Louis Charbonneau / Reuters – 2005-05-27 09:02:54
United Nations (May 24, 2005) — US and NATO nuclear policies are immoral, dangerous and destructive for the global nuclear non-proliferation regime, a former Defense Secretary from the Vietnam War era, Robert McNamara, said on Tuesday.
McNamara, who spoke at a conference taking stock of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was defense secretary in the 1960s under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. He was the architect of early US policy in the Vietnam War.
“If I were to characterize U.S. and NATO nuclear policies in one sentence, I would say they are immoral, illegal, militarily unnecessary, very, very dangerous in terms of the risk of inadvertent or accidental launch and destructive of the non-proliferation regime that has served us so well,” he said.
McNamara said the monthlong conference should strengthen the treaty and “ensure that North Korea and Iran do not become nuclear powers.”
But he added, “I believe there is a high probability that the conference will fail to achieve those objectives.”
He said it was dangerous to believe that countries without the bomb and which face serious security risks would ignore the nuclear option while Washington continues to regard a large atomic arsenal as vital to its own defense.
The conference, which ends Friday, bogged down in wrangling over the agenda and then the allocation of work among committees. While the disputes played out behind the scenes, nuclear activists and diplomats blamed the delays squarely on Iran and the United States.
The United States spent the first two weeks of the conference quietly seeking to block discussions of nuclear disarmament-related commitments and decisions reached at 1995 and 2000 NPT review conferences.
Iran sought to block discussion of its nuclear enrichment program, which it insists is intended to produce fuel for nuclear power plants while the United States, Britain, France and Germany fear it may be intended for bombs.
US arms expert and former senior diplomat Thomas Graham, who helped negotiate every major arms control agreement during the last 30 years, said that with more than 40 countries capable of making atom bombs, it was vital to revive the NPT.
“In a world with nuclear weapons so widespread, every conflict would run the risk of going nuclear and it would be impossible to keep nuclear arms out of the hands of terrorist organizations,” Graham said.
North Korea says it has the bomb. If Iran joins Pyongyang, others may follow, McNamara said.
“In Asia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are likely to follow suit. And in the Middle East, Egypt, Saudia Arabia and Syria may well follow,” he said.
This, experts say, would wreck the NPT.
By signing the 1970 NPT, the United States and the four other nuclear weapons states — the Soviet Union, China, France and Britain — agreed to work on disarming.
The other 183 signatories pledged not to seek nuclear weapons or help other states acquire them.
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