When Bill Clinton became President, there were
five acknowledged nuke-armed states – the United States, United Kingdom, France,
China and Russia. Back in in the late 1960s those five states had persuaded
about 150 other states that didn’t have nukes to become signatories to the Treaty
on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The NPT was viewed – then and now – by those other states as having three "pillars"
- a promise by the NPT nuke-states to eventually dispose of nukes
- an affirmation of the inalienable right of all other NPT states to the peaceful
uses of nuclear energy "without discrimination"
- a mechanism for verifying that nuclear energy was not being diverted from
peaceful to military purposes.
The NPT required those signatories not yet having nukes to negotiate a Safeguards
Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency – an existing United Nations
agency already charged with facilitating the widest possible international transfer
of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes – for the "exclusive purpose"
of "verifying" that certain proscribed materials were not "diverted"
to a military purpose.
With the Cold War over, Clinton accelerated the nuke dismantlement process
begun by his predecessor.
Clinton also attempted to get the Indians and Pakistanis to become signatories
to the NPT and to get every NPT signatory to agree to its indefinite extension.
Well, Clinton told them that if everyone signed the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty then – without testing – there could be no new nuke states
and that eventually – without testing – the five acknowledged nuke states would
effectively be disarmed.
Furthermore, in 1995 Clinton got the Security Council to pass UNSC Resolution
984 which, inter
alia, formally expressed the "intention" of the nuke states to
"provide or support immediate assistance" to any non-nuke NPT signatory
that is "a victim" of an act – or a threat of an act – of aggression
"in which nuclear weapons are used."
Clinton was, thereby, able to get NPT signatories to agree in 1995 on the indefinite
extension of the NPT.
But, Clinton did not get the Senate to ratify the CTBT, nor get the
Indians and Pakistanis to become NPT signatories. In fact, in the spring of
1998 both India and Pakistan conducted multiple tests of nuclear weapons, thereby
increasing the number of acknowledged nuke states to seven.
Upon becoming president, under our Constitution, George Bush was bound by those
commitments – ratified by the Senate – to "facilitate" the widest
possible transfer of nuclear materials, equipment and technology to no-nuke
NPT signatories and to come to their "immediate assistance" in the
event someone threatened them with nukes.
Hence, if the Bush-Cheney regime-change coalition wanted to renege on our commitments
to help Iran establish a complete nuclear fuel cycle, or wanted to provide Russia
some excuse for not coming to Iran’s assistance in the event the Bush-Cheney
regime-change coalition nuked – or threatened to nuke – Iran, it would be necessary
to somehow get Iran to withdraw from the NPT.
Well, Bush-Cheney-Bolton-Rice did their best, but failed, miserably.
In fact, Iran is now generally acknowledged – by the Arab League, the Gulf
Cooperation Council, the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, the Non-Aligned Movement’s
Ministers, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference – to be a principal
defender of the NPT, at the 2005 NPT Review Conference, and in pleadings made
before the UN Security Council and at quarterly meetings of the IAEA Board of
Who is generally acknowledged to be the principal enemy of the NPT and the
associated IAEA and Nuclear Suppliers Group nuke proliferation-prevention regime?
We are, especially since Bush became president.
Well, as of this writing, Bush has not actually "taken out" Iran’s
IAEA Safeguarded programs. In any case, the Russians and/or Chinese would not
be required to come to Iran’s immediate assistance unless Bush nukes – or threatens
to nuke – Iran.
But what about Bush’s potential successors?
At a recent "debate,"
moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the GOP candidates "If it came down to a preemptive
U.S. strike against Iran’s nuclear facility, if necessary would you authorize
as president the use of tactical nuclear weapons?"
Notice that Blitzer asked about a preemptive strike against Iran’s [Safeguarded]
Representative Duncan Hunter replied "I would authorize the use of tactical
nuclear weapons if there was no other way to preempt those particular centrifuges."
Notice Hunter threatened to nuke an IAEA Safeguarded facility.
So, if Hunter succeeds Bush, the Russians and Chinese had better put their
ICBMs on "red alert."
Blitzer phrased the question somewhat differently to other GOP candidates.
In particular he asked Governor Mitt Romney "I want to get you on the record.
Do you agree with the mayor, the governor, others here, that the use of tactical
nuclear weapons, potentially, would be possible if that were the only way to
stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb?"
Notice that is a doubly hypothetical question. There is no evidence whatsoever
that Iran is developing a "nuclear bomb." Hence, there can be no way
of determining that the only way to stop whatever it is they’re not doing is
to nuke them.
So, how did Romney answer the doubly hypothetical question?
Quoth Romney, "You don’t take options off the table."
But the Constitution requires – the "law of the land" requires –
that so long as the IAEA continues to 'verify" that no Iranian Safeguarded
materials have been diverted to a military purpose, the option of nuking – or
threatening to nuke – Iran must be taken off the table.
Representative Ron Paul – as you might have expected – went even farther. When
asked by Blitzer what the most pressing moral issue in America is right now,
"I think it is the acceptance just recently that we now promote preemptive
war. I do not believe that’s part of the American tradition.
"But now we have accepted the principle of preemptive war. We have
rejected the "just war" theory of Christianity."
"And now, tonight, we hear that we’re not even willing to remove from
the table a preemptive nuclear strike against a country that has done no harm
to us directly and is no threat to our national security!"
On the basis of his recent
comments, it appears Senator Barack Obama may have – may have – reached
a similar conclusion.