August 05, 2005
Non-Proliferation Treaty - RIP…

Tomorrow is the 60th anniversary (6th August 1945) of the Hiroshima atomic bomb in which the most shocking and horrific weapon of mass destruction was ever unleashed on a civilian population. One hundred and fourty thousand people were dead in the few months after the bomb. They were burnt, crushed (by a pressure wave) and radiated to death, often dying painfully and slowly within weeks and months due to the gamma radiation. Along with Nagasaki bomb 3 days later, over a ¼ million people were murdered; the Americans deemed it the only solution to end their war with Japan.

The United States now wants to start developing Nuclear Weapons again, and the UK is starting to rebuild its Nuclear Arsenal. In a staggering act of circularity and defiance of the NPT, the new weapons of mass destruction will be used to combat weapons of lesser-mass destruction:

Bush wanted to destroy the treaty because it couldn’t be reconciled with his new plans. Last month the Senate approved an initial $4m for research into a “robust nuclear earth penetrator” (RNEP). This is a bomb with a yield about ten times that of the Hiroshima device, designed to blow up underground bunkers which might contain weapons of mass destruction. (You’ve spotted the contradiction). Congress rejected funding for it in November, but Bush twisted enough arms this year to get it restarted. You see what a wonderful world he inhabits when you discover that the RNEP idea was conceived in 1991 as a means of dealing with Saddam Hussein’s biological and chemical weapons.(8) Saddam is pacing his cell, but the Bushites, like the Japanese soldiers lost in Malaysia, march on. To pursue his war against the phantom of the phantom of Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, Bush has destroyed the treaty which prevents the use of real ones.

It gets worse. Last year Congress allocated funding for something called the “reliable replacement warhead”. The government’s story is that the existing warheads might be deteriorating. When they show signs of ageing, they can be dismantled and rebuilt to a “safer and more reliable” design.(9) It’s a pretty feeble excuse for building a new generation of nukes, but it worked. The development of the new bombs probably means that the US will also breach the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty – so we can kiss goodbye to another means of preventing proliferation.

But the biggest disaster was Bush’s meeting with Manmohan Singh a fortnight ago. India is one of three states which possess nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The treaty says it should be denied access to civil nuclear materials. But on July 18th, Bush announced that “as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states.” He would “work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India” and “seek agreement from Congress to adjust U.S. laws and policies”.(10) Four months before the meeting, the US lifted its South Asian arms embargo, by selling Pakistan a fleet of F-16 aircraft, capable of a carrying a wide range of missiles, and India an anti-missile system.(11) As a business plan, it’s hard to fault.

Here then is how it works. If you acquire the bomb and threaten to use it, you will qualify for American exceptionalism by proxy. Could there be a greater incentive for proliferation?
Posted by Ian at August 05, 2005 10:08 AM | TrackBack
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