Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wagging the Nuclear Dog

A follow up to my post on Nuclear proliferation. According to truthout Guest Contributor Bill Quigle:
Three men protesting the presence of weapons of mass destruction in North Dakota were sentenced to federal prison terms of over three years and ordered to pay $17,000 in restitution by a federal judge in Bismarck. The three dressed as clowns and went to the Echo-9 launch site of the intercontinental Minuteman III nuclear missile in rural North Dakota in June 2006. They broke the lock off the fence and put up peace banners and posters. One said: "Swords into plowshares - Spears into pruning hooks." They poured some of their own blood on the site, hammered on the nuclear launching facility and waited to be arrested....During their trial, the men openly admitted to trying to disarm the nuclear weapon. They pointed out to the jury that each one of these missiles was a devastating weapon of mass destruction, a killing machine precisely designed to murder hundreds of thousands. Testimony by experts about the illegality of these weapons of mass destruction under international law, and their effects, were excluded by the court and never heard by the jury. Read More.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which the US loves to quote in relation to the nuclear activities of North Korea and Iran also states in Article VI:

"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

When, in the closing years of the last century, India called attention to the requirement for complete nuclear disarmament by all under this provision, the Clinton Administration said its implementation was "unrealistic" though the collapse of the Soviet Union a decade earlier had ended the nuclear arms race. The US (and all other nuclear powers) therefore is also in breach of its "international obligations" in this regard and has little moral authority to demand that others comply with the NPT. However, instead of taking steps to remedy this, the US is locking up citizens who are bold enough to point out the inconsistency.

But this is far from an isolated incidence of non-compliance. The NPT has been repeatedly violated by the nuclear states in pursuit of narrow political interests.

According to a report by John Burroughs, Executive Director Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy the 2000 NPT Review Conference came up with an "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapons States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all states are committed under Article VI." Don't hold your breath though. The report states that "during the Conference, diplomatic talking points released by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists revealed that US negotiators advised Russia that keeping its nuclear forces on alert is a good idea". Why? "Under 'any possible future arms control agreement,' the talking points say, Russia, could maintain on 'constant' alert a 'large, diversified, viable arsenal', sufficient to mount an 'annihilating counterattack' in response to a US first strike, regardless of any 'limited' US national missile defense system." Of course, the US could then use the same argument to justify its arsenal's continued existence. We thus have here the nuclear powers colluding to eliminate the possibility of their ever having to comply with their "unequivocal undertaking".

Under Article I of the NPT "each nuclear-weapon State undertakes not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly; and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices." However, in 1976, a US Senate committee uncovered secret US heavy water exports to India which paved the way for India's nuclear weapons programme. According to Wikipedia, in March 2006 The UK's Foreign Office admitted that in the 1950s and 1960s, Britain made hundreds of secret shipments of restricted materials- including samples of fissile material (uranium-235 in 1959 and plutonium in 1966) as well as highly enriched lithium-6 which is used to boost fission bombs and fuel hydrogen bombs- to Israel. A BBC Newsnight investigation also showed that Britain shipped 20 tons of heavy water directly to Israel in 1959 and 1960 to start up the Dimona reactor, constructed with French help in 1956.

The UK and France are both declared Nuclear States and signatories to the NPT. Their conduct simply proves that the NPT is a byword for global domination by the nuclear powers; a scheme to keep such weapons, and the political power they convey, in their hands and in the hands of their friends. They never intended it to "facilitate the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons."

Created, in Paul Leventhal's words "for a world of thousands of nuclear power plants and of multi-billion-dollar deals (French plans to export reprocessing plants to Pakistan, South Korea and Taiwan; Germany's pact to supply reactors, enrichment and reprocessing plants to Brazil; U.S. and European plans to provide the Shah of Iran with all the reactors and reprocessing plants he wanted; and Japan's plan to achieve energy independence by acquiring more plutonium than contained in the arsenals of the superpowers)" the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ---with its seamless arrangement of assured nuclear supply built upon pledges from the non-weapon states not to produce nuclear weapons and from the weapon states to negotiate in good faith to get rid of theirs---was supposed to take care of all problems. That world has not materialised. I repeat the assertion in my earlier post that the NPT is obsolete and we need a new treaty to govern the use of fissile material for the benefit of all humanity.

Nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented. That much is plain. However, a situation where a few countries countries are allowed to continue to develop, possess and threaten the rest with these weapons is just as "unrealistic". The continuing proliferation and the duplicity of the nuclear states has proven this. Any new treaty must ensure that all states are treated equally and must disband the so-called Nuclear Club. All existing WMD must be consolidated under control of a central, international authority with the legal obligation and mandated to to fire in retaliation immediately a nuclear attack on any country, for any reason by any other country is confirmed.

As fantastical as this might sound, it is the only sure way to temper the global appetite for WMD. And because terrorists lack the capacity to develop WMD and rely on "rogue" states to provide them with the material and technology, such temperance would no doubt reduce (and hopefully eliminate) the possibility of nuclear-armed terrorists. On June 26, 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, soon to be India's first Prime Minister, declared: "As long as the world is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and use the latest devices for its protection" including nuclear technology. The NPT has achieved little more than the attempted stratification of the prevailing order. It needs to go.

No comments: