Scott Galindez t r u t h o u t | Perspective – 2006-10-12 09:15:20
(October 9, 2006) — As North Korea becomes the eighth confirmed nuclear power (Israel is not confirmed but considered the ninth) some of the blame has to go to the original five nuclear powers. When the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty went into effect in 1970, the five countries who had nuclear bombs — the US, France, China, Great Britain, and the USSR — agreed to work to reduce and eventually eliminate their nuclear arsenals.
Now, 36 years later, no disarmament talks are taking place between those countries. North Korea has been a “threshold” country since the late 80s. The fall of the Soviet Union eliminated shared security arrangements and prompted North Korea to aggressively pursue a nuclear weapon.
The Clinton administration, recognizing the threat, entered into an agreement with North Korea to provide reactors for peaceful use in exchange for an end to the weapons program. In 2003, North Korea announced they were leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty and reconstituting its weapons program, citing US failure to deliver the reactors.
North Korea’s joining the list of nations with nuclear weapons is a sad day for our world. As was the day that the United States became the first nuclear power, and the Soviet Union the second, etc…. As long as one country possesses the ability to annihilate another it is only natural for those without that power to seek it.
In the early 90s, during the lead-up to the extension of the treaty, the US and other nuclear powers agreed to stop testing nuclear weapons. It was widely believed that without that step many other “threshold” nations would not have remained in the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has been a long time since the original five nuclear powers have made any progress in negotiating a reduction in their arsenals; in fact the Bush administration is building new lower-yield nukes with conventional uses that could spur a new arms race.
If all of the nuclear powers that are condemning North Korea are serious about stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, perhaps they should read and come into compliance with the following section of the treaty they first signed in 1970 and extended in 1995:
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.
It should also be noted that it is possible for countries to leave the nuclear club. North Korea would have been the 10th country if South Africa hadn’t abolished their nuclear weapons.
Iran May Not Be Next
In 2003, during his winning presidential campaign in Brazil, candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva criticized the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty as unfair. “If someone asks me to disarm and keep a slingshot while he comes at me with a cannon, what good does that do?” da Silva asked in a speech. He later said Brazil has no intention to develop nuclear arms. That is a good thing; I support non-proliferation, but the sentiment that da Silva expressed will continue to grow as more and more nations feel they are being conned by the nuclear powers.
Let us hope that North Korea is the last to build the bomb, but let’s also hope that one day North Korea, France, Great Britain, Israel, Pakistan, India, Russia, China, and the United States dismantle the bombs they have and eliminate the threat of nuclear annihilation.
Scott Galindez is the Managing Editor of Truthout.
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