Friday, June 09, 2006

Hans Blix: Don't Forget Those Other 27,000 Nukes

During the Cold War, it proved possible to reach many significant agreements on disarmament. Why does it seem so impossible now, when the great powers no longer feel threatened by one another?






Almost all the talk these days is about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to states like Iran and North Korea, or to terrorists. Foreign ministers meet again and again, concerned that Iran has enriched a few milligrams of uranium to a 4 percent level.

Some want to start waving the stick immediately. They are convinced that Iran will eventually violate its commitment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to forego nuclear weapons.

While it's desirable that the foreign ministers talk about Iran, they don't seem to devote any thought to the fact that there are still some 27,000 real nuclear weapons in the United States, Russia and other states, and that many of these are on hair-trigger alert.

Nor do the ministers seem to realize that the determination they express to reduce the nuclear threat is diminished by their failure to take seriously their commitment, made within the framework of the NPT, to move toward the reduction and elimination of their own nuclear arsenals.

The stagnation in global disarmament is only part of the picture. In the United States, military authorities want new types of nuclear weapons; in Britain, the government is considering the replacement, at tremendous cost, of one generation of nuclear weapons by another - as defense against whom?

Last year a UN summit of heads of states and governments failed to adopt a single recommendation on how to attain further disarmament or prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. For nearly a decade, work at the disarmament conference in Geneva has stood still. It is time for a revival.

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