Tuesday, November 15, 2005
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How much worrying about nonproliferation is justified?
Ben Bain reports in the Financial Times that the 9/11 Commission is not thrilled with U.S. nonproliferation efforts:
[Nuclear proliferation sounds worrisome--ed.] Well, the nexus between terrorist groups and nukes should be a source of concern. On the other hand, over at the Foreign Policy website, however, Jacques E. C. Hymans argues that the problem is not quite as big as Kean is claiming:
[But rogue states are still a source of concern, right?--ed.] Hymans makes a provocative point on this front:
[Yeah, but surely we should worry about Iran, right?--ed.] Well, yes, but how much to worry is a question that's still subject to debate. Just as worrisome is what Kevin Drum has pointed out -- the U.S. can't convince other countries on its own to care:
[At last, something to worry about!!--ed.]
Apart from the original five, we find India, a democracy with international credentials so strong, it even has a chance for permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council.
2) India, Israel, and Pakistan are not party to the NPT. Iran, Iraq, Libya and South Korea are, and North Korea was. Methinks someone is ignorant of the basis of the IAEA's authority to inspect, and is hoping nobody will notice that the ignorant person wants to impose the terms of a treaty on a government that is not party to it.posted by: rosignol on 11.15.05 at 01:01 AM [permalink]
I think the two articles you counterpose -- the 9-11 Commission's position and Hymans' article about how few new countries enter the nuclear club -- address similar but actually unrelated topics.
The 9-11 Commission is concerned about nuclear terrorism in the United States, i.e., Islamists or others who get a bomb and bring it here.
The Hymans piece is about the spread of nuclear technology and weapons to new states. That isn't the concern the 9-11 Commission has, though I concede the two are related.posted by: Andy on 11.15.05 at 01:01 AM [permalink]
There are obvious diplomatic reasons to treat the NPT and nonproliferation as neutral as to the nature of the states (since no rogue state is going to accept its rogue status as the reason why it shouldn't have nukes while its neighbor does). But it seems disingenuous to suggest that we should care as deeply about whether Israel or South Korea has nukes as we do about whether Iran or North Korea does. The former states going nuclear is primarily a problem insofar as it makes it harder for us to forestall the latter, rather than a problem in itself for us. We don't really worry that either is going to sell nuclear technology to our enemies (do we?), or that they'll become our enemies themselves. So it seems reasonable for press and other public attention to be focused on the countries whose nuclear activities and ambitions are likely to actually threaten us, whether or not it should be our government's official position to treat all potential nuclear states more or less the same.
Do you honestly credit the sophisticated, nuanced European diplomat with a sincere question as to who created this laptop? Or do you think he might be a little disengenuous about not wanting to confront tough issues and has found a convenient pretext to punt on the issue.posted by: wayne on 11.15.05 at 01:01 AM [permalink]
The scary thing to me about the way our government has handled the threats we face is that, while more nuclear weapons getting loose is a serious concern, there are already nuclear weapons that haven't been accounted for and could find their way into our country via our open borders. This is how I imagine the terrorists may try to attack us. They don't have to procure new nukes from a rogue state, they simply have to locate and purchase some of the unaccounted for nuclear weapons that are supposedly abroad and sneak them in through Mexico.
This is one of the reasons I am a staff member of VOID. I want a stronger assurance that my children aren't going to be poisoned by nuclear radiation from an attack here at home. I don't care whether it's a new nuke or a one that's already gone missing. A nuke is a nuke is a nuke, and since our incumbent representatives aren't securing our borders, they could make their way into this country.posted by: Stephanie on 11.15.05 at 01:01 AM [permalink]
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