This essay was first published in the Palestine Chronicle 2009 04 06.
“So let me be clear…”
It was only a short news item, and it probably received much more commentary in the U.S. but on Canwest Global’s evening news (Sunday, April 05, Vancouver, Canada) was an item titled “Breaking the Rules”. This is quoting Obama’s comment that “North Korea broke the rules.” In order to be clear, I would need to know what rules are being referred to. Are they rules established under international law? Are they rules for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to which they never belonged? Or are they the continuing neocon rules that the ‘axis of evil’ should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons while the U.S. works towards first strike capability, helped in part by expanding its anti-missile ‘defences’?
As far as I know, there are no international rules for firing missiles into space, or even into the air. Perhaps he is referring to UN Resolution 1695 (2006) that says in part
3. Requires all Member States, in accordance with their national legal
authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to exercise vigilance and prevent missile and missile-related items, materials, goods and technology being transferred to DPRK’s missile or WMD programmes….
Otherwise there is only “grave concern” at
the launch of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), given the potential of such systems to be used as a means to deliver nuclear, chemical or biological payloads…
Certainly the world needs to have “grave concern” over ballistic missiles being launched, whether they are Indian, Pakistani, Israeli, Russian or from the United States, especially considering their ‘potential.’ Article 3 does not deny the launching of missiles, and perhaps there is a later resolution that “prohibits” rather than expresses “grave concern”, but for the need of clarity I could not find one.
Article 3 does refer broadly to the intent of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Yet all that does is demonstrate the double standards and hypocrisy of mainly the western countries. There are no sanctions against Pakistan, or India. For the latter, even though they are a ‘rogue’ state operating outside the NPT the U.S. has been negotiating with India to increase its nuclear production capacity. Nobody has dared to accost the Israeli’s over their nuclear arsenal, calculated to be on or above two hundred missile ready units by most sources; and they operate with impunity under an almost global media blackout concerning their arsenal.
The NPT also puts the impetus on the nuclear “members” to reduce their own arsenals that now still have dozens of thousands of active weapons globally. There has been no action on this as the U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France, and China still have plenty of overkill potential for the world. Sarkozy to his credit has stated that France would reduce its airborne arsenal (while retaining its seaborne capacity) saying what was left was an “insurance policy.” Not very assuring.
Obama did call for “concrete steps” to reduce its nuclear arsenal. A good call, but the U.S. has ignored much of the NPT ‘rules’ for so long that until it makes a significant unilateral change towards lowering its nuclear weapons, the double standards will remain – and they may well remain even if arsenals are reduced.
“Make no mistake…”
… nothing is clear. The U.S. and Russia remain the greatest nuclear weapons states in the world. It will be up to them to lead and begin eliminating their weapons. It is up to them to demonstrate their ability to abide by “international rules” and then perhaps the “rogues” of the world will follow suit.
Pakistan is the next big mistake, a nuclear armed factional Muslim country that is now being drawn into the ever widening “war on terror”. I have always found it interesting how terror ebbs and flows around the edges of empires, whether ancient empires or the current U.S. empire and remnants of the Russian empire. Pakistan is outside the NPT but is considered a U.S. ally, the place that gave birth to the Taliban with much U.S. assistance.
Iran is another mistake in the making if the U.S. government continues to leave “all options” on the table, and regardless of Obama’s call for talks - without mentioning the historical errors of deposing the democratically elected Mossadegh government and supporting the brutality of the Shah’s regime. Its potential for negative interaction with Israel’s arsenal leaves large areas of non-clarity hanging in the wind. Without comment or pressure from the U.S., Israel remains free to do as it pleases, and with Avigdor Liberman flaunting his status as Foreign Minister, the incendiary talk will probably only increase from that perspective.
There is nothing that is really clear. Obama talks a wonderful line but I need to see some action, I need to see more than equitable contributions by the U.S to the NPT as it has the most powerful military in the world. So yes, be clear, be specific, but we also need to see “concrete actions” that will include the elimination of the double standards that ‘rule’ the nuclear club.