This is my first GD thread and, on reflection, perhaps it is a little ambitious, but we’ll see…
I would be interested to know how you think the world would respond to the situations described below. The idea is to create the potential for a major change in the balance of power, or the semblance thereof, which could result in one or more countries which have not already done so revealing their nuclear arsenal or even some level of disarmament.
I have developed the technology for and produced a new type of weapon. It is capable of destroying most artefacts without affecting living organisms. For the sake of argument it destroys only metallic structures, including weapons, computers, communication systems etc. It is light and has reasonable power requirements so that it could be delivered stealthily using a long-range missile or as a bomb and its effective radius can be set up to 5 km. It is much cheaper to produce than a nuclear weapon, but the technology is far beyond that in development by any military or civil research organisation - i.e. it could not be rediscovered independently in the foreseeable future. The weapon is reliable.
I do not contact any governments or militaries. Instead, I contact the scientific community and the media. I successfully demonstrate the weapon to the world and its capabilities are verified by scientists. Further demonstrations are available to countries on request.
Next I say that I want to use this technology to cause nuclear disarmament. As such I offer it for free, and assistance as required to develop the capability to produce functioning weapons, to any country currently in possession of nuclear weapons once it has disarmed.
This offer is only available now. All countries have one week to register their intention to prove their nuclear capability. If a country does not register in that period, it will never be entitled to receive the technology, and the technology will not be made available otherwise.
After registration a country has 1 month to provide proof. To prove nuclear capability a country must display a nuclear warhead to the world and this warhead will then be dismantled under controlled conditions by a UN team to ensure that it was capable of producing a nuclear explosion.
A country which has proved its nuclear capability then has unlimited time to disarm. Disarmament will be policed by the UN who will declare when a country no longer has nuclear weapons. This will be done correctly and efficiently (no Iraq debates).
As soon as a country is disarmed, the technology transfer will begin. The weapon will be in mass production in around a year with my team’s help, regardless of the country it is being given to.
I keep my word and never make the technology available by other means. However, espionage may result in its spread.
Same as situation 1, but the weapon is not stealthy. Bombs can be found easily and disarmed. While missiles would be easily detected from a great distance and existing interception systems and aircraft able to destroy some of them, some would reach their target. However, due to their large and controllable effective radius, these weapons could destroy each other easily when in the air without affecting objects on the ground.
Two countries both in possession of the new technology could not effectively use it against each other.
Once the all possible disarmament has been achieved, I make the technology freely available to the world - I lied.
Same process as situation 1, but the technology is a complete bluff. Under the greatest secrecy, major media agencies, scientists and scientific publications are approached and persuaded to go along with the idea for the greater good. The plan is not leaked.
The demonstration is faked but the scientists still testify as to the weapon’s capabilities. Special effects and some real science is used to prepare a live demonstration for any countries asking for further evidence. I hope that it is good enough to prevent any government scientists declaring the weapon a fake before the week is up.
If such a weapon were real and had the capabilities described, it would be more capable than a nuclear weapon. But would nuclear weapons still be a deterrent against its use? If a country could detect nuclear missiles, it could use the new weapon to destroy them, but such detection may not be reliable. However, a first strike with the new weapon could prevent a country deploying nukes. Also, would it be right to respond in such a way to an attack which has caused major damage to a country, but not killed its people? Corrupt regimes could use the new weapon and risk a nuclear response, after which they could take a moral high ground.
I think this first situation would very much destabilise the world. Countries without nukes would cry foul. Smaller countries with nukes may have to disarm and obtain the new technology to ensure that they do not lose a massive advantage to their hostile neighbours. But if a country does not have nuclear weapons and its neighbour does, then it could be at great risk from the new technology, as it is far more likely to be used than a nuclear weapon. America and Russia almost certainly would not disarm, as they could obtain the technology sooner by espionage.
This changes the dynamics a bit. Once the technology has spread throughout the world - as I will ensure it does - it cancels itself out. The goal is to achieve any disarmament in the meantime. Hence, there is no long term destabilisation. The short term effects are just as uncertain, but some disarmament is still a possibility.
I cannot think of a decent strategy or modification to the situation that would ensure that abuse in the short term is unlikely. Any ideas?
How good is the bluff? Getting a country which currently does not admit to having nuclear weapons to register in the first week would be of benefit by itself. Getting a country to disarm one nuclear weapon in the proof phase would also be of benefit.
Even with only a week to disprove it, I don’t think a complete bluff could be fully pulled of with current technology. Perhaps developed countries could get together a capable team and equipment to observe the demonstration and disprove it in a week, but the less developed ones could not. If one country can prove the technology a fake, however, it may choose not to tell everyone else.
So, any ideas on these situations, possible power changes which could cause disarmament or the possibility of bluffing major world governments?