Sunday :: Aug 1, 2004

Bush and the nuclear threat


by soccerdad

An article in SF Gate, U.S. changes policy on nuke pact, got me to thinking about the commitment of the Bush administation to reducing the threat from nuclear weapons.

briefly, at an arms control meeting this past week theBushadministration would no longer support verification, i.e.would no longer support inspections to assess compliance with treaty provisions. They said that:
such a system would cost too much, would require overly intrusive inspections and would not guarantee compliance with the treaty. They declined, however, to explain in detail how they believed U.S. security would be harmed by creating a plan to monitor the treaty.

Later the state department said:
an internal review had concluded that an inspection regime "would have been so extensive that it could compromise key signatories' core national security interests and so costly that many countries will be hesitant to accept it."

On the face of it, this makes absoultly no sense. One only has to look at the North Korean situation over the last year or so. A treaty such as this that is not verifiable is close to useless. What core national security interests would be compromised by inspections except those that we didn't want everyone to know about and were against treaty provisions..

In my mind, this raises two broad issues: First what is the Bush commitment to halting the spread of nuclear weapons and materials beyond political grandstanding. Second, what is going on in the US with regards to development of nuclear weapons and technology that we would not want everyone to know about.


So, I am going to take a brief look at some of the actions of the Bush administration in order to gain some perspective on how nuclear non-proliferation fits into their thinking. Then I will provide some information on activities within the US weapons program to see we gain gain further insight into their actions. Finally, I will pose some hypotheses and questions. I encourage everyone to make constructive comments that will help everyone understand the issues.

Question: How does the Bush administration treat countries that are known to have spread nuclear weapons?

Seymour Hersh in a very disconcerting article in the New Yorker, THE DEAL:Why is Washington going easy on Pakistan’s nuclear black marketers?, details pakistan's role in spreading nuclear wepons technology. I highly recommend this article.

Briefly, it has been widely known in intelligence circles that Pakistan has spread nuclear weapons technology all over the globe. In Feb, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is revered in Pakistan as the father of the country’s nuclear bomb, admitted that he help transfer nuclear technology to a number of countries over a period of at least 10 years. He claimed to have done it without the governments knowledge, a claim that is universially dismissed as false by intelligence agencies.

His confession was accepted by a stony-faced Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s President, who is a former Army general, and who dressed for the occasion in commando fatigues. The next day, on television again, Musharraf, who claimed to be shocked by Khan’s misdeeds, nonetheless pardoned him, citing his service to Pakistan (he called Khan “my hero”). Musharraf told the Times that he had received a specific accounting of Khan’s activities in Iran, North Korea, and Malaysia from the United States only last October. “If they knew earlier, they should have told us,” he said. “Maybe a lot of things would

Hersh details how this claim by Musharraf is simply not true, and that the US knows better. here is the reponse of the US:

In public, the Bush Administration accepted the pardon at face value. Within hours of Musharraf’s television appearance, Richard Armitage, the Deputy Secretary of State, praised him as “the right man at the right time.” Armitage added that Pakistan had been “very forthright in the last several years with us about proliferation.” A White House spokesman said that the Administration valued Musharraf’s assurances that “Pakistan was not involved in any of the proliferation activity.” A State Department spokesman said that how to deal with Khan

Also Bush elevated Pakistan to "major non-NATO ally" status. The quid pro quo appears to be that Bush will forget about the nuclear proliferation and elevate the relationship between the US and pakistan to a higher level if in return they help with alQaeda that are in Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan. The US has also sought Pakistan's help with Afghanistan and Iraq.

So non-proliferation takes a back seat to more immediate needs and concerns. Certainly Bush would not be the first US president to make such a decision. However, it's important to understand that one of the reasons we need Pakistan's help so badly in Afghanistan is that the US decided to place its resources in Iraq and not finish the job in Afghanistan. As a result, Afghanistan may be on the verge of imploding according to an British report. Bad decisions have a way of multiplying producing bad outcomes on multiple fronts.

It is possible that Bush use this incident to pressure Pakistan into coming to the table to be a part of the non-proliferation treaty talks. Then again without verification does this matter?

Question: How does Bush treat countries that have nuclear weapons. Its all over the place. Make up evidence for Iraq and invade. Ignore N. Korea, then refuse to negotiate, then start to negoiate. Threaten Iran with military strikes, which may actually be carried out by Israel. Ignore completely the fact that Israel has a nuclear weapons program.

It seems to me that in order to have real non-proliferation, policy needs to be comprehensive and uniform. If you are the leaders of Iran and you know Israel has nukes and the US which is now in Iraq has nukes what do you do? You most likely speed up your program in order to protect yourself and have a bargaining chip.

Question: what is Bush's record on nuclear treaties?

On June 13, 2002 The Us officially withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. In response the Heritage Foundation hosted a "celebration" of the imminent demise of the ABM Treaty featuring John Bolton, the Bush administration's virulently anti-arms control Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. Link .

Bush was also talking up his new treaty with Putin. Under the terms of the agreement, each side will reduce its operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 2,200 by 2012.

..... the fact is that the treaty would impose a binding limit on operational U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear forces for only one day -- December 31, 2012. Before and after that date, the number of nuclear warheads mounted on strategic nuclear missiles and bombers may exceed the treaty's maximum "limit" of 2,200 warheads in operation. The treaty likewise contains no limit on the number of warheads that may be kept in storage as a "reserve" force, meaning that potentially thousands of weapons on both sides could be remounted on missiles and bombers within weeks or months. "The whole framework of restraint is so tenuous, it could unwind rather swiftly," said Matthew McKinzie, an NRDC staff scientist.

Moreover, the treaty does nothing to constrain or eliminate stockpiles of nonstrategic nuclear weapons deliverable by shorter-range systems, such as cruise missiles, battlefield missiles, artillery and tactical aircraft. Further, the treaty imposes no timetable for removing warheads from operational missiles, bombers or submarines. The United States and Russia must comply with the 2,200-warhead limit only on the last day of 2012, after which the treaty expires. Link

So this is Bush's idea of a treaty that 'liquidate the nuclear legacy of the Cold War' .

Bush also opossed the comprehensive test ban treaty.

Bush opposes the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which the GOP-controlled Senate refused to ratify in 1999. By opposing this treaty, the Bush Administration retains its power to test a new class of smaller nuclear weapons underground. Specifically, the Bush administration has supported the development of small nuclear weapons known as "bunker busters" for possible use in Afghanistan. Link

Question: What has Bush done concerning US weapons program?

In 2003, acting on a Bush request Congress passed almost without debate $6 billion in new money for financing multiyear programs to design a new generation of warheads as well as more sophisticated missiles, bombers and re-entry vehicles to deliver them.

The Bush administration has argued that the new doctrine and new weapons are needed because the world has changed since the Cold War, when the United States deterred the Soviet Union from striking by developing a massive arsenal that promised complete annihilation. Now, the administration argues, there are new, regional menaces from such countries as North Korea and Iran.

To deter those threats, the administration is seeking a new stockpile of both some Cold War-era warheads and new, smaller weapons that can be used for limited attacks and for destroying caches of weapons of mass destruction, especially in buried bunkers, without causing indiscriminate destruction and loss of life. It has also proposed a policy of possible pre-emptive first use of nuclear weapons in emergencies, even against non-nuclear states.

A recent study entitled "Missiles of Empire: America's 21st Century Global Legions," by Lichterman of the Western States Legal Foundation highlights not only the administration's push for new kinds of warheads, but also the billions it is planning to spend on reducing the time it would take to launch a nuclear strike and on a new generation of missile re-entry vehicles, among other things. The re-entry vehicles would allow the military to steer warheads toward targets, even moving targets, entering the atmosphere from space. Link

Finally, it has been well documented and publicized that the US is spending Billionsof dollars to develop and deploy the anti-ballistic missle shield long before its effectiveness has been proven.

So where are we? I think that this issue has to be discussed in the context of the overall neocon philosphy. The main tenets are that the US is in a unique position being the only remaining superpower. Its should use its strength backed by unprecedented military force to protect its national interests and achieve its national goals.

So here's my take. The Bush administration is not concerned with nuclear proliferation simply because they will use our force to deal with those who don't comply with our wishes. Once the US controls the Middle East and most of the World's oil supply we can use or superior military strength, which includes a massive nuclear arsenal, and our new found economic club to demand that the rest of the world disarm and let the great USA do what ever the hell it wants. You cross us and we'll cut off your oil and drop a few tactical nukes. Its a simple plan that will bankrupt us, force us to use nukes pre-emptively, and increase terrorism. I think it also encouragescountries like China to greatly increase its nuclear program for self defense and as leverage so it can join the US and Russia as the countries controlling most of the rest of the world.

soccerdad :: 9:08 AM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!