During the Cold War, the threat of global nuclear armageddon was a core issue within the theory and practice of International Relations. From Mutually Assured Destruction to unilateral nuclear disarmament, debates were vigorous and contested, being predicated by the very real fears of nuclear destruction by accident or design. In 2017, the United Nations opened for signature an international treaty making the possession of nuclear weapons illegal. At the same time, the Democratic People's' Republic of Korea threatens the US and its regional allies with nuclear attack and the US Government threatens immediate nuclear retaliation - and hints at pre-emptive military action. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists ('The Doomsday Clock') records the current threat at two and half minutes to midnight (i.e. global destruction), the closest it has been since 1953. This seminar will address key questions such as; what are the prospects for nuclear armageddon? What are the real-world implications of a nuclear weapons' exchange between North Korea and the United States and what is the appropriate public policy response to these threats?
Ben Tonra is Full Professor of International Relations at the UCD School of Politics and International Relations. At UCD he teaches, researches and publishes in European foreign, security and defence policy, Irish foreign and security policy and International Relations theory. Ben has served as chair of the Royal Irish Academy's Standing Committee on International Affairs and is a co-leader of a research programme in EU security and defence policy at the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA), Dublin. He worked previously at the Department of International Politics, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Washington DC., and at Trinity College Dublin.