FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Nuclear Dangers Remain, Despite Bush/Putin Pact

by David Krieger

When major newspapers around the world trumpet headlines such as “U.S., Russia to Cut Nuclear Arms,” it should be cause for excitement, even celebration. Undoubtedly most people will greet this news with a sense of relief that we are moving in the right direction. Certainly it is better to have less nuclear weapons than more of them. But before we bring out the champagne, it would be a good idea to read the fine print and examine more closely what the treaty will and will not do.

The treaty calls for reducing the size of the actively deployed US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals from some 6,000 weapons on each side today to between 1,700 and 2,200 by the year 2012. This is approximately a two-thirds reduction in actively deployed long-range nuclear weapons, a move that is certainly positive.

The treaty, however, has serious flaws. The nuclear weapons taken off active deployment will not necessarily be destroyed. It will be up to each country to determine what to do with these weapons. Many, if not most, of them will be placed in storage, ready to be rapidly redeployed if either country decides to do so.

There is also no immediacy to moving from current levels of strategic nuclear weapons to the promised lower levels. According to the terms of the treaty, each country needs only to reduce to the agreed upon levels by the year 2012. That also happens to be the year that the treaty terminates unless extended.

The United States has been a proponent of making the nuclear reductions reversible. The major problem with this approach is that it leads the Russians to do the same, and thereby increases the likelihood that these weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. It would be better for both countries to permanently dismantle the nuclear weapons removed from active deployment, thereby removing the risk of theft by terrorists.

The treaty deals only with strategic or long-range nuclear weapons. It does not seek to control or reduce tactical or short-range nuclear weapons. Each side still retains thousands of these weapons, and there is serious concern about the Russian arsenal’s vulnerability to theft or unauthorized use. The US Nuclear Posture Review, made partially public in January 2002, called for the development of so-called “bunker buster” nuclear weapons that would be far more likely to actually be used than the larger long-range nuclear weapons.

As we evaluate this treaty, we should remember that even at the lowest level of 1,700 strategic nuclear weapons on each side, there will still be a sufficient number to destroy more than 3,000 cities. The use of far fewer nuclear weapons than this would put an end to civilization as we know it.

President Bush claims, “This treaty will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War.” This remains to be seen. By designing a treaty that will hold so many nuclear weapons in reserve and retain so many on active “hair-trigger” alert, the two sides are not exactly demonstrating a level of trust commensurate with their current friendly relations.

When the treaty is examined closely, it has more the feel of a public relations effort than a solid step toward reducing nuclear dangers and fulfilling the long-standing promises of the two countries to engage in good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, even if this treaty is ratified and enters into force, we will remain in the danger zone that nuclear weapons pose to humanity and all life.

We still need an agreement that provides for deeper, more comprehensive and irreversible cuts with a far greater sense of urgency. Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin need to return to the negotiating table.

David Krieger is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He can be contacted at dkrieger@napf.org

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 19, 2017
Melvin Goodman
America’s Russian Problem
Dave Lindorff
Right a Terrible Wrong: Why Obama Should Reverse Himself and Pardon Leonard Peltier
Laura Carlsen
Bringing Mexico to Its Knees Will Not “Make America Great Again”
John W. Whitehead
Nothing is Real: When Reality TV Programming Masquerades as Politics
Yoav Litvin
Time to Diss Obey: the Failure of Identity Politics and Protest
Mike Whitney
The Trump Speech That No One Heard 
Conn Hallinan
Is Europe Heading for a “Lexit”?
Stephen Cooper
Truth or Twitter? Why Donald Trump Is No John Steinbeck
Binoy Kampmark
Scoundrels of Patriotism: The Freeing of Chelsea Manning
Ramzy Baroud
The Balancing Act is Over: What Elor Azaria Taught Us about Israel
Josh Hoxie
Why Health Care Repeal is a Stealth Tax Break for Millionaires
Kim C. Domenico
It’s High Time for a Politics of Desire
Shamus Cooke
Inauguration Day and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
More and More Lousy
David Swanson
Samantha Power Can See Russia from Her Padded Cell
Kevin Carson
Right to Work and the Apartheid State
Malaika H. Kambon
Resisting the Lynching of Haitian Liberty!
January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump, It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail