FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Nuclear Disarmament is the Key to Success

by DAVID KRIEGER

The Non-Proliferation Treaty, which entered into force in 1970, is the centerpiece of international efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons. Perhaps the treaty was given the wrong name when it was created because the treaty is about nuclear disarmament as well as non-proliferation. At the heart of the treaty is a deal between those states that possess nuclear weapons and those that do not. The deal, simply put, is that the nuclear weapons states agree to the complete disarmament of their nuclear arsenals, while the non-nuclear weapon states agree not to acquire nuclear weapons. This agreement, or bargain, between the parties to the treaty, setting forth the course of action each will pursue with regard to nuclear weapons, is the most important aspect of the treaty. It is, however, the least understood, particularly by American citizens.

The sad fact is that from the inception of the treaty the nuclear weapon states have shown scant inclination to fulfill their part of the bargain. As recently as the year 2000, the nuclear weapon states agreed to 13 practical steps to achieve nuclear disarmament. Their record is an almost perfect failure, not because they tried and failed but because they lacked the political will to even seriously try. Without a serious effort by the nuclear weapon states to achieve nuclear disarmament, the treaty appears to enshrine double standards that give special privileges to the nuclear weapon states. In fact, it is not the treaty that promotes double standards, but the nuclear weapon states themselves.

A year ago the United States initiated a preventive war against Iraq based on the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or programs to create them, including nuclear weapons programs. Setting aside the now doubtful veracity of the claims, the US-led war underlines the double standards in the non-proliferation regime. By contrast, the US remained silent about the proliferation activities of its ally in the “war on terror,” Pakistan. When it was revealed that Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya, and was pardoned by the Pakistani government after he admitted these serious transgressions, the US had little to say. Similarly, the US has never publicly raised the issue of the known proliferation of nuclear weapons to Israel. All of this points to double standards that are inconsistent with the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and with effective attempts to control the spread of nuclear weapons.

In a February 2004 speech at the National Defense University, George Bush addressed the threat of nuclear proliferation. “The greatest threat before humanity today,” he said, “is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons.” Among the seven proposals put forward by Mr. Bush was one calling for the 40 nations of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to “refuse to sell enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies to any state that does not already possess full-scale, functioning enrichment and reprocessing plants.” That this proposal met with a round of applause suggests how little his audience, and Americans in general, are attuned to issues of double standards.

We commend Mr. Bush for calling on all countries “to strengthen the laws and international controls that govern proliferation,” including criminalizing proliferation. Mr. Bush is right in seeking to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons. He is wrong in thinking that it can be done based on an international system of double standards that favor some nations over others. Nuclear weapons anywhere are a threat to people everywhere. As Mohamed Elbaradei, the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned in a speech on the day following Mr. Bush’s speech, “If the world does not change course, we risk self-destruction.”

Elbaradei called for tightening and universalizing controls over the export of nuclear materials, empowering the international inspectors, preventing withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, bringing sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle under international control, initiating long overdue negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty and having the nuclear weapon states move forward on nuclear disarmament. Elbaradei called nuclear disarmament a “fundamental part of the nonproliferation bargain.”

“We must abandon the unworkable notion,” Elbaradei said, “that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security, and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.” Certainly he must have had in mind programs, such as “mini-nukes” and “bunker-busting” nuclear weapons being pursued by the US administration, when he made this statement.

Moving Forward

ElBaradei’s proposals are useful and necessary, as are those of Mr. Bush that do not enshrine double standards, but they are not sufficient to stop nuclear proliferation. A more comprehensive and urgent program is needed to achieve this critical goal because the consequences of failure are so drastic. The type of serious program that must be implemented if we are to prevent further nuclear proliferation with all its attendant threats is set forth below.

1. Universal application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The treaty cannot be effective unless it is applicable to all states in the world without exception. Currently, India, Pakistan and Israel are not parties to the treaty and possess nuclear weapons. North Korea has withdrawn from the treaty and claims to possess nuclear weapons. These states must be brought into the treaty, and made accountable for controlling their nuclear weapons and materials under international safeguards. For the treaty to succeed these states, along with the other nuclear weapons states, must also become subject to transparent and verifiable nuclear disarmament.

2. Set a timetable and clear objectives in achieving nuclear disarmament.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty has been in effect for more than three decades without substantial progress on the nuclear disarmament provisions of the treaty’s bargain. The only way to assure that the nuclear weapons states achieve their obligations in a timely way is to set a strict timetable for achieving significant markers on the road to complete nuclear disarmament.

3. Establish a global inventory of nuclear weapons and materials.

In order to control nuclear weapons and materials, it is necessary to ascertain accurately what exists. All states without exception must be subject to reporting requirements and international inspections in creating this inventory.

4. Place all nuclear weapons and materials under international safeguards. Currently there are double standards in which the civilian and nuclear weapons programs of the nuclear weapons states are not subject to IAEA inspections and safeguarding. These double standards must end and all nuclear materials and weapons in all countries must be accounted for and placed under international safeguards.

5. Cease all efforts to “improve” nuclear capabilities.

Currently the US and other nuclear weapon states are seeking to develop new and more usable nuclear weapons. This is another example of double standards under the Non-Proliferation Treaty that must be ended.

6. Criminalize both horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons.

All efforts to accomplish nuclear proliferation, whether by transfer of weapons or materials or by improving and expanding existing nuclear arsenals, should be criminalized and treated as criminal violations of international law.

7. Provide security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states.

An essential part of the bargain for non-nuclear weapon states forgoing their nuclear option is that they will not be subject to nuclear attack by the existing nuclear weapon states. These assurances must be reaffirmed in unequivocal terms.

8. Commit to a No First Use Policy.

All existing nuclear weapon states should commit to not being first to use nuclear weapons against other nuclear weapon states and to bringing their nuclear policies into line with this commitment.

9. Maintain the current moratorium on nuclear testing.

All states should maintain the current nuclear testing moratorium and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty if they have not already done so. The US can take the lead by ceasing preparations for resumption of nuclear testing within a shorter timeframe and by closing its Nevada Test Site.

10. Redirect funding from developing and maintaining nuclear weapons to dismantling them and safeguarding nuclear materials.

Funding currently directed to maintaining and improving nuclear arsenals should be redirected to the goal of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and materials. International efforts to inspect and safeguard nuclear materials and weapons and to dismantle existing nuclear arsenals require adequate funding to be successful.

Conclusion

Nuclear proliferation cannot be halted without the nuclear weapons states making serious, significant and sustained moves toward nuclear disarmament. This means that nuclear disarmament can no longer be placed on the back burner, while attempting to halt proliferation by force. To prevent proliferation, double standards must end and the nuclear weapon states must engage with determination in fulfilling their long overdue obligations to achieve nuclear disarmament. A world safe from nuclear threat will be a world without nuclear weapons or one moving rapidly in this direction. It will also be one in which all nuclear materials and weapons are under strict and effective international controls. This requires a new way of viewing security, one free of double standards. It is a way made necessary by the need to prevent even a single nuclear weapon or the materials to make one from falling into the hands of non-state extremists who are not subject to being deterred by threat of retaliation.

Albert Einstein said, somewhat enigmatically, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” We can imagine what will happen to our cities, to civilization and to life if we fail to prevent nuclear weapons from proliferating and being used. But can we summon the political will to prevent these imaginable catastrophes caused by the unleashing of nuclear weapons somewhere on earth from destroying our collective future and causing untold sorrow?

DAVID KRIEGER is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the co-author of Nuclear Weapons and the World Court.

 

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

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail