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Nation Topics - Nuclear Arms and Proliferation

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Nation Topics - Nuclear Arms and Proliferation

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A more virulent nuclear era has superseded the perils of the cold
war.

When India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests in 1998, even those of us who condemned them balked at the hypocrisy of Western nuclear powers.

A move is on to blur the line between conventional and nuclear weapons.

George W. Bush went out of his way to praise America's allies in his speech marking the six-month anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In a clear effort to massage the sensibilities of nations worried about escalating US unilateralism, he spoke of "the power and vitality of our coalition" against Al Qaeda and singled out for praise nations from Denmark to Uzbekistan.

But the international concerns about US intentions persist, and with good reason. Before Bush made his speech stroking the Afghanistan allies, from the Pentagon leaked previously confidential portions of the Nuclear Posture Review, calling for more flexible nuclear weapons, arguing for a resumption of weapons testing and exploring "contingencies" that could require nuclear attack on Russia, China, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Iraq or Iran.

Arguments for the tactical use of nuclear weapons are not new. But the endorsement of that strategy at the highest levels of the Administration marks a dramatic departure, a direct threat of first-use nuclear strikes against nonnuclear states. The review envisions nuclear weapons not as unthinkable engines of holocaust--their very use a crime against humanity--but as the next logical battlefield step from bunker-busters and daisy-cutters. Yet there is no such thing as a logical use of a nuclear weapon. On page 7 Jonathan Schell writes that just as New York was dealing with a false nuclear bomb scare, the "government was moving to relegitimize the use of nuclear weapons in general and throwing down the nuclear gauntlet to the Middle East in particular--the very part of the world from which New York and Washington and other cities most fear attack."

This unprecedented waving of the nuclear stick against nonnuclear foes (unprecedented, anyway, since Richard Nixon threatened to drop the bomb on Hanoi and was dissuaded by Henry Kissinger, a moment captured on newly released tapes) is even more worrisome because despite Bush's reassuring language, his speech outlined the "second stage" of the war on terrorism. This phase envisions a significant shift from the international police action aimed primarily at Al Qaeda. Bush, who has already dispatched advisers to Georgia, Yemen and the Philippines, said the United States "encourages and expects governments everywhere to help remove the terrorist parasites that threaten their own countries and the peace of the world" and offered troops and assistance. The suggestion to coalition partners: Support future American action against Iraq, and we'll actively support you against whatever militants harbor, in Bush's words, "differences and grievances" with your government. He also raised the possibility of pre-emptive strikes against nations deemed to be developing weapons of mass destruction--now, presumably, with nuclear weapons.

Rather than legitimizing nuclear warfare, the United States should be leading a global campaign to shun nuclear weapons as genocidal and promoting effective international agreements to halt nuclear proliferation and the development of other weapons of mass destruction.

Bush's speech stakes out a massive expansion of American military options. Where the nuclear policy review and the war on terror come together is an expanding pursuit of American military and political supremacy as an end in itself.

The offspring of the Manhattan Project are circling back toward Manhattan.

The news that the Pentagon had secret contingency plans to fight terrorism with nuclear weapons has the marks not of considered military doctrine but rather of an infantile tantrum born of the Bu

To the January ritual of reflecting on the old year and looking to the new, add the "top five" list of various 2001 nuclear events put together by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Blogs

Congress may lean hawkish but progressive groups in the beltway are throwing their weight behind the White House’s efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement on Iran’s nuclear program.

October 24, 2014

Between the conflict in Syria and Ukraine, the thaw bewween the US and Russia seems to be over. 

October 14, 2014

The United States and its allies keep waiting on Iran to make more concessions on its nuclear enrichment program. But they’re missing the bigger picture.

October 7, 2014

Two major anti-Iran groups in DC are more than they appear.

August 11, 2014

Efforts to kill nuclear talks with Iran are only coming from Republicans. That helps Obama.

July 29, 2014

President Obama wants a six-month extension of the negotiations, and so do the Iranians. They’ll get it.

July 17, 2014

Hardliners in Israel, in Iran and in Congress are in the minority, it seems.

May 12, 2014

The IAEA chief's recent remarks refute the Israeli president's allegations of Iranian non-compliance with its nuclear commitments.

April 10, 2014

When the GOP threatened to cut national security ties with Russia over Ukraine, they put everyone’s safety on the line.

April 10, 2014

How shall we mark the anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? 

January 27, 2014