vs. West: the nuclear and the unclear
NEW YORK - The world’s five declared nuclear powers —
the US, Britain, France, China and Russia — continue to swear
by the old cliche: Do as we say, but not as we do. And more importantly,
nuclear non-proliferation, Yes. But nuclear disarmament, No.
while holding onto their huge arsenal of nuclear weapons, the five
big powers just don't want others to have any. The argument would
be more valid if they dismantle all what they possess, and declare
the world should be nuclear-free.
five countries, holding veto powers as permanent members of the
Security Council, refused to penalize Israel, Pakistan and India
for going nuclear. But they are now going ballistic over Iran, and
taking a more measured and cautious approach over the wildly-belligerent
North Korea, which may be closer to achieving nuclear capability.
US and the European Union are leading the anti-Iran campaign despite
Iran’s assertion that it is developing a civilian nuclear
programme, not nuclear weapons.
a media briefing last week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was pointedly
asked about the nuclear double standards. Annan said that at the
World Summit in New York last September, he couldn't get a single
paragraph in the summit declaration on nuclear non-proliferation
and nuclear disarmament. “It was a real disappointment and
a real disgrace,” he said.
The attempt to throw in a paragraph was stalled by member states,
including the major nuclear powers. Annan admits that “the
nuclear issue is one of the difficult issues facing the international
if leadership is not shown, and we are not sending around the message
that we mean business when we talk of nuclear non-proliferation
and we mean business when we talk of disarmament, we are going to
be confronted with these problems. So I would hope that all is not
lost and that member states will still find some way, some energy
and creativity in reverting to this issue of nuclear non-proliferation
and disarmament, even during the course of this General Assembly
session. It is not too late”.
Annan knows well that this will not come to pass because at least
two of the nuclear powers — the US and Britain — are
continuing to fine-tune and strengthen their nuclear arsenals, not
diminishing their weapons.
Last week, France went one step further. President Jacques Chirac
openly declared that he would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons
against any state-sponsored terrorist strike against his country.
to reports coming out of Paris, this is the first time that a French
President had openly declared the possibility of a nuclear retaliation
for state-sponsored terrorism. Although he did not name names, the
threat was presumably directed at Iran which, according to the US
State Department, is on list of “terrorist states”.
New York Times quoted the French anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire
as saying that “far from ridding France of nuclear weapons,
the president is, on the contrary, considering the actual use of
nuclear bombs”. The threat can also, in effect, encourage
non-nuclear states to go nuclear either for their own defence or
their own survival.
is also a right wing neo-conservative view that the Bush administration
may be justified in using nuclear weapons against Iran to prevent
the country going nuclear. The argument sounds paradoxically bizarre.
But you cannot count anything in — or anything out —
among war mongers in the US.
Iranian nuclear issue will come up before the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) in Geneva on February 2. If the 35-member IAEA
Board decides to act against Iran, the matter will be referred to
the Security Council in New York.
the clincher will be at the Security Council where the US, Britain
and France are set to act against Iran. But both Russia and China,
the other two veto wielding members, are playing hard ball.
both countries have strong economic and military ties with Iran,
it is difficult to perceive that either Russia or China will vote
for sanctions against Iran. Every member state at the UN gives the
highest priority to safeguarding its own national interest. But
this can often fall by the wayside under political, diplomatic or
of the difficulties in getting Security Council blessings for economic
and military sanctions against Iran, the Bush administration is
testing the waters.
has already proclaimed it will not be intimidated because it can
survive UN sanctions. The Iranians have also warned that an oil
embargo will boomerang on the West triggering a hike in oil prices
in the world market and hurting Western economies. If Iraq is to
be taken as an example, economic sanctions in Iran could provoke
more anti-Western and anti-US resentment inside the country.
heavy-handed sanctions approach is going to hurt an awful lot of
Iranians that we don’t want to alienate,” a State Department
spokesman was quoted as saying last week. “We’re going
to have to be more surgical”.