October 10, 2006 | Graham

International nuclear disarmament must be the long-term response to Korea

I’m not a dove or a peacenik, but you have to wonder how much the massive nuclear armaments still held by the US and Russia play into the decision of paranoid states like North Korea and Iran to develop nuclear weapons. If the US and Russia didn’t have their arsenals, or were genuinely in the process of dismantling them, their moral argument would be so much stronger.
The extent of their arsenals (according to this article Russia was estimated to have 22,000 nuclear warheads in 2001, and the US twice as many), make just a few more seem derisory, even if they are owned by a rogue state.
And the existence of these weapons caches weakens the US case against these countries allowing for an easy “moral equivalency” argument along the lines of “How come you are the only ones allowed to have weapons?”
The moral argument is even further complicated by recent US moves to develop tactical nuclear weapons “including ‘mini-nukes’, ‘bunker-busters’ and neutron bombs designed to destroy chemical or biological agents”.
The campaign against nuclear weapons has been aided considerably by their demonisation, yet the proposed US developments make them seem pretty tame and domestic, substituting them for routine jobs currently performed by TNT and RDX.
It’s hard to see anything constraining North Korean nuclear ambitions in the short term, certainly not more sanctions. So the important perspective is the long-term and ensuring that whatever weapons they acquire never get used.
Part of the recipe to doing this will be the balance of terror – so there is a role for US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.
Another part has to be accelerated disarmament programs and abandonment of programs to expand the uses for nuclear. This should have the effect of making atomic weapons less attractive as a status symbol for dictators wanting to distract the attention of domestic audiences from other problems, in a way that exacerbating them by applying sanctions won’t.

Posted by Graham at 8:46 am | Comments (10) |


  1. Thanks for putting an alternative perspective. I can’t understand how a nation with lots of nuclear weapons can critise another for developing a few.

    Comment by Jennifer — October 10, 2006 @ 9:47 am

  2. Couldn’t agree more – despite all the hyperventilating about WMD proliferation when it suits, it appears the word ‘disarmament’ has almost disappeared from the lexicon.
    This is a bigger problem than just addressing nuclear disarmament, but we seem to be going backwards even in that most fundamental of areas, which doesn’t leave much hope for reducing weapons proliferation in general.

    Comment by Andrew Bartlett — October 10, 2006 @ 10:16 am

  3. Ambit gambit – such common sense!
    Is there any chance that common sense and logic will prevail?
    Not all that likely, I fear, given the attitudes of George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Putin, and our own U.S. Deputy Sheriff, John Howard.
    What better way to stay in power, than to have the populace constantly remined to be afraid, to be focussing on security, defence and all that stuff. If they can throw in nuclear power as a solution to climate change, then more fuel for nuclear weapons can even be made to look virtous – Christina Macpherson http://www.antinuclearaustralia.com

    Comment by Christina Macpherson — October 10, 2006 @ 12:09 pm

  4. We have to stop being afraid sometime, being scared isn’t a relevant reason to elect any party in.The predicament I see for electors,is that the Liberal & Labor party’s are too much alike.If we had part of this country’s wealth going back into it,things would be very different.We also need a government to set stringent guide lines in regard to all emissions in Australia instead of industry writing their own licences.This would be a start in reducing global warming.

    Comment by Anne — October 11, 2006 @ 3:55 am

  5. Without denying the importance of NK’s nukes, there is another important disarmament motion coming up in the UN. It’s called the Arms Trade Treaty, but don’t expect to hear much about it in the media. Oxfam and AI are highlighting the proliferation of small arms weapons, and in particular the light AK47 that is the weapon of choice for child soldiers.
    It look like the US and Isreal will vote against it, but it may well pass because it only needs a majority decision.
    Check out the campaign here and please send an email to the worthless pile of shit that is currently sitting tin the foreign minister’s chair.

    Comment by brokenleg — October 15, 2006 @ 8:27 pm

  6. I remember seeing a map of USA military bases in the Middle East recently. It showed that Iran is quite literally encircled by a ring of USA military bases. Perhaps then their response is quite justified.
    The USA is currently engaged in a process of developing a new generation of nuclear weapons.
    Remember too that prior to the invasion of Iraq the USA made an announcement that they reserve the right to use “tactical” nulcear weapons if the situation warranted such use.
    The British have announced plans to upgrade/modernise their Trident submarines.
    And meanwhile peace-loving America is responsible for 48% of the global armaments trade.
    Fear quite literally rules!
    This essay perhaps explains why.
    1. http://www.dabase.net/coop+tol.htm

    Comment by John — October 16, 2006 @ 8:34 pm

  7. Clearly you have been listening to one too many UK Labour Party Conference speeches from the 1980’s. Can you really imagine anyone becoming President of the United States advocating your position?

    Comment by Matt — October 18, 2006 @ 9:43 am

  8. Not sure if you’re talking to me or not Matt, but it’s quite possible for politicians to get elected on a policy of being tough and then doing the opposite without anyone noticing much. Look at John Howard on immigration. For years now he’s been running the largest immigration program since just after WWII, while giving the impression he has the whole continent sealed as tight as a can of South Australian tuna.

    Comment by Graham Young — October 18, 2006 @ 11:30 am

  9. Violating UN’s request what North Korea did; could not be blamed because there are many example of such violation of UN.Instead USA countries like Japan,China etc.starting of diplomacy may yield better result.

    Comment by DR.PRABIR — October 19, 2006 @ 4:19 am

  10. I think this is about race relations. The so called “civilised” nations are allowed nuclear arms precicely because they are unlikely to misuse them. The “barbarian” who’s customs and practices are a mystery at best are not allowed because they might use them to enforce their ways. The irony of the situation for me is that I think the very reason why these so called “barbarians” have turned their attension towards nuclear arnament is because they want to be just like the West!

    Comment by vivy — October 24, 2006 @ 10:30 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.