(Photo Credit: United Nations Photostream)
Another nuclear conference is on the horizon. That’s right – the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons – a once-every-five-years gathering of the nearly 200 parties to the treaty – begins next week and lasts through May 28.
Wright’s entire piece is worth reading, but one theme I want to highlight is Wright’s emphasis on the harmful legacy of the Bush years – a problem particularly acute in the nuclear non-proliferation arena.
In particular, Wright takes aim at the Bush administration for its nuclear agreement with India (a non-signatory to the NPT) and its opposition to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Here is what he says:
In 2006 President Bush reached a deal with India — which had refused to join the treaty and built nuclear weapons instead — that actually gave India American nuclear technology!
Though the assistance was to the civilian part of India’s nuclear program, the deal frees up resources for India to build more nuclear weapons should it decide to. So the message from Bush was: If you stay out of the treaty so you can build nuclear weapons, we’ll help you build even more — so long as you’re our friend. And, since the India deal remains intact, so does that message.
The Bush administration also opposed ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which would keep us, and the rest of the world, from setting off nuclear explosions for test purposes (and which, notwithstanding hawk hysterics, wouldn’t erode the strength of our nuclear arsenal). This is one reason that the last nonproliferation treaty review conference, in 2005, collapsed in acrimony. (For a fuller sense of how thoroughly Bush undermined the 2005 conference, read the third paragraph of this.)
With reference to Iran, Wright also calls for a more principled American position on nuclear weapons:
But, believe it or not, not everyone shares America’s views of which nations seem responsible and restrained. Some Indians aren’t sure Pakistanis are responsible stewards of nuclear weapons (and might say, as we say about Iran, that Pakistan sponsors terrorism). Among some Pakistanis the feelings are mutual. And there are Arabs who consider Israel manifestly capable of disproportionate response to provocation.
The point isn’t that these Indians, Pakistanis and Arabs are right. The point is that if you’re serious about international laws and norms, you have to make their application independent of judgment calls like this. Otherwise you wind up looking as if you’re just saying that your friends can have nukes and their friends can’t, which leads to annoyance.
Wright’s full piece can be read here.
– Ben Katcher