Bush not a Reliable Nuclear Judge

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tad Daley 

Active Image
US President, George W. Bush

America's standard for saying which countries can have nuclear power is simple: Countries it likes can have it. Countries it dislikes can't.

Some call the phenomenon "America's nuclear hypocrisy." Others call it the "nuclear double standard," others still call it "nuclear narcissism." But Iranian President, Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, often calls it "nuclear apartheid."

Let's remember two recent passings. One Paul Tibbets' death, commander of the US Army Air Forces B-29, which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, that killed at least 80,000 people, and the other Randall Forsberg, the genius behind the 1982 Central Park nuclear freeze rally, which the New York Times called the largest political demonstration in American history, both died, ironically, within just a few days of each other.

Let's also remember two separate remarks made by Bush administration officials, UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and deputy State Department spokesman Tom Casey, who made simultaneous remarks the day before Tibbets died that illuminated the nuclear double standards more starkly than ever.

This time it was not, as it usually is, the divergence between the rules of the game for countries like Iran (nuclear weapons permitted: zero) and for countries like the US (nuclear weapons presently possessed: 10,000-plus with concrete plans to design, develop and deploy new and improved nuclear weapon models).

No, this time it was the double standard between the US expectations for countries it likes and those for countries it doesn't like.

First, on Oct. 29, Khalilzad repeated the formulation about Iran that has been expressed many times by many Bush administration voices. "Given the record of this regime, the rhetoric of this regime, the policies of this regime, the connections of this regime, it cannot be acceptable for it to develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons."

It was a wearyingly familiar argument. Therefore, the US assessment of the character of the countries determines whether it will permit them to pursue a nuclear "capability."

But on the same day that Khalilzad made his statement, America's good friend Egypt announced that it intended to build several new nuclear power plants over the next several decades. Washington was quick to indicate that it did not disapprove.

"Any country that fulfills its obligations under the NPT and follows proper IAEA safeguards will have a program that is perfectly acceptable to us," said Casey.

The Bush administration's standard for Iran has never been simply that it must fully cooperate with the IAEA. It demands, instead, that Tehran cease all uranium enrichment activities. Had Khalilzad said "develop nuclear weapons" instead of "develop the capability to produce nuclear weapons," he would perhaps not have found himself standing on such very thin ice.

As a matter of fact, the NPT forbids non-nuclear signatories like Iran and Egypt from acquiring nuclear weapons, not from acquiring the enrichment capabilities that can be used for peaceful purposes. However, Article IV explicitly acknowledges that all parties possess an "inalienable right" to pursue nuclear energy "without discrimination."

From the view point of the American politicians it is becoming more and more apparent that Article IV was a fundamental flaw in the original terms of the NPT itself. But that flaw is hardly Iran's fault or Iran's problem.

Just the day before Khalilzad and Casey made their remarks, IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei told Wolf Blitzer on CNN: "Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No." Therefore, bearing his remarks witness, no one can claim that Iran is deviating from the NPT safeguards and is after atomic weapons.

So contrary to Mr. Casey's declaration, the US government is hardly conceding that "any country" meeting his stated criteria is acting in a manner "perfectly acceptable to US." Because what Egypt announced at the end of October was that it intended to start doing exactly the same thing that Iran has already begun to do, nothing more and nothing less.

The Bush administration, instead, subjectively and unilaterally, is assessing the "record, rhetoric, policies and connections" of both Egypt and Iran, and pronouncing that the one may proceed down the nuclear road while the other may not.

The Rev. William Sloane Coffin, one of the great peace activists of the 20th century, who died last year, liked to quote Mahatma Gandhi, who said "a fat man cannot speak persuasively to a skinny man about the virtues of not overeating." To much of the world, US double standards appear sanctimonious, self-righteous, and based on a notion that some are inherently responsible enough to be "trusted" with these weapons of the apocalypse, while others are not.

President Bush himself, perhaps unwittingly, often manages to let slip this conceit of cultural superiority. "We owe it to our children," he said in August of 2002, "to free the world from weapons of mass destruction in the hands of those who hate freedom."

Here, surely, we have the most candid, unvarnished answer to the nuclear question. Some states are rational, sober, and righteous and can be trusted with the nuclear prize. Others are simply too volatile, too dangerous, too unpredictable to be permitted to venture down the same road.

However one may wonder who the Judge will be. Who will render ad hoc, case-by-case verdicts on whether certain leaders or people can be trusted with nuclear weapons? Who will serve as prosecutor, jury and enforcer?

Why the Freedom Lovers, of course, in whose hands nuclear weapons already reside, do not come to this conclusion that Iran is in accord with its obligations under the NPT and should have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.


طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم