Khalid Iqbal President Barack Obamas proclamation in Prague over a year ago, to embark upon a campaign to achieve worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons was quite refreshing; though it attracted wide scepticism. The world would, indeed, be a much safer place sans nuclear weapons. America has since then pursued the objective with vigour. Owing to the prevalent world order, the US is, certainly, in a unique position to underwrite this kind of an initiative. In this context, America set the dice rolling through its Nuclear Posture Review 2010, which embodies wide ranging initiatives with far-reaching implications. Most of these steps are aimed at demonstrating intent of nuclear restraint. Decisions of no further testing, non-development of new missiles and not to mate the missiles with multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) would significantly scale down American nuclear prowess, as under this configuration one missile could engage only one target. As an implication, Missile Defence Shield would be more effective against such single warhead missiles. Though NPR is an internal matter of the US, without any interstate implications, it would radiate a positive American mindset, and hence serve as a confidence building measure for other countries. Besides, one of the major milestones moving on track is the UN nuclear fuel bank which would be ready by December this year operating at 30 percent of the projected 120 tones of low enriched uranium (LEU). This IAEA supervised facility in Siberian city of Angarsk, Russia, would offer nuclear fuel to the countries wishing to produce nuclear power. And would plug a hole leading to vertical proliferation in the form of enriching uranium to weapon grade, in the garb of enriching for peaceful application. Yet, another refreshing event is signing of the Nuclear Arms Treaty in Prague, by the presidents of the US and Russia. As a result of this agreement, the world would have 1,300 lesser nukes by 2017. This is a 30 percent slashing of the 2,200 figure set earlier in the Moscow Treaty of 2002. Of these, only half would be deployed. Moreover, the number of launchers has been limited to 800 for each side. This slashing down would only be applicable to long range missiles. Indeed, this is a major concession to the US by Russia; whereby about 200 American tactical missiles deployed in Western Europe would stay in tact. Missile Defence Shield continues to be a contentious issue for which both side would engage in negotiations in future. This, certainly, is a paradigm departure from the previous American track record. Earlier a number of non-proliferation initiatives, even in the post cold war era, ended up as non-starters due to covert or overt obstreperous mindset of the United States. Even the current approach to global zero carries some glaring contradictions, which must be managed for ensuing success of the initiative. Nonetheless, these non-proliferation related measures would provide a refreshing environment for the Nuclear Security Summit, where about 40 heads of government would be postulating on ways and means to enhance nuclear security. However, a caution is due; NSS would be a far more complicated venue to handle. Today, regional dynamics are far different from the post cold war US-Russian relations. Regions having nuclear or threshold capabilities harbour an environment of inter-state tension. Some of these countries have faced existential threats from their regional neighbours. Such perceptions have deep-rooted historic groundings and cannot just be wished away. The first issue that needs settlement is the status of missile defence shield. Any wide-ranging Russian concessions to America in the context of missile defence development would indicate that Russia has reconciled itself with the fait accompli of a second rate nuclear power. Parity of warheads with missile shield advantage going to America would mean that effectiveness of Russian missiles would be far less than American ones. Technological inferiority of Russian nukes, slowly sliding down to vintage category, would further accentuate the balance in favour of America. Apart from the US-Russia dynamics, defensive missile shields would have implications at regional levels as well, in the context of encouraging arms race, resulting in nuclear proliferation. Further, retention of a credible missile defence system for Europe, on the pretext of Iranian threat arising out of its anticipated development of nuclear weapons is not a convincing proposition. At best Iran is a potential nuclear weapon state, with hardly any worthwhile capability to harm Europe. Overplaying Iranian capability to justify the defensive shield could tarnish an otherwise promising initiative. The threat perception of Iran needs to be taken care of with due empathy and ways and means should be evolved to address these concerns. An offer of irrevocable provision of negative assurances involving a missile shield protection could lessen its anxiety. This proposal alongside concrete offers to the accessibility of nuclear fuel and associated infrastructure to meet all peaceful nuclear application requirements would gradually sway Iran away from its military oriented nuclear programme, if at all it has one. Keeping in view the Russian and Chinese approach on the issue, any bulldozing of sanctions by America would only stiffen Iranian attitude further and strengthen its resolve not to give in to pressures. Likewise, a nuclear Israel would continue to remain a potential catalyst for nuclear proliferation in the entire Middle East region. There is a need to bring Israel out of a policy of strategic silence over its nuclear assets and ambiguity over its nuclear doctrine, so that one could quantify the threat which these assets could pose, as well as figure out its potential targets. This would demystify the de facto nuclear environment functional in that region, at least since Yom Kipper days. Historically, the major causes of proliferation have been three. Firstly, the permanent members of UNSC acquired the status of nuclear weapon states as a symbol of pride and as a compulsion of cold war dynamics. Secondly, there is the reaction of developing nations towards perpetuation of the classes of nuclear haves and have-nots, through discriminatory regimes like the NPT and MTCR. Mere fact that all kinds of proliferation flourished in the presence of these regimes make them unsuitable for continuation. Thirdly, strategic imbalances in conventional war potential in the regional context posed existential threat to some of the countries in conflict ridden and hence volatile regions. States having stakes in these conflicts, which had failed to resolve them through conventional wars, embarked upon acquiring the magic weapon with the hope of getting the desired solutions. After the overt nuclear explosion by India and covert weapon development capability by Israel, regional dynamics have become the driving forces for proliferation processes and venues. Interestingly, this capability has resulted in the perpetuation of these conflicts, because in the presence of nuclear weapons, even conventional wars appear to be a non-option. In fact, the conventional and nuclear doctrines became so intricately enmeshed in regional settings that it is no longer possible to discern them individually. They have become a mysterious continuum. Practically, these nuclear weapon states have lost the option of going into even a limited conventional conflict, without the fear of escalating it into a nuclear shoot out. Theoretically speaking, denuclearisation of these conflict-harbouring regions would unleash conventional wars for settling these disputes. Therefore, these regional conflicts must be resolved to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders before pressing for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The envisaged nuclear world order must take care of the overall security matrix of all nations. The writer is a retired air commodore of Pakistan Air Force.