by John Hawkins | October 30, 2003 11:59 pm
The nuclear genie is about to get all the way out of the bottle folks. We’ve just barely got him by the big toe and we’re holding on for dear life. The IAEA gives us a few details about how bad it could get…
“Up to 40 countries are believed to be capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons, underlining the need to reinforce and update the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei told a French newspaper.
The treaty, which came into force in 1970, has been overtaken by a world in which developing nuclear arms has become attractive not only to many countries, but also to “terrorist groups,” ElBaradei told Friday’s issue of Le Monde.
The number of countries believed to be able to create such weapons “is estimated at 35 or 40,” he said.
“And under the current regime, there is nothing illicit for a non-nuclear state to conduct uranium-enriching activities … or even to possess military-grade nuclear material,” he said.
Should any one of them decide to break their commitment to the non-proliferation treaty, experts believe it “could produce a weapon in just a few months.”
Most people tend to underestimate the threat of nuclear proliferation because we humans have a tendency to forestall action until a crisis actually happens or is at least imminent. But if we allow things to get to that point with nuclear weapons, it’ll be too late.
Now why do I say that? Because we’re getting to the point where more and more unstable and particularly dangerous nations are acquiring or are about to acquire nuclear weapons. So for example, while I’d prefer to have a nuke-free Israel and India, I get really worried about a nuclear North Korea, Pakistan, or Iran.
Unfortunately, we’re probably just going to have to live with the idea of a nuclear Pakistan since the Pakistanis are never going to give up their nukes as long as China and India are armed. But Pakistan IS NOT a stable country and they do have extensive ties to groups that would like nothing better than to detonate a nuclear weapon in the heart of New York City or London. That’s a danger we’re probably going to have to just live with.
But the idea of a nuclear North Korea and a nuclear Iran is not something we should tolerate under any circumstances. I say that not only because Mr. Poofy hair and the mullahs run dangerous and unstable regimes that are hostile to America, but because allowing these nations to keep their nukes will cause nuclear weapons to spread like kudzu across the world. If North Korea keeps their nukes, South Korea, Japan, and maybe even Taiwan will probably go nuclear down the line. While I don’t necessarily consider any of those nations to be threats to the United States, there is a lot of bad blood in that region, particularly when you toss China into the mix; that could result in nuclear brinksmanship a few years down the line.
But the region that should really scare the hell out of everyone is the Middle-East. If Iran gets nukes, it would set off a chain reaction that would likely lead to Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey all acquiring nuclear weapons just to make sure Iran doesn’t get any funny ideas about uniting the muslim world the hard way. If that many autocratic, mercurial nations with ties to terrorism were to acquire nukes, it would almost guarantee at some point that we’d see a nuclear war in the Middle-East and terrorists detonating nuclear weapons in Western cities.
Now some people foolishly believe the threat of MAD (mutually assured destruction) would protect the world from a nuclear war even if nukes were to spread across the globe. But you cannot always count on the other side being rational, especially when you’re talking about religious fanatics, deranged dictators, or terrorist supporting nations who may believe — perhaps even correctly — that a terrorist group might be able to sneak a nuclear weapon into the United States that couldn’t be traced back to them.
So when I say that we should be willing to go to any lengths, even war to disarm North Korea and prevent Iran from attaining nukes, this is the scenario I’m thinking about down the line. If we don’t deal with the two remaining members of the Axis of Evil, I fear that the ramifications of our actions down the road will be more than we can bear.
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