatened must also realise that he will have to suffer less if his threat fails to work.

6. Deterrence is a system of two-way threats. ‘The threaten must have means to appear in a position to impose and apply threat. On the other hand, the threatened must be in a position to ignore the threat by virtue of the means at his disposal.

Effectiveness of Deterrence:

The advent of nuclear weapons has in this way reduced the importance of war as an instrument of national policy in the modern age. To try to avoid war is also a sort of dilemma in International Relations.

India wanted to avoid war with Pakistan over the Bangladesh issue but the matters headed at such a speed that no other alternative could be found helpful.

The Indo-Pak war also stood at the verge of an all out war when America directed ‘Enterprise part of the Seventh Fleet, to stand to orders to evacuate retreating Pakistani forces or armaments from Bangladesh.

The failure of the U.S. A. in the Vietnam in spite of heaviest ever bombing operations has proved the futility of war as an instrument of national power.

Have the Nuclear Weapons eradicated War ? Certain philosophers like Blacket hold that the development of nuclear weapons has abo­lished total war. But it is not correct.

Firstly, there are some who do not consider that nuclear war would bring total destruction of mankind.

A Chinese leader, Peng said on August 22, 1956. “America possesses atomic weapons and is threatening us with them- But we are not afraid of atomic warfare. Why ? Because China has 600 million people.

Even if 200 million people were killed by atomic weapons, 400 million people would still survive. Even if 400 million people were killed, 200 million people would still survive.

Even if 200 million survived, China would still constitute a big country of the world- Furthermore, these two hundred million people will absolutely not surrender. Therefore, at the end America will lose the war.”

Even Mao- Tse Tung said in 1955 that China does not fear war and that even a nuclear war will not mean total destruction.

Even some Americans like Herman Kahn believe that U.S. can win even nuclear war and that American civilization can emerge as a victorious civilisation. It is also in the air that scientists are busy in developing shelters against nuclear war.

Moreover, the invention of more dreadful weapons affects the psychology of the people about the possibility of war.

Secondly, the possibility of war by accident can also not be ruled out. The mad act of war-monger may tiger war any moment. “Armaments make war not only physically possible but also politically probable.”

It is natural that a nation possessing big military strength can rarely avoid the ultimate loss of self-restraint.

That is why scholars like Quincy Wright and Hans Morgenthau and philosophers like Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein have warned against the dangerous belief that an all-out war has become impossible.

Thirdly, philosophers hold that men don’t fight because they have arms, but that they consider if necessary to fight. Even if their arms were taken away, they will either with their bare frits.

What makes for war is the condition of mind- War is a mental disease and the possession of arms is only a symptom.

So long as struggle in the international sphere continues to dominate each-other and to take away each-other’s posses­sion, and so long as there is the element of fear, hate and suspicion, nations will try to satisfy their desires through war.

In case they find out some method for the realization of their end, they can avoid war as a society of sovereign nation. States, there appears to be no other alternative to war.


So, what we can conclude is that the impact of nuclear weapons on International Relations though undoubtedly great, is not total.

All the same, the total destructiveness of modern weapons has deterred war in the foreseeable future but has not abolished war. The fact remains that the concept of nation-State still continues to function and is likely to continue in the foreseeable future.

The balance of power continues to dominate the international scene, though in the shape of balance of terror, as stated by Churchill.

The problems like Berlin, Kashmir and Palestine continue to haunt the brains of the world without success because the use of force has the potential of leading to a nuclear war.