Claiming Defence Only to Proliferate
February 02, 2004
Bangkok Post News
The world should be shocked into action by the discovery of banned nuclear facilities inside newly neighbourly Libya and suddenly cooperative Iran. A few antagonistic countries insist on the right to develop terrible weapons systems in secret. People may say that international inspections by suspicious nuclear experts violate national sovereignty. The correct reply from now on must be to ask what they have to hide.
The world has a right to an answer to this pertinent question. North Korea has recently invited groups to observe its nuclear weapons programme and seems closer to playing the extortion card than ever. The administration has told private groups it is on the verge of testing nuclear weapons. The regime could be dissuaded from these tests by large and generous amounts of aid, along with promises to leave Pyongyang alone. Diplomats hope negotiations can bring a solution. Others, undiplomatically, properly call the Pyongyang position nuclear blackmail.
The truth is international agreements on proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons have broken down because of a tiny minority of rogues. Almost all countries not only welcome inspections by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, they facilitate them. Almost all countries report honestly and properly on their stocks of terrible weapons. Almost all countries report the labs, equipment and personnel they have to build the worst weapons.
No weapons treaty, however, contains enforcement procedures. For some 30 years, Libya flaunted rules on chemical and nuclear weapons. Now, Tripoli has seen the advantages of cooperation, and will reap the rewards of membership in the international community once again. North Korea is the best known country trafficking in illegal weapons. It threatens neighbours, conducts business with the worst types of governments and groups, and greatly harms its own people.
There also are cases like Taiwan and Israel, whose governments maintain terrible weapons secretly in the questionable name of national defence. Superpowers can also contribute. Last week, nuclear power China decided to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which monitors and restricts the proliferation of weapons and the technology to build them.
In recent weeks, the United States, Japan and South Korea have said little about the Pyongyang part of the ``axis of evil''. Washington has properly treated Iraq, Iran and North Korea as separate cases. Clearly, the hope is that China can convince its long-time ally that its best hope is to cooperate with the world. It is likely the dictator Kim Jong-il can survive yet another winter by scraping up income through aid _ including from Washington _ and illegal, covert weapons sales like the recent Scud missiles smuggled to Yemen.
Mr Kim is most worried about his survival. In fact, while his fall and the collapse of his regime would be welcomed in decent circles everywhere, the fallout from a Pyongyang political implosion would be massive. A far more attractive solution would see a change of policy in Pyongyang, where the nuclear programme and illicit weapons sales halt immediately, in return for which the world would help North Korea develop into a responsible and economically improving state.
The time has come to challenge and to rein in the tiny handful of rogue nations using the pretext of national defence to proliferate. The world must face Pyongyang and a number of other uncooperative countries with more determination. North Korea has the right to develop a system of national defence. Every country has the duty to defend its borders and thus its citizens. In these dangerous days, however, no country has the right to challenge peace and stability. http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/02Feb2004_news28.html
posted on 02/02/2004 12:23:01 AM PST
(Until they are Free, "We shall all be Iranians!")
To the person who mentioned the fact that Israel (and Taiwan) have nuclear weapons. Yes, it is known that we (Israel) have such weapons, as does the United States. But you should know that in our hands - as with the U.S. - it is a weapon of (G-d forbid) last resort. In the hands of rogue states it is something to fear. Know, too, that the young people of Iran are supporters of both the U.S. and Israel. After the earthquake at Bam, when it was heard that the U.S. and Israel wanted to help, sounds of "Love live Israel, long live The U.S." were heard in the streets until the people yelling this were arrested.
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