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Nukes on Horizon

Donald Paneth Jun 15, 2005

UNITED NATIONS, N.Y.—The failure of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference in May intensified the vast, multidimensional, made-in-America character of the nuclear weapons dilemma.

The conference accomplished nothing, and the United States was the principal villain: the U.S. blocked substantive discussion of NPT issues – nuclear disarmament, nuclear arms proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Delegates spent two weeks getting an agenda adopted. Then, they went on to other procedural matters such as the organization of conference committees.

In spite of the interests and concerns of people around the world, the mass media by and large ignored the impasse and its implications.

However, representatives of non-governmental organizations followed the proceedings expertly and were forthright in their reports and assessments.

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, D.C., said: “The arrogant and clumsy U.S. strategy (the brainchild of former Under Secretary of State John Bolton) has most certainly reinforced the view of the majority of countries that the U.S. and the other nuclear-weapon states do not intend to live up to their NPT-related nuclear disarmament commitments.”

Kimball added: “The administration’s selective presentation of its record…does not hide the fact that it has taken actions contrary to U.S disarmament commitments.” These actions include “its publicly stated opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and negotiations on a verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty, its pursuit of new nuclear weapons, and its failure to agree to deeper, verifiable, and irreversible nuclear weapons reductions.”

Andrew Lichterman and Jacqueline Cabasso of the Western States Legal Foundation in Oakland, Calif., observed that “By taking the position that nuclear weapons are acceptable tools of warfare that it will use … the U.S. has severely undermined the NPT’s status.”

During the conference, a working paper proposing that parties to the NPT consider the legal, technical and political elements required for an international convention or a framework of instruments for the abolition of nuclear weapons was circulated by Malaysia, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Timon-Leste, Nicaragua and Yemen.

No action was taken on the proposal.

On May 18, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Air Force was seeking President George W. Bush’s approval of a national security directive that “could move the U.S. closer to deploying the first weapons in space.”

The U.N. Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibits military maneuvers and the place of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in earth orbit and on celestial bodies, including the moon. The U.S. is a party to the treaty.

On June 2, the U.N. Conference on Disarmament opened the second part of its 2005 session in Geneva. The Disarmament Conference is the only U.N. body with the power to negotiate disarmament agreements.

It too is stalled, unable to agree on an agenda or adopt a work program for the past eight years.

In the June 13 issue of The Nation, Jonathan Schell called attention to William Arkin’s scarcely noticed recent report in the Washington Post that the Bush administration has created and placed on continuous high alert a force whereby the President can launch a pinpoint strike, including nuclear, anywhere on earth.

This and other actions “make operational a revolution in U.S. nuclear policy,” Schell wrote.

He asked: “Would the President, facing defeat of his policies somewhere in the world…actually reach for his nuclear option?”

These are insane policies and developments. They are being carried out by a group of psychopaths in the White House passing for normal. A new national anti-nuclear weapons campaign must be undertaken to stop them.

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