Get Rid of All
by Adil Najam*, February 18, 2004
President Bush's Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) provides
the right solution, but to the wrong problem. Nuclear proliferation
is merely a symptom; the real issue is the nuclear weapons themselves.
And, in this sense, the PSI is no more than a Band-Aid, and a
quite small one at that.
The recent scandal in Pakistan, where a corrupt scientist sold
nuclear secrets for profit, only demonstrates that such traffic
is much too lucrative to be stopped by increased policing. For
60 years, ever since Hiroshima, the U.S. and the world have tried
to control the spread of nuclear weapons. We've tried treaties,
economic sanctions and moral persuasion. And we've failed.
We could not stop the Soviets from getting nukes. We chose not
to resist, and actually ignored, Israel's nuclear program. We
looked the other way when India went nuclear and, thus, could
do little when Pakistan followed suit. And we merely fumed when
North Korea flexed its nuclear muscles. In the meantime, we have
built and maintained the world's largest nuclear stockpile.
Can we contain Pakistan's nuclear program?
Yes, we can. But first we will need to contain India's. To
do that, however, India
will need to see China's program rolled back. How does that happen?
For that, we will need to start looking at our own. As my grandmother
used to say, "If you point one finger at someone, at least
three will point back at you." No one said this was easy!
Are we really surprised that the rest of
the world rolls its eyes when we pontificate about the dangers
of nuclear weapons
or weapons of mass destruction in general — as when Bush
referred to them as "the greatest threat to humanity today"?
What other countries doubt is our sincerity. It is hypocritical
to tell the rest of the world that nuclear weapons are good enough
for us, but not for them. We can't have a world part nuclear
and part not.
Perhaps the fathers of our own atom bomb — Robert Oppenheimer
and his colleagues from the Manhattan Project — were correct
in believing that the only real way of dealing with nuclear proliferation
is to ban nuclear weapons altogether. Everywhere.
International Atomic Energy Agency head
Mohamed ElBaradei understands this reality. He recently wrote: "We
must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible
for some countries to
pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for
others to rely on them and indeed to continue to refine their
capacities and postulate plans for their use."
We must insist on a nuclear-free world. We must make a sincere
commitment to it at home and demand it abroad. Rather than better
mousetraps for proliferating nations, we need an approach to
eliminate nuclear weapons. Some may argue this is unrealistic.
But no more so than the misguided, even naive, hope that a feel-good
Band-Aid called PSI will make the world a safer place.
*Adil Najam is an associate
professor of international negotiation and diplomacy at the
Fletcher School at Tufts University. This article was
originally published by USA Today on February