No to Double Standards on Nuclear Weapons
U.S. Must Disarm Now!
In the month of April, President Barack Obama took a number of actions in relation to nuclear weapons. With the release of the Nuclear Posture Review, Obama emphasized that the U.S. was would not use nuclear weapons in a first strike capacity against non-nuclear states. This was presented as a significant concession by the U.S. to the world. However, two things stand out. The first is doing propaganda for aggressive war — in this case promoting first strike use of nuclear weapons — is itself a crime against the peace. Secondly, even while making the announcement, Obama said there were exceptions. At present these include the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Iran. According to the U.S., they are “in violation” of international laws and standards. For them, “all options are on the table,” including the aggression of a first strike nuclear attack.
The U.S. thus usurps for itself 1) the determination of who is and is not “in violation” of international law, and 2) freedom to commit crimes against the peace. It is an example of Obama implementing his conception of war as an instrument of peace, contrary to international law, which makes propaganda for aggression a crime.
The double standard allowing the U.S. to maintain a massive nuclear arsenal while threatening non-nuclear states like Iran with nuclear aggression must be rejected. Real steps toward peace by the U.S. require an end to its aggressive wars, its threats and terrorizing of the world with nuclear first-strike, and complete disarmament of its nuclear weapons.
Another action by Obama was the signing of the START II Treaty with Russia. The Treaty dealt only with deployed strategic warheads — ignoring the massive arsenals of about 22,000 nuclear weapons. The reduction for both sides was from the 2,200 strategic warheads now allowed to 1550. Many experts anticipated the cut would be to 1000. Experts also report that for the most part, the reduction involves weapons that are no longer needed. While media headlines claimed the U.S. was making the world safer by reducing its weapons, the facts say otherwise. As Obama’s call for first-strike use indicates, the U.S. is using the treaty to paint itself as -adhering to the NPT, while in fact remaining in violation. Its continued stockpiling of nuclear weapons on such a massive scale, along with development of “tactical” nuclear weapons all go against the spirit and letter of the NPT. The smoke of the START II Treaty cannot hide the reality of the U.S. as the biggest threat to world peace. It is the one conducting aggressive wars, threatening nuclear strikes, and standing in the way of eliminating all nuclear weapons.
Iran and the DPRK have both called for establishing nuclear-free zones in the Middle East and on the Korean peninsula. Indeed, at its disarmament conference, Iran said, nuclear disarmament is important to world peace and that “We continue to send a very strong message from the capital of Iran, Tehran, the center of the Middle East, that nuclear weapons do not have a place at all in this very sensitive part of the world.” Given Obama’s actions concerning nuclear disarmament, one would think such a stand would be welcomed. Instead, the U.S. is threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear Iran while also protecting Israel, a nuclear power in the region. And one that refuses to sign the NPT. When asked about this, Obama said he refuses to comment. Again, such double standards cannot be the basis for nuclear disarmament.
Given U.S. efforts to establish itself as global dictator, relying on its military might, vigilance is required against succumbing to these efforts to paint the U.S. as a force for peace. Stepping up the demand for elimination of all nuclear weapons, beginning with those in U.S. hands is required.
Washington has just published its new nuclear doctrine as well as signed the new treaty on arms control with Russia in the midst of a big media fanfare. And yet, upon closer scrutiny, the position of the Obama administration does not mark any real shift from that of its predecessors. It simply attunes the policy of the Bush administration to today’s reality. Even worse, it dodges two main questions: Will the anti-missile shield reactivate the arms race? Will nuclear weapons be replaced by strategic arms that will prove even more destabilizing? The day before formally releasing the Nuclear Posture Review, which lays out U.S. nuclear strategy and three days ahead of signing the new START treaty with Russia in Prague, President Barack Obama gave a glimpse of the basic guidelines of his new strategy in an interview with the New York Times.
What does the novelty consist in? “If you are a non-nuclear weapons state that is compliant with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), you have a negative assurance we will not be using nuclear weapons against you.” But if the state violates the NTP — according to Washington’s incontrovertible judgment — the United States can no longer guarantee that it will refrain from using nuclear arms against it.
Here, Obama is pointing his finger at Iran and north Korea, but especially at Iran which is accused of having defied the international community by developing a nuclear program that “on the current course would provide it with a military nuclear capability.” President Obama, the interviewer recalls, has already declared that he “could not live with a nuclear-capable Iran.” In substance, this means that the United States reserves the right to a first strike — that is to a “pre-emptive” nuclear attack — in order to prevent a country like Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons.
Whereas President Bush’s strategy contemplated the use of nuclear weapons against a vast array of threats, President Obama’s strategy — writes the New York Times — “limits” their use. A somewhat relative limitation since it condones the use of nuclear weapons not only against a nuclear state, but also against “a State that did not sign or was incompliant with the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”
Paradoxically, in the interview, Obama asserts that both “the United States and Israel are very concerned over Iran’s behavior,” neglecting to mention that while Iran is a party to the NPT and the target of inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Israel has never signed the NPT and possesses a powerful nuclear arsenal that was never subjected to international inspection. And while Iran has no nuclear weapons, Israel keeps about one hundred of them aimed at Iran and other countries in the region.
The same thing can be said about the United States’ other ally, Pakistan, that is the owner of nuclear weapons but has never adhered to the NPT. To the question regarding Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile, on which the United States has so far spent at least $100 million to “secure,” Obama replied, “I’m not going to talk about the details of Pakistan’s nuclear program.” This confirms that the new nuclear strategy of the United States continues to apply the usual double standards.
While, on the one hand, President Obama proclaims the reduction of nuclear weapons, on the other hand, he declares that the U.S. will “maintain a potent deterrent” and will “invest in improved infrastructure to ensure the safety, security and reliability of our nuclear weapons.” And as he announces the “limitation” on the use of nuclear arms, White House officials are saying that the new strategy allows for “nuclear reprisals against a biological attack.” In other words, a nuclear attack against a non-nuclear country accused, possibly on the basis of “evidence” provided by the CIA, of having carried out or attempted to carry out a biological attack against the United States.
Moreover, to the question regarding the new generation of “conventional” weapons that the United States is developing, blurring the boundary between conventional and nuclear weapons, Obama said that he did not intend to get into details. He adopts the same attitude when it comes to U.S. nuclear arms in Europe. In respect of the anti-missile “shield” that the U.S. intends to deploy in Europe, threatening to compromise the new START treaty, Obama chose to remain silent. However, one who did speak out is Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who, two days before the Prague Summit, warned that “Moscow reserves the right to withdraw from the new START if the impact of the anti-missile “shield” to be set up by United States significantly outweighs the efficiency of Russia’s nuclear strategic potential.”
“Nuclear Energy for All,
An international conference on nuclear disarmament and non- proliferation took place April 17-18 in Tehran, the Iranian capital. “Holding this conference in Tehran shows that the issue of global disarmament of mass weapons of destruction, especially nuclear disarmament, is of great importance for the world,” said Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki at the opening session.
The conference focused on three major topics dealing with disarmament challenges, international obligations for disarmament and non- proliferation and practical steps for actually achieving disarmament. Officials from more than 60 countries as well as delegates from various international and non-governmental organizations took part in the conference.
In a message to the conference, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “The use or even the threats to use such nuclear weapons is an obvious violation of humanitarian principles and an evidence for a war crime.” President Obama has threatened Iran with first-strike use of nuclear weapons. The conference emphasized that nuclear-armed countries take practical steps to eliminate nuclear weapons. Participants said that the international community is greatly concerned about the many thousands of nuclear weapons in the hands of the U.S., Israel and other nuclear states.
The two-day conference aimed to convey the message that the world and the Middle East in particular must be free from nuclear weapons. Iran has called for such a nuclear-free zone, while Israel and the U.S. have refused.
Mohammad Mehdi Akhoundzadeh, Iran’s deputy foreign minister and secretary general of the summit, said “We are providing a platform where everybody can express their views. We will continue to send this very strong message from the capital of Iran, Tehran, the center of the Middle East, that nuclear weapons do not have a place at all in this very sensitive part of the world.” He reported that a large number of foreign dignitaries attended the conference. “The turnout seems wonderful beyond our expectation. Three Arab foreign ministers and many other foreign ministers from different regions of the world,” took part.
Khamenei, in his statement also said, “We believe that, besides nuclear weapons, other kinds of weapons of mass destruction such as chemical and biological weapons are also against humanity.” He said, “Iran is ready to harness all its capacities to confront (the proliferation and use of) such weapons,” adding “We consider the use of such weapons as Haram (religiously prohibited).”
A senior Iranian official voiced hope that the international disarmament and non-proliferation summit in Tehran will also pave the way for reforms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), local satellite Press TV reported.
“We hope that the conference in Tehran will effectively pave the way for the NPT review talks in New York,” Iran’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ali Asghar Soltanieh was quoted as saying. Soltanieh said the summit in Iran could play a significant role in the outcome of next month’s NPT conference in New York. “The talks in Tehran will undoubtedly have an effect on the (NPT) review conference,” he said. The conference in Tehran portrays the Islamic Republic’s dedication to the rules of peaceful application of nuclear energy, he added. He encouraged the West to focus on abandoning their nuclear weapon arsenals, which pose a serious threat to word peace and security.
In related news, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said, “Nuclear disarmament is the most important step towards the safe world.” Addressing participants in the International Conference on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Jalili, who is also secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), called for setting a specified timetable for annihilating all nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday called for the launch of a new global body to supervise nuclear weapons disarmament. To implement disarmament and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, “The formation of an independent international group to plan and to supervise the disarmament of nuclear weapons and its non-proliferation” is proposed, Ahmadinejad said.
Washington has officially unveiled its new nuclear doctrine, the new START-3 Treaty between Russia and the U.S. is ready for signing in Prague on April 8, and on April 12-13 U.S. President B. Obama will host the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. Evidently, the U.S. is launching a broad anti-nuclear offensive.
No examples of sacrificial service of the U.S. elites to humanity or peoples of other countries can be discovered in the U.S. history over the past century. Would it be realistic to expect the advent of an African-American president to the White House to change the country’s political philosophy traditionally aimed at achieving global dominance? Those believing that something like that is possible should try to realize why the U.S — the country with a military budget already greater than those of all other countries of the world combined — continues spending enormous sums of money on preparations for war. Why is Washington actively spreading military activity to space, building up it its strategic non-nuclear forces, developing global missile defense, and converting its formerly nuclear-armed powerful Ohio-class submarines into carriers of cruise missiles with non-nuclear warheads? There are too many questions inviting obvious answers, and the answers combine into a picture showing that the U.S. intentions are anything but peaceful.
Let us survey briefly the U.S. strategy over the recent years. In 2002 George Bush established a commission to survey the situation in the nuclear arms sphere. Its conclusions were the following:
• Russia in its current state does not present a nuclear threat to the U.S.;
• The U.S. nuclear weapons do not serve as an efficient instrument of implementing the U.S. security strategy as they can neither protect the country from terrorist attacks nor be used to exert pressure on rogue states.
• While being a huge financial burden, maintaining the nuclear arsenals is not cost-efficient.
After heated debates sparked by the conclusions, Washington decided to slash the budget of the strategic nuclear forces and to focus on developing new generations of conventional warfare. As a compromise with the proponents of the pro-nuclear strategy and those still concerned over Russia and China as sources of nuclear threat, the U.S. Administration made the decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and to deploy a global missile shield.
Prompt Global Strike
In 2003, Bush approved the Prompt Global Strike concept. The same year the U.S. officially scrapped the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and established the Global Strike Command to which 450 systems from the strategic nuclear forces were transferred upon conversion into precision means of delivery with conventional warheads. Work began on equipping 4 Ohio submarines to carry cruise missiles. The submarines’ 24 Trident-2 submarine-launched ballistic missiles were replaced with 160 upgraded Tomahawks. The Trident-2 missiles were also upgraded to carry non-nuclear warheads. At the same time, efforts intensified to create a new class of strategic cruise missiles (with the 4,000 mile range and the velocity reaching 6 Mach). An extensive program of deploying roughly 1,400 strategic missile defense installations was also implemented.
The Prompt Global Strike concept envisages a concentrated strike using several thousand precision conventional weapons in 2-4 hours that would completely destroy the critical infrastructures of the target country and thus force it to capitulate.
In 2009 the Prompt Global Strike initiative which used to be the favorite brainchild of Bush’s Administration was inherited by Barack Obama. The pragmatically minded new Administration reckoned that it made no sense to spend a lot on nuclear weapons that were impossible to use in practice (due to the risk of a retaliatory nuclear strike and the concerns over radioactive contamination of large areas). The wars in Yugoslavia and Iraq were won with the help of conventional warfare, mainly cruise missiles and bombs.
The Prompt Global Strike concept is meant to sustain the U.S. monopoly in the military sphere and to widen the gap between it and the rest of the world. Combined with the deployment of the missile defense which are supposed to keep the U.S. immune to retaliatory strikes from Russia and China, the Prompt Global Strike initiative is going to turn Washington into a modern era global dictator.
The actual objective of the dovish 2010 anti-nuclear campaign floated by Obama’s Administration is to make the implementation of the above program cheaper. Presenting Washington’s new nuclear doctrine, Obama said the U.S. pledges not to use nuclear weapons even in case it comes under a chemical or bacteriological warfare attack. Immediately, criticism was leveled at the authors of Russia’s military doctrine for Moscow’s not rejecting the first nuclear strike option.
There are serious reasons to exercise caution, though. Simply, the U.S. arsenals of intercontinental-range delivery systems carrying conventional warfare are so impressive that it no longer has to rely on the nuclear strike option. In essence, the new U.S. nuclear doctrine is an element of the novel U.S. security strategy that would be more adequately described as the strategy of total impunity. The U.S. is boosting its military budget, unleashing NATO as the global gendarme, and planning real-life exercises in Iran to test the efficiency of the Prompt Global Strike initiative in practice. At the same time, Washington is talking about a completely nuclear-free world.
General Leonid Grigoryevich Ivashov is a vice president of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs, a member of Axis for Peace and former Joint Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces who retired in 2001.