Friday, July 11, 2008

Iran, GWB, and Nukes

What Iran and Other Nations Are Learning from North Korea

I may be going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that the fireworks around my neighborhood on July 2nd were not in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the agreement in which the United States and other nuclear powers agreed to eventually eliminate their nuclear weapons, and non-nuclear states that signed onto the treaty agreed they would not seek to develop nuclear weapons capabilities.

As treaties go, this one
is said to be more significant than others.
The Treaty represents the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon States. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. A total of 187 parties have joined the Treaty, including the five nuclear-weapon States. More countries have ratified the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty's significance.
All over this country there were fireworks on the Fourth, but the biggest fireworks were
in response to the show Iran put on for its people and the world when it test-fired nine missiles in war-game maneuvers on Wednesday, including at least one the government in Tehran described as having the range to reach Israel.
The tests drew sharp American criticism and came a day after the Iranians threatened to retaliate against Israel and the United States if attacked…Gordon D. Johndroe, the deputy White House press secretary, said in a statement at the Group of 8 meeting in Japan that Iran’s development of ballistic missiles was a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“The Iranian regime only furthers the isolation of the Iranian people from the international community when it engages in this sort of activity,” Mr. Johndroe said.
In the NYT report there was a sparse paragraph acknowledging that
At the same time, United States and British warships have been conducting naval maneuvers in the Persian Gulf — apparently within range of the launching site of the missiles Iran tested on Wednesday.
That action, apparently, was not like the provocative act of Iran because we are the good guys whose intentions are beyond reproach, unlike Iran, a charter member of the Axis of Evil club.

I wish I could have confidence in what my president says, but I can’t. This is after all the president who… (Make up your own list of all the ways he and members of his administration have misrepresented their intentions to the American people and the world; and make sure you have a lot of paper.) Now, I do not have any more confidence in what the leaders of Iran say. I do not have the long list of ways they have not told the truth like I do for my own government, but maybe I would if I lived in Iran or had been paying closer attention.

My point is that it is difficult to make sense of the intentions of either Iran or the United States. I know where the notion of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq got us and where I sense that our current president and some members of Congress would like to take us again. That scares me more than Iran does. I got to thinking those missiles Iran test-fired and about the nuclear warheads they might be able to carry. And then I got to thinking about the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty we weren’t celebrating in our neighborhood on July 2nd.

It is said that the U.S. developed nuclear weapons because we learned that Hitler was. However it started, before you knew it there were four other nations besides the U.S.—Russia, England, France, and China. In 1960 John Kennedy was worrying about the growth of that “club” to twenty-five or thirty nations.

I’ve wondered about the psychology of the Treaty. Since five nations had the weapons, did they simply dictate to the others that they couldn’t have them? It was said nicer than that; in the Treaty is says that whatever nations hadn’t created such weapons by 1967 when they were drafting the document wouldn’t. That makes a kind of sense, doesn’t it, especially with the specified commitment of those who had the weapons to begin getting rid of them? Of course, the U.S. and Russia still have about 95% of all nuclear weapons.

In the process of 189 nations ratifying the Treaty, four didn’t—India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea—and proceeded with the development of their own nuclear weapons. There were other nations who started down that road but were dissuaded and stopped. When it comes to U.S. policy, there is a clear double standard in judging India, Pakistan, and Israel with North Korea. With India and Pakistan we say we don’t like it, but don’t make any fuss about their having the weapons. We are simply silent on Israel, who won’t say that it has or doesn’t have such weapons, but who everyone acknowledges does. But about the possibility of Iran getting nuclear weapons, we get irate.

On May 6, 2008, at the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the front page of the NGO daily news called it the
Dialogue of the Deaf.
Western delegations have increasingly called on Iran to cease uranium enrichment and other “proliferation sensitive” activities and to comply with relevant UN Security Council resolutions. During the PrepCom, the United States has even gone as far as to proclaim that non-nuclear armed Iran is single largest barrier to a MENWFZ {Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone}, without any reference at all to nuclear-armed Israel. On Monday, the US delegation recommended that Iran follow Libya’s example and give up its nuclear programme, noting that it has been offered a “remarkably generous package of incentives that present the regime in Tehran with two choices”—“defiance and noncompliance ... isolation ... continuing and additional sanctions ... further stunted economic opportunities,” or “international reconciliation and the eventual restoration of international trust in its peaceful intentions.”

This “choice” offered by the US further undermines what Norway’s delegate described as the already “fragile consensus” on the Middle East… In addition, the perception of double standards—or what {Iranian} Amb. Soltanieh referred to as “nuclear apartheid” in the Middle East—is a major source of tension during the NPT review cycles. These double standards contradict the fundamental bargain of the NPT itself and undermine the basis upon which the decision to indefinitely extend the Treaty was agreed to the Arab states and many other non-nuclear weapon states.
Why has President Bush dealt differently with North Korea, Iraq, and Iran? In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, Joseph Ciricione, president of the Ploughshares Fund and author of Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons,
responded to that question.
Well, many countries have questioned why we invaded Iraq, which didn’t have nuclear weapons, and we didn’t invade North Korea, which did, and have drawn the obvious conclusion: we don’t invade North Korea because we can’t, because it’s too risky. And this, of course—

AMY GOODMAN: Precisely because it does have nuclear weapons.

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: Because it has nuclear weapons, and so that—it does—

AMY GOODMAN: So the lesson the countries learn is, if you have a nuclear weapon, the US won’t attack, but if you don’t have a nuclear weapon…?

JOSEPH CIRINCIONE: That’s exactly right, and the Indian chief of staff said this after the first Gulf War, after the ’91 Gulf War. The chief of the army said, “The lesson is, if you think you’re going to go up against the United States, you better get a nuclear weapon.”
Cirincione says that, however difficult, that whole perception has to be changed.
In other words, we have to offer other countries the same deal we offered Libya and that we’re offering North Korea now: if you satisfy our security concerns, we’ll satisfy yours; if you give up these nuclear ambitions, we will guarantee the survival of your regime, we will give you diplomatic recognition, we will change our relationship.{bold mine} That’s the only way you’re going to convince countries to end these programs.
That was precisely what President Bush was unwilling to extend to Iraq and what he continues to be unwilling to extend to Iran. Of course, to accomplish this would require talking directly to Iran, and we know what President Bush and John McCain both think about that. As it is, the president’s policies may simply have increased Iran’s determination to have nuclear weapons, and a lot of other have not nations as well.

Can we make it through the next 18 months without the U.S. launching an attack on Iran? Let’s hope that the next fireworks you hear in your neighborhood will only be leftovers from the Fourth celebrations or belated celebrations of the 40th anniversary of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

- Milo

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thinking dove said...
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