Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Non-Proliferation Treaty or NonPerformance Treaty?

All views expressed in this post are those of the author. The author is only excercising his right of speech. This is not an attempt to defame/belittle countries/people. And err.. (in case there is any doubt).. by author, I mean... ME. You are most welcome to point out any flaws in my thinking. But I only ask that you do it politely. Thank you.

I was having breakfast at the dining hall last week when something on television caught my interest. There was talk of Iran's Uranium enrichment plan and how they were going against the International Community by manufacturing pure Uranium that could be used(hypothetically) to produce nuclear weapons. This TV news snippet brought back memories of a conversation I had with my Dad when I was in seventh grade.

Me: Dad, what is NPT?.. It's all over the papers, magazines and there was even a question on a quiz in school about it.

Dad: NPT stands for Non-proliferation treaty.. (sarcastically) You would know that yourself if you do not restrict yourself to only the sports page.

Me(spare the lecture look): Ok..Ok.. but what does the treaty say?

Dad: Basically the US wants India to keep away from nuclear arms research/development and testing.

Me: But America has nuclear arms!!!!?

Dad: Yes they do....

The rest of the conversation is immaterial. Though this exchange occurred ages ago, I still remember thinking of the absurdity of a nation in possession of nuclear arms trying to convince a second nation not to indulge in producing nuclear weapons. I just assumed I was too young to understand all the issues involved and promptly forgot all about it.

However, the whole concept of NPT sounds just as absurd to me today. Imagine a few select countries (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China) the so called "Nuclear weapon states" (NWS) using a possible nuclear catastrophe as a ploy to demand that all other nations do not possess or develop nuclear weapons of their own.

The fact that 183 countries have signed the treaty makes it downright weird. You would think that they would have at the very least, demanded some actual disarmament from the NWS, before becoming a party to the treaty. Though it has been close to 50 years since the treaty came into being, there has been no serious disarmament activity from the NWS.

And what is more.. There has been talk of America imposing possible sanctions on Iran for breaching the treaty. They could have just said..

"We don't want nuclear weapon development in the middle east, which is brimming with terrorists, and risk nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands only to be used against us. So, as the most powerful country in the world, we are going to throw our weight around and ensure that Iran does not produce enriched uranium that may be used for nuclear weapon development."

But to say....

"You are not sticking to the treaty".

"You are endangering the International Community"

...after openly disobeying/ignoring Article VI of the NPT which essentially calls for progressive disarmament from the United States and the other NWS, is a parody of sorts.

Today, the five 'PERMANENT' members of the security council come together in Moscow to discuss sanctions proposed by the United States, to deter Iran from continuing their enrichment process. Please note that these are the only countries in the world that are 'ALLOWED' to possess nuclear weapons according to the 'NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY".

If the United Nations has the power to recommend economic sanctions on the nations that fail to adhere to the NPT, then why haven't any sanctions been imposed on the Nuclear Weapon States('the PERMANENT members') who have so cunningly postponed any actual disarmament for over 10 years now. And would those sanctions help? Would sanctions on the most powerful nations in the world affect them significantly enough? Probably not.

This post is NOT a call for all nations of the world to start nuclear arms production. It is just a call for nations to withdraw from the NPT which has failed miserably to bring about disarmament, the sole aim behind the treaty. (Not that I expect any country presidents to read this.. Just attribute this sentence to one of my fits of megalomania.. ).

For the NPT (or any other disarmament treaty for that matter) to be successful, we need to start with the Nuclear weapon states. Not the rest of the world EXCEPT the NWS. In simple terms, the problem here is nuclear weapons and obviously the best way to solve a problem is the source of the problem, namely the NWS. What is the point in getting a treaty signed by every single country that does NOT possess a nuclear weapon if the ultimate goal is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth?

If the NWS and other nuclear states(Israel and India) want to pursue disarmament with honorable intentions, they must realize that they will have to start with themselves. They brought this menace into the world and it is they who must take the responsibility of getting rid of the menace. Not by threatening/browbeating other nations into not producing nuclear weapons but by approaching the non-trivial problem of 'disarming' themselves seriously and taking concrete steps that would make the goal of 'disarmament' achievable in real-time.

For more on Nuclear Disarmament click here.

Today happens to be my Dad's birthday.. Well Dad.. Think of this post as an elaborate means of letting you know that I'm in touch with world affairs.. ;-) Happy Birthday!! I love you!