Sunday, June 01, 2008

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

By Timothy Rice

The U.S has repeatedly expressed that it doesn't like the idea of Iran gaining nuclear weapons. Iran says it is simply trying to get nuclear-electric power, while the U.S and other U.N. countries think otherwise. To be honest in 2008, with a growing number of countries gaining nuclear technology, Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Unfortunately for the U.S it is caught in tough situation it has seen many times since 1968 when the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was first signed, how can the U.S expect other countries not to develop nuclear weapons when it's own stockpile is of ridiculous proportions?

The NPT was in itself a tool of proliferation. A collection of the most powerful states, all nuclear armed, signing an agreement that they would not aid in the proliferation of nuclear weapon technology. If this doesn't send a message to the rest of the world that the keys to world dominance lay in nuclear technology, then what does? In India, Israel, and North Korea, three new comers to the nuclear scene, regional dominance is thought to be a major pushing factor into nuclear technology. Iran is now poised to be the next nuclear regional power, and little is going to stand in its way of making that happen.

Unfortunately for the U.S as it leads in the quest to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it has very little in it's arsenal to do so. In the examples of North Korea and Pakistan the U.S has done little more than subject the states to unilateral economic sanctions. The U.S has found it difficult to convince other states who are part of the NPT to impose their own sanctions on these states. In Iran there is an even greater quagmire, the U.S has had Iran under economic sanctions ever since they took over the U.S embassy there in 1979, long before they began developing nuclear technology. In an attempt to force Iran to halt their nuclear development the U.S has attempted to hold Russia and China accountable through economic controls so that they too will sanction Iran. Unfortunately neither state is very interested in doing so, as they are both major weapons traders with Iran, including much of the materials needed for their nuclear program. By trying to force these two world powers around, the U.S is actually further eroding its power of persuasion over them.

Lack of a bargaining chip isn't the only problem the U.S faces as it tries to force the world into adherence to the NPT. Two other factors greatly diminish its influence, it's own interest in breaking nuclear treaties and it's very real threat of willingness to use nuclear weapons against other states. First for it's treaty breaking, the U.S has in 2006 proposed a program which will replace its current nuclear stockpile with more updated warheads and delivery devices. This replacement can only be considered ethically wrong, not lawfully as no more nuclear weapons are being created than are already owned. However, the situation becomes problematic when dealing with the treaties signed by the U.S and other nuclear states against the further testing of nuclear weapons because of the known negative effects on nature and humans. The U.S would never create an entirely new stockpile without testing. So what will it do?

Beyond redevelopment the U.S, the only country in history which has used nuclear weapons against an enemy, still considers nuclear weapons an option in times of war. Furthermore, this option has been considered for Iraq a non-nuclear armed country. After decades of the Cold War, where at least Mutually Assured Destruction somewhat protected both the U.S and the Soviet Union, the U.S has now plunged the world back into 1945 with threats of nuclear strikes against countries who do not have comparable devices.

Although the U.S has made some substantial movement to decrease its number of nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War it still harbors the best equipped nuclear arsenal in the world by far. Those who attest that the U.S must have a far superior arsenal in order to retain its police power over the world are out of touch with human emotion. Nuclear weapons may be able to deter countries from using other forms of conventional warfare, but they in no way can stop their own proliferation. With every day that passes that smaller states feel threatened by the U.S' ability to completely decimate them, they will want more to create a comparable weapon.

If the U.S really wants to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world it needs to stop meddling with pointless sanctions and needs to take the first step to changing what defines power in the world. Cutting it's arsenal in half after the cold war ended had little effect around the world, when what was left still greatly dwarfed what every other state had (with the exception of Russia).

The U.S needs to drop is arsenal to near zero in order to get other countries up to the table, and to get them to consider their own dismantlement. No one is going to put down their gun until the biggest gun gets put down. America, it's our move.

1 comment:

Ryan Parr said...

Remember in David Katz's class the discussion about nuclear disarmament? unfortunately, as he said, our arsenal is viewed by the officials who watch over it as a deterrent. which is ludicrous because they're trying to rationalize having these weapons ourselves by saying we would only use them if there were warheads already in the air heading our way. um... yeah. so pretty much its not gonna stop those particular birds form falling, but even though our immediate and horrifying death is imminent, it will give us comfort in our pain to know that at least we launched those nukes first, so were not the only ones disintegrating. that would certainly put a smile on my face!
as far as the united states leading by example, you're absolutely right, that would be the most effective course of action, but it wont happen. Americans are proud of there biochemical muscles to the point where if we couldn't snicker up our sleeves at unarmed members of our global household, we would fall apart. theres a couple hundred more years of growing up to be done by our junior high nation before they can accept something like that as not being, "more dumber than not buyin a ford!"