Monday, March 06, 2006

Stopping the Spread of Nukes

On Saturday I attended a conference about stopping the spread of nuclear weapon technology, called Nuclear Hypocrisy: Iran, the United States, and the Perils of Proliferation. It couldn't have been a more timely conference as that very weekend President Bush was in India threatening to undermine non proliferation efforts by rewarding India with nuclear technology despite its earlier illegal actions to build and test a nuclear weapon of its own.

What message does that send to Iran who is now following India's path, intent on acquiring nuclear weapon capabilities? If it looks to India as an example the lesson is simple: There are no real consequences for enriching uranium and building a nuclear program.

Non proliferation only works if you apply it across the board to all countries, not haphazardly to certain countries when you don't agree with their leaders.

Bush's India deal is a mistake. Congress should take steps to stop it.

Other points raised during the conference include the U.S.'s hypocritical stance on the production and potential use for nukes. How can the US make it a top priority to stop the spread of nuclear weapons when it continues to maintain thousands of lethal nuclear missiles and funds programs like missile defense, which is in violation of non proliferation agreements? Perhaps the most egregious program the pentagon has been pushing is a 'conventional' use for nuclear weapons under the guise of bunker buster bombs.

Complicating matters, with regard to Iran and the Middle East, is that Israel is said to have an undisclosed number of nukes, which Arab countries perceive as a threat.

If the US is serious about non proliferation it must demonstrate by example, otherwise it's just empty rhetoric. It should work to reduce its own stock piles of nukes, discontinue its missile shield program, work with UN weapons inspectors to verify and track fissile materials, and help to dismantle and protect old Russian nuclear weapons.

For further reading:
Text of Speech: Nuclear Hypocrisy: Iran, the United States, and the Perils of Proliferation - pdf
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists


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