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Old 08-06-2004, 03:43 AM   #1
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Washington's Gift to Bomb Makers

NY TImes

Washington's Gift to Bomb Makers

Published: August 6, 2004
There is no bigger and more urgent threat to the security of every American than the possibility of nuclear bomb materials falling into the wrong hands. That is why it is astonishing, and frightening, that the Bush administration is now pushing to strip the teeth from a proposed new treaty aimed at expanding the current international bans on the production of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium. With talks on the new treaty set to begin later this year, the administration suddenly announced last week that it would insist that no provisions for inspections or verification be included.

This reversal of past American positions - ignoring Ronald Reagan's famous cautionary advice, "Trust, but verify'' - is all the more disturbing because it guts a treaty that could have significantly advanced President Bush's oft-stated goal of "keeping the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous regimes.'' After raising the alarm on this terrifying problem, the White House now says Americans and the rest of the world are better off trusting empty, unverified promises.

The agreement, the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, would, for the first time, ban all countries from producing highly enriched uranium or plutonium for nuclear weapons. It would cover the four countries that do not subscribe to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty: North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel. And it would apply to the five officially recognized nuclear weapons nations, including the United States; they would be allowed to retain and use only their current inventories.

No treaty has ever been or will be foolproof. But a strong fissile materials treaty would help dry up international nuclear-trafficking networks - like the one set up by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani bomb designer - and make it harder for North Korea to go into the business of exporting plutonium and enriched uranium. But the treaty could not achieve these vitally important goals without credible verification provisions, like on-site inspections.

The Bush administration argues, unpersuasively, that such inspections might interfere with making fuel for American nuclear submarines and might allow foreign inspectors to glimpse secret American nuclear technology. To the extent that these are legitimate concerns, it would be better to try to persuade other nations to grant narrowly tailored exemptions instead of eliminating inspections. Washington also claims that an enforceable treaty would generate a false sense of security and that it would be easier to get other countries to sign an unenforceable one. Those are generic arguments that can be deployed against any enforceable arms control treaty. They ignore the enormous positive trade-offs of a verifiable fissile materials treaty, like strict limits on the material available for making nuclear weapons.

We live in a world where no nation has a monopoly on bomb technology. The most effective remaining way to curb the spread of nuclear weapons to growing numbers of countries and terrorist groups is to impose strict, verifiable international controls on the production of nuclear bomb ingredients. The Bush administration prefers a treaty that endorses nuclear virtue but that then averts its eyes.
Great article

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Old 08-09-2004, 08:19 PM   #2
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Originally posted by Klaus
NY TImes

Washington's Gift to Bomb Makers

Published: August 6, 2004

Great article
This article was published, of course, on the 59th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima.

In general, I'm inclined to agree with the article -- nuclear weapons are a much bigger asset to rogue nations and terrorists than to the rest of the world.
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