All Nations Must Give Up Their Nukes
By James Donahue
“It is only when science
asks why, instead of simply describing how, that it becomes more than technology. When it asks why it discovers Relativity.
When it only shows how, in invents the atom bomb, and then puts its hands over its eye and says: ‘My God what have I
done?” –Ursula K. Le Guin.
“The unleashed power
of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” –Albert
Einstein’s great formula: E=mc˛ became the catalyst for the
development of the atomic bomb during the height of World War II. At the same time scientific teams in the United States were
racing to invent such a bomb, it was known through intelligence that German scientists also were doing the same thing. The
grim fact was that the first team to get a working bomb was probably going to win the war.
The fact that the United States and allied forces managed to sabotage
the German nuclear projects at Norsk Hydro in Norway and the Oranienburg facility in Germany helped us win this vital contest
and thus emerge from the war as a major world power.
The time of jubilation and pride over our achievement was short-lived,
however. The world spy network, such as it has been, was actively at work stealing the plans for building nuclear bombs. The
Russians got there first. The French and British, who were close allies during the war also had an early possession of the
bomb. Then the Chinese had it. Somewhere along the line we gave the technology to Israel and Pakistan. Then India had a bomb.
In spite of efforts by President John F. Kennedy and presidents
to follow him to negotiate for a world nuclear disarmament, the number of nations gaining access to the bomb has been growing.
North Korea recently joined the world nuclear weapon states, and now there is all kinds of rhubarb over the thought that Iran
is attempting to build a bomb.
The great concern is that any one of these nuclear powers might
choose to use these deadly weapons in the event of a war with another country. And there was been a long and ugly history
of warfare that has raged almost non-stop among nations for as long as there has been historical records.
Those of us who grew up during the Cold War years with the threat
that the Soviet Union might strike the United States with its great nuclear arsenal mounted on a battery of antiballistic
missiles capable of striking any city on the continent, remember the bomb shelters people were building in their back yards.
We remember having to practice cowering under our school desks, with our arms over our heads, in the event of that blinding
flash that signaled a nearly nuclear attack.
We lived in daily fear in those days, especially during the Cuban
Missile Crisis when Kennedy faced off with Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschchev, both men’s hands on the nuclear button
while talking to one another on the hot-line between Washington and Moscow. That was as close to a world nuclear holocaust
as we ever got.
It quickly became obvious to world leaders, especially after that
episode in 1962, that something had to be done to put the brakes on the growing issue of nuclear insanity. But how could we
do this. Nuclear power plants were springing up all over the world and our military ships at sea were now operating on nuclear
power. The gene was out of the bottle and it seemed that getting world leaders to cooperatively work to get it under control
was an almost impossible task.
Organizations like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
and the United Nations have been working to get member nations to collectively agree to at least reduce the number of nuclear
arms in their arsenals. While the United States and Russia have signed agreements to cut the number of bombs, to stop above-ground
testing and even stop developing new and more powerful nuclear weapons, the latter agreement has not happened. The newest
nuclear weapons are more sophisticated and perhaps more deadly than ever.
The United States, for example, has developed the B61 Mod 11, a
hardened penetration bomb with a reinforced casing containing depleted uranium and delayed action fuse. It is most commonly
known as the “bunker bomb” that will penetrate deep ground fortifications. Such bombs were used during the Iraq
war. We also used conventional bombs and shells with tips laced with depleted uranium, which were, for all practical purposes,
a form of nuclear weaponry.
After years of participating in a post-Cold War policy of lowering
our military nuclear arsenal, the Bush Administration announced plans to research and develop a new “family” of
tactical nuclear weapons for use against “terrorist enclaves and hostile nations.” We suspect these weapons were
already developed and ready to use. Mr. Bush and generals in the Pentagon were obviously anxious to try out their new toys
on the innocent people of Iraq. For these fellows, the thought was: to hell with the concept of non-proliferation.
That the Bush Administration took the action it did in an unprovoked
war in the Middle East did little to convince the rest of the world that the United States could be trusted under nuclear
disarmament treaties. Indeed the May 2012 conference of the Non-proliferation Treaty held in Vienna was a total failure. Countries
armed with nuclear weapons all expressed a refusal to commit themselves in a process of nuclear disarmament.
The 28 heads of state meeting in Chicago in May for the NATO summit,
however, agreed to work for “international diplomacy” in the area of nuclear militarization. While all NATO leadership
agrees that something has to be done to solve the growing threat of world nuclear destruction, none of the nations possessing
these weapons are willing to agree to give them up.
Every nuclear armed state attending the Vienna conference made
it clear that they intended to maintain their arsenals to assure the security of their country.
Antonio Guerreiro, who led the Brazilian delegation, expressed
what may have been the only sane quote to come out of the meeting. “It is simply unacceptable,” he said, “that
twenty years after the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons still continue to play an integral role in the doctrines of military
Brazil does not possess nuclear weapons.