Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Guns are bad (except my one)

The Devil's Kitchen has expanded on the subject of Iran and nuclear weapons. DK's description of Iran's foreign policy seems entirely reasonable. It's interesting that we share a very similar view of the facts but draw very different conclusions.

As I see it, the recent aggressiveness of US/UK foreign policy has been a key factor in Iran restarting it's nuclear programme. As such, it has been counter-productive. I believe that a more diplomatic approach is required and I wouldn't support any military action to destroy Iranian nuclear facilities. It would, almost certainly, make the Iranians more determined than ever. We'd just end up with another Iraq, having to invade as the only way to be sure whether or not Iran has WMD. At this stage it looks unlikely that an invasion would be acceptable but it won't surprise me if the option of missile strikes isn't raised before long. If that idea ever comes to fruition we might as well power the missiles with "extremism fuel - guaranteed to fuel extremism or your money backtm"

So what if the Iranians do develop nuclear weapons? Well, it wouldn't be good, no doubt about it. But the Iranian government, like all government's, wants one thing more than any other; to stay in power. I don't buy the idea that the Iranians are irrational enough to launch a nuclear attack. They know what the consequences would be. So it would be bad, but would it be worse than Israel or Pakistan or India or China or the United States having them? A bit maybe, but it won't be the end of the world. And I'm not convinced that these weapons would easily fall into the wrong hands. It seems to me that if the Iranian government spends the millions of dollars needed to build nuclear weapons they're going to be keeping rather a close eye on them at all times. I'd say that if terrorists do get their hands on nuclear weapons they'll still most likely get them from Russia (I don't mean from the government). There are still lots of them lying around and pretty much everything is up for sale in Russia these days.

But I would rather Iran didn't develop nuclear weapons. This leads us on to hypocrisy. DK and I have a different view on President Ahmadinejad's suggestion that the nuclear powers are guilty of double standards. I said:
Just because the nuclear powers show absolutely no intention of honouring their commitment to disarmament as agreed in the NPT, just because we never talk about Israel's nuclear weapons, just because Pakistan is now an ally so their nuclear weapons are OK too, just because the US is the only nation ever to have actually dropped an atomic bomb on actual people... Double standards? What is the man thinking?
And DK said:
Careful, Hamster; you're letting you're enthusiasm for bashing the US run away with you here.
I'm afraid I must disagree. I have no enthusiasm for bashing the US. I do criticise the actions and and decisions of US governments when I believe they are deserving of criticism. In this case, I believe criticism of the US, and indeed the UK governments is justified.
Treaty on th Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
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.
I'm afraid I can't see how either the US or the UK governments can be said to be fulfilling this obligation. During the election Tony Blair said "I think that it is best that Britain retains an independent nuclear deterrent". That intention is in clear breach of Article VI of the NPT. The US government has refused to ratify the Comprehensive test ban treaty, withdrawn from the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and is considering developing new types of nuclear weapons.*

As the Mexican government said at the last round of talks on the NPT:
Achieving nuclear disarmament is not an option, but a legal obligation contained in the NPT.
I'd say that the evidence for double standards is fairly conclusive. And The US and UK government's put no pressure on Israel or Pakistan to meet this obligation either because they are our friends. I should point out that neither Israel not Pakistan is a signatory to the NPT so they don't have a legal obligation to disarm. How often do we hear calls for the these rogue States to sign up to the NPT?

And the fact remains that the US is the only country ever to have dropped an atomic weapon.
DK says:
As for the US being the only power to actually drop a bomb on a military target, that is utterly beside the point.
I struggle to see why it's beside the point. We're saying that such weapons are intolerable. The US government would have greater moral authority to say this if they were not the only nation ever to have used them. And I suspect that the survivor's of those attacks would find no comfort in the fact that the explosive power of those bombs was "a fraction of even the smallest warhead in the US's current arsenal". I do agree that it is very unlikely that the US would use any of it's current arsenal. As such, you'd think they'd be happy to be rid of them. All they need to do is to start actively decommissioning their unusable weapons, in accordance with the NPT, and I'll stop calling them hypocrites. I'm afraid I won't be holding my breath.

*I'm not sure whether the "considering" is necessary in this sentence. As far as I can tell this is still the official position.

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