Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama plans nuclear talks to lift threat of proliferation.

We all remember that Obama actually campaigned on eliminating nuclear weapons, although most people thought that this was simply campaign rhetoric. But, since coming to office, Obama has not let up on his insistence that total nuclear disarmament remains his ultimate goal.

Now he has called for a global summit to talk about how the world can reduce it's nuclear arsenal.

The US President told G8 leaders at their meeting in Italy yesterday that between 20 and 30 nations would be invited to the non-proliferation summit in Washington next spring. He hopes to build on his successful disarmament talks held on Monday with the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev.

The US-led initiative could pave the way for the world to warn Iran and North Korea that they would be treated as "pariah states" unless they stop developing nuclear weapons. The burden of proof would be on countries that are not yet members of the nuclear club to show they had not breached the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, raising the prospect of attempts to send weapons inspectors in if they refused to comply.

There will be cynics who state that Obama is merely showing his naivete when he discusses such matters, but he is actually simply continuing the dream of both Reagan and Gorbachev who attempted such a goal at Reykjavik.

In 1986 at the Reykjavik summit, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, both passionate about nuclear disarmament, shocked deterrence experts with an unimaginable proposal – total nuclear disarmament. “It would be fine with me if we eliminated all nuclear weapons,” said Reagan. “We can do that,” replied Gorbachev, “Let’s eliminate them. We can eliminate them.”

However, U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz explained that the proposal was “too much for people to absorb, precisely because it was outside the bounds of conventional wisdom,” and “the world was not ready for Ronald Reagan’s boldness.”

Now, we all know that the modern day Republican party have almost deified Ronald Reagan, so it will be interesting to watch them line up to remind us that, much as they loved Gripper, he was simply wrong on this one.

And it's interesting to note that Brown is willing to put Trident on the table for further discussion, even if it is not on the table initially.

British officials insisted that Trident would not be "on the table" in March, but confirmed it could eventually form part of the talks if they resulted in a process of multilateral disarmament. They played down the chances of the £25bn Trident programme being axed as part of a drive to cut public spending, saying the "fixed costs" of the four submarines which carry the weapons accounted for the bulk of the budget, so reducing the number of warheads would not save much.

Gordon Brown will publish Britain's proposals for a historic "new deal on nuclear security" in the world in the next few days. He has told Mr Obama that he believes there is a chance of securing a trade-off under which countries promise not to develop nuclear weapons in return for help with developing civil nuclear power.

The Prime Minister told journalists: "Iran is attempting to build a nuclear weapon. North Korea is attempting to build a nuclear weapon. We have got to show we can deal with this by collective action.

"Unilateral action by the United Kingdom would not be seen as the best way. What we need is collective action by the nuclear weapons powers to say that we are prepared to reduce our nuclear weapons, but we need assurances also that other countries will not proliferate them. And we need new kinds of assurances to prevent a situation such as we have got in Iran emerging in exactly the same way again."

The Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, which the Bush administration were fond of reminding us required country's like Iran to desist from acquiring nuclear weapons, also made other demands which the Bush administration always ignored. As the Bush administration planned a new range of bunker busting nuclear weapons they failed to acknowledge that they themselves were actually in breach of the NNPT, as it requires nuclear nations to take steps to disarm.

At talks in the Kremlin on Monday, the US and Russian presidents agreed to limit their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons to a range of between 1,500 and 1,675 each and their strategic delivery vehicles to between 500 and 1,100 each . The current maximum levels are 2,200 warheads and 1,600 launch vehicles.

Mr Brown, who said he had submitted proposals to Mr Obama on the issue, added: "There is a possibility of a nuclear deal that we will help countries that are non-nuclear gain access to civil nuclear power and to do it in a way that is safe for the whole of the world, but we want them to agree to tight conditions about non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. We will try at the same time to talk with Russia and America to achieve some reduction in nuclear weapons."

At last the US has a leader who is prepared to seriously address the commitments of nuclear nations under the NNPT. It has previously been possible for country's like Iran to point to the US's hypocrisy on this matter.

Obama, by seriously addressing the subject of nuclear disarmament, removes this argument from the table.

Click title for full article.

No comments: