Monday, March 06, 2006

Nukes, No Nukes

Good NYTimes article on the implications of Bush's visit to India and Pakistan.

And here's another piece that asks whether the nuclear deal with India is smart or reckless.

The more I think about it, the more I think this is a good deal, because it points toward international dialogue as the way to decide who should be recognized as a valid nuclear weapon country. For me, this whole India process has exposed what an unwieldy tool the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is, and how unstable the treaty's foundations really are.

Said another way, many people object to India being recognized as a nuclear weapons state because it undermines the effectiveness of the NPT. But when you look at it, under the NPT, membership in the club of nuclear weapons countries is determined solely by who got there first, which hardly seems an adequate criterion. It's not about democracy or record of peacefulness.

Now, the NPT has spawned good tools for slowing proliferation (i.e. IAEA inspections), which is a very good thing. But by itself the NPT is a poor substitute for international dialogue on who should or should not be a nuclear weapon country.

And while the NPT may have slowed nonproliferation, it clearly hasn't stopped it. Now we have all these cases of states that have some degree of nuclear weapon capability, and under the binary model of the NPT, we can only say "No. Bad. No nukes for anyone after 1970." Unfortunately, this shackles the international community from effectively dealing with those countries in gray areas (Israel, India, and Pakistan, to name three) or those in almost black areas (North Korea and Iran). Shouldn't the international community be able to say, "you and you are ok, provided you take these steps, but you guys over here are going the wrong way."

Additionally, as long as the NPT is the sole treaty governing nonproliferation and disarmament, it will only underline the power imbalance between nuclear haves and have-nots, much to the chagrin of the have-nots. This situation galvanizes a number of the "have-not" countries to develop nuclear weapons technology (by any means necessary) because they perceive they will then be taken seriously and/or seen as a "great" power.

So perhaps it's right to say inspections are good, nonproliferation is good, but change happens and we're going to talk about it. That would also give the international community flexibility to apply different kinds of sanctions for different countries.

Perhaps the best lesson of the U.S. / India nuclear agreement should be that the world needs to start talking about nuclear disarmament. If the only nukes that existed were for energy supply and all parts sold were registered with the IAEA, period, then the use of centrifuges, etc could be more easily tracked. I believe the Atlantic Monthly said that AQ Khan was able to construct Pakistan's program because there were so many dual-use technologies around and he took advantage of gray areas. We need to get to a place where all nuclear facilities are inspected, because all are solely for civilian purposes, and there are fewer of these gray areas.

(By the way, as ever, all these opinions are strictly my own rambling thoughts, and they are not connected in any way with U.S. State Department policy. I'm speaking only as a citizen trying to understand the world.)

Now, the next question: what is Congress going to say? I think they'll go along, just based on what the newspapers here are saying. Anyone disagree?

11 Comments:

At 12:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHY CANT YOU GET IT INTO YOUR HEADS THAT ISLAM IS THE RELIGION OF ABRAHAM, MOSES, JESUS AND MUHAMMAD (PEACE BE UPON THEM ALL).
THINK ABOUT IT HOW COULD AN ILLITERATE MAN INSPIRE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE AND 1400 YEARS LATER STILL BE HAVING AN EFFECT ON THE WORLD.

WAKE UP FEAR THE GOD OF ISRAEL AND THE UNIVERSE.

AS A WESTENER THE RATE OF ISLAMS INFLUENCE IS SKY ROCKETING ESPECIALLY IN EUROPE. SO STOP BURYING YOUR HEADS IN THE SAND (no pun intended) LIKE OSTRICHES.
STOP DEMONISING THE FUTURE FAITH OF MANKIND.
IF ISLAM IS AN ARAB RELIGION FOUNDED BY AN ARAB IT WOULD NOT HAVE SPREAD FURTHER THAN MECCA OR MEDINA.

YOU MAY READ THE TORAH AND THE BIBLE BUT I DARE YOU TO READ THE QURAN JUST AS A PURELY INTELLECTUAL EXERCISE.
WE IN THE WEST PREACH THAT WE ARE CIVILISED AND AN ADVANCED SOCIETY. EVERY DAY I WITNESS SCIENTISTS WHOM I WORK ALONGSIDE ABANDON SIMPLE LOGIC AND REASONING WHEN IT COMES TO MATTERS OF FAITH.

 
At 3:53 AM, Blogger Alizarin said...

Anyway, moving on ...

I agree that it is an inherently unfair treaty. Increasingly unenforceable too. It still seems like a good idea, though, just because we don't want just anyone to be able to lob a nuclear weapon at us. I sure don't. I am sure that before India got the bomb, Pakistan was all for the NPT.

If there were a fairer treaty, how would we decide whom to sanction? States who already had nuclear energy but who went and made a nuclear bomb without permission? Isn't that a little late?

(I am putting this simply just because there is so much I don't know about the topic.)

I agree that disarmament is the best way to go. Nobody should have gotten this bomb in the first place. But the knowledge is out there now ("the ability to end civilizations," as McNamara said) ... if anyone could choose, wouldn't they want to be the last one to disarm?

 
At 5:58 AM, Blogger Crawdad said...

Anonymous, are you responding to anything that I wrote?? I don't see the connection. Did I even write anything about Islam here?

If not, please do not leave flame mail, especially anonymously.

 
At 8:28 AM, Blogger Editfish said...

It appears you just got spammed. Check your blog comments settings; you should be able to choose whether people can comment anonymously or not, and also turn on word verification. That prevents automated posting...er, spamming.

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Crawdad said...

Thanks E'fish. I know I have at least one reader from Palestine (hello!), and I actually would love to have a little more conversation from thoughtful people on Islam. But the above is just spam. So sad...

I'll check into the changes you mentioned.

 
At 10:52 PM, Anonymous shrinkwrap said...

I'll take care of him....

 
At 10:53 PM, Anonymous shrinkwrap said...

Since I am logging on from an unfamiliar location, I'm not sure this will be posted...but shrinkwarp says hi.

 
At 8:06 AM, Anonymous dz said...

I'm sorry that the spam derailed this conversation, 'cause its pretty interesting. I gotta side with Alizarin on this though.

Your point that the NPT is unfair is certainly true, but it's not a potent argument toward undermining even a marginal protection against proliferation. I didn't see or hear of a whole of "international dialog" going on before W showed up and invited India under the tent of US nuclear technology. Did I miss it? If it does now, its a silver lining in W's inept foreign policy (like, for example, a South America pushed to explore a growing independence from the US).

What I don't understand is what the motivation is in the Bush administration to do this now. Was India about to wander from our sway? Does Pakistan need to be reminded that it is a second class ally? Does Iran or North Korea need confirmation that having the bomb means being treated with respect and has no negative repercussions in the long run? My conspiratorial streak can't help but chime in that someone close to old W is going to make some serious dough off this deal.

 
At 7:28 AM, Blogger Cassandro said...

Nukes, smukes, just let me at those mangos! (mangoes?)

St. Patrick's day drunken poem:

Rounds
Carol Ann Duffy


Eight pints
of lager, please,
and, of draught Guinness, nine;
two glasses of pale ale—a squeeze
of lemon in that port—a dry white wine,
four rums, three G-and-T’s, a vodka—that’s the lot.
On second thoughts, you’d better give me one more double scotch.

A half
of scrumpy here,
and over there a stout.
I think we’re ready for more beer;
ten brandies, three martinis—no, my shout!
A triple advocaat with lemonade and lime
and six Bacardis—make that twelve, I’ve just noticed the time.

Six calves
of Harlsberg—fast—
pine bitter shandies—tents—
and make the landies barge; a vast
treasure of mipple X, ten meme de crenthes,
nine muddy blaries and, of winger gine, a wealth.
Got that? And then the rame again all sound and one yourself.

 
At 8:31 PM, Blogger Crawdad said...

Click here for a good discussion by the Washington Post of the US-India Nuclear Deal. I think it neatly describes why this is such a goal for the Bush Administration and why it so rattles the non-proliferation community. Here are two (neo-con? real politik? pro-democracies?) pieces of the article:

A New Approach
During the 2000 presidential campaign, Rice indicated that a future Bush administration would take a new approach to India. In an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, she said that "India is not a great power yet, but it has the potential to emerge as one" and pointedly noted that "India is an element in China's calculation, and it should be in America's, too."

Rice was national security adviser during Bush's first term and Robert D. Blackwill, one of her closest associates during the campaign, was named ambassador to India. As early as October 2001, he cabled Washington urging a rethinking of nuclear policy toward India, said Ashley Tellis, a Bombay-born expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former aide to Blackwill. But former secretary of state Colin L. Powell had endorsed a more incremental approach to increasing sensitive trade with India. "We also have to protect certain red lines that we have with respect to proliferation," he said in a 2003 interview.

During Rice's confirmation process, she was asked in a written questionnaire whether the administration anticipated that Congress would need to change laws regarding India policy. She answered no.

But within weeks, U.S. officials say, the White House decided to sell F-16 jets to Pakistan. Rice went to New Delhi to break the news -- and to cushion the blow by offering India the prospect of a broader strategic relationship, including military, economic and even nuclear cooperation.

Rice's presentation, while still vague about the specifics, sent shockwaves through New Delhi. "As Rice put across an unprecedented framework for cooperation with India, the establishment in Delhi was stunned," according to "Impossible Allies," a book on the deal by Indian journalist C. Raja Mohan, published last month in India. "Few had expected Rice to go this far."

From the Indian perspective, the partnership Rice suggested offered a way to finally remove the nuclear impediment to closer ties with the United States. "If you are going to be looking at India as a partner . . . then you have to treat India as a partner and not as a target," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said. "Both these things cannot be done together."

Because of international restrictions, India's nuclear program is largely homegrown, cut off from international markets. This has hobbled India's use of nuclear power -- it provides only about 3 percent of installed electricity capacity -- and left it desperate for energy as its economy has soared.

A key designer of the new approach was Philip Zelikow, Rice's counselor and longtime colleague. Upon Rice's return from Asia, Zelikow began exchanging memos with Tellis, resulting in a 50-page "action agenda" for U.S.-Indian relations completed in mid-May.

The paper promoted geostrategic cooperation between the two countries rooted strongly in U.S. defense and military sales to India as a way to counter China's influence. "If the United States is serious about advancing its geopolitical objectives in Asia, it would almost by definition help New Delhi develop strategic capabilities such that India's nuclear weaponry and associated delivery systems could deter against the growing and utterly more capable nuclear forces Beijing is likely to possess by 2025," Tellis wrote.

...

Last month, Bush and Singh agreed on an implementation plan specifying that 14 of India's 22 nuclear plants would be subject to international inspections. But the country's eight other reactors, and any future ones for military purposes, would be off-limits. And although the Bush administration originally wanted a pact that would let India continue producing material for six to 10 weapons each year, the plan would allow it enough fissile material for as many as 50 annually.

U.S. officials said Bush had kept his focus on a core idea -- that India is a thriving, pluralistic democracy, one of the good guys in international relations -- and thus was willing to sweep away nuclear orthodoxy. The goal, an official said, was to position India to be one of the United States' two or three closest partners.

Only after the announcement did the administration begin to brief members of Congress. One U.S. official involved in the negotiations said the failure to consult with Congress or to build support for the agreement within the bureaucracy has created lasting problems: "The way they jammed it through is going to haunt us."

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger Alizarin said...

This thread is old by now, but I just found the later entries, and ... oh, my aching head!

Thanks Crawd for posting the article excerpt. This administration reminds me more and more of Augustus', with his contempt for Congress.

But more and more, what is the long-term plan behind arming one country to act as a buffer against another? Isn't this Iran vs. Iraq on a much larger scale? That one was a corker.

Non-proliferation seems inherently hypocritical because it allows some people to keep the bomb and make new ones while saying that having the bomb and making bombs is bad. There must be some subtle reason why nuclear weapons are not just declared illegal across the board, because it sounds like a really good idea. At least then, the rhetoric would make sense. We'd have to hide our bombs, and so would anyone else. Everyone would be subject to fuel-enrichment monitors if they wanted the "miracle of clean electricity." Monitoring might even start to work, if it got standardized.

 

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