Weak Prospects for Nuclear Nonproliferation Efforts
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
At the United Nations today delegations from nearly 190 countries sat down to talk about efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. They're reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and their meeting comes at an increasingly tense time, according to NPR senior news analyst Daniel Schorr.
President Bush calls Kim Jong Il a tyrant. King Jong Il calls President Bush a hooligan. And that's about the state of play on the non-proliferation front. North Korea makes a fist by firing a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan. Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, director of Defense Intelligence Agency, sends a shudder of apprehension through Capitol Hill by testifying that North Korea has the capability of arming missiles with nuclear warheads, missiles that could theoretically reach the West Coast of the United States. Are we getting ready for a pre-emptive strike? Not to worry.
The admiral apparently misspoke. President Bush tells his press conference, `We don't know if he can or not.' Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a feat of obfuscation, says, `We have different assessments of what they may or may not be doing.' Tension with North Korea, which has pretty much written off the Bush administration, remains high. With Iran facing nuclear powers all around it, the tension is not much less.
The 187 countries that have signed the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty meet in New York, as they do every five years, to review progress in reducing the nuclear danger. Not very much. Libya has resigned from the nuclear club. North Korea and Iran are almost surely on their way to becoming new members. And the United States, which is working on new bunker-busting nuclear bombs, wants sanctions against North Korea and Iran.
The current issue of Foreign Policy magazine features a cover article by former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara headlined: Apocalypse Soon: Why American Nukes Are Immoral, Illegal and Dreadfully Dangerous. McNamara sweated out the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis with President Kennedy, the closest the world has come to nuclear war.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty calls on the signatories to move towards dismantling their nuclear weapons. The United States wants to keep the emphasis on rogue states, like North Korea and Iran. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, wants a worldwide moratorium on enrichment of uranium and reprocessing of plutonium, the two fuels for nuclear weapons. The prospects for that are not very good. This is Daniel Schorr.
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