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The Second Nuclear Age

Eric Boehm commends " The Second Nuclear Age" by David Krieger, from which here is an excerpt: In the year 2000, the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, including the United States, agreed to 13 Practical Steps for Nuclear Disarmament. These included “an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals,” along with specific steps, such as ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), preserving and strengthening the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and applying the principle of irreversibility to nuclear disarmament.

In each of these areas the United States, under the Bush administration, has led in the opposite direction. The administration’s policies have sent a message to the world that the world’s strongest military power finds nuclear weapons useful for its national security and plans to maintain its nuclear arsenal for the indefinite future. The Bush administration has opposed ratification of the CTBT and has withdrawn from the ABM Treaty. Its approach to nuclear disarmament has been to employ maximum flexibility and make reductions fully reversible.

The US pact with Russia, the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), signed by Presidents Bush and Putin in May 2002, calls for reductions in deployed strategic nuclear weapons to between 1,700 and 2,200 weapons on each side by the year 2012. The treaty has no timetable other than the final date to achieve these reductions, and there is no requirement to make these reductions irreversible. The Bush administration has already announced that it plans to put the weapons it takes off active deployment status into storage ready for redeployment on short notice. The Russians are likely to follow suit, creating more opportunity for the stored nuclear weapons in both countries to fall into the hands of terrorists. In the meantime, the US and Russia are each maintaining over 2,000 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, subject to being launched accidentally.

In addition, the Bush administration pursued an illegal preventive war against Iraq because of its purported, but never found, weapons of mass destruction. This action sent a message to North Korea, Iran and other states that if they want to be more secure from US attack, they had better develop nuclear forces to deter the US.

Ronald Hilton - 10.03.03