Now, in the year 2001, there are major technical advances everyday. Many are not extremely important and are not worth noting, but others are. Among these technical advances is nuclear power and weaponry. Both nuclear power and weaponry alone are not a bad thing, but in the wrong hands they can be dangerous. One of the most dangerous things that you can do with nuclear weapons is give them to weak, very small countries. This isn’t a smart thing to do because it now gives that country more of a backbone when it comes to making demands.
Also, whichever country is buying the warhead most likely doesn’t know how to take care of the warhead properly, and this can be dangerous. The sale of nuclear armaments to smaller, developing countries is not sensible for the sake of international security. The threat of smaller countries having nuclear weapons is a problem in the world today. Procedures have been created to stop this growing problem. The most effective way to monitor nuclear weapons is to force countries to submit any weapons that they had previously purchased from other large countries.
The most powerful anti-nuclear treaty is the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which states that no country can have nuclear arms except for the United States, France, Russia, China, and Great Britain. In 1994, with the signing of the NPT, Ukraine surrendered all of their nuclear armaments to the USSR of whom they had originally purchased their weapons. By 1996, Ukraine had sent back to Russia approximately 1,260 warheads, making Ukraine a non-nuclear country. 176 nuclear missiles were also to be returned to Russia. The nuclear launching silos were all destroyed by 1998. Other good things have happened since Ukraine became non-nuclear.
President Clinton was so impressed by Ukraine’s compliant submission, that he decided to fund Ukraine to help pay for all of its national debts. “For the first time in two years, we now have a normal relationship with Ukraine, and we hope this is the start of something much better,” said Clinton. 1 One of the main reasons Ukraine was forced to submit their warheads was because they were not being taken care of properly. In 1994, immediately before the signing of the NPT, and after a routine weapons check, it was discovered that many of Ukraine’s warheads were beginning to decay and were becoming terribly dangerous.
Ukraine had been warned before by its own Minister of Defense, Col. Gen. Yevgeny Maslin. He had stated before that the nuclear silos and storage facilities were extremely over crowded and that the weapons were not being appropriately maintained. He also stated that the chance of a nuclear fallout from mishandling the warheads was getting greater each day that those conditions stayed the same. 2 A meeting was held that same year, 1994, attended by President Leonid Kravchuk of the Ukraine, President Clinton of the US, and Russian president Boris Yeltsin.
This was the meeting in which the NPT was originally signed by Ukraine. Ukraine was looking towards Russia to take their weapons for dismantling. This process was slowed down by some Ukrainian officials in Parliament because they did not want to give up weapons. Upset by this, Maslin said, “The condition of nuclear safety in Ukraine continues to worsen. A moment may come when Russian experts will just simply refuse to accept such warheads for disassembly. “3 Ukraine’s officials finally admitted that there were problems with the warheads, and shipped all the nuclear weapons back to Russia.
The dangers of letting small nations have nuclear arms was displayed with Ukraine’s negligence to do their own weapons checks to make sure none of the weapons were faulty and dangerous. India was also asked to sign the NPT in 1968. India refused saying that it should not have to give up its weapons if the five countries in the NPT do not have to. This drastic decision persuaded Pakistan to also refuse nuclear disarmament. These strong feelings of nationalism were mainly brought on by Jawaharlal Nehru, who was extremely influenced by Mahatma Gandhi.
Nehru became the prime minister of India right after it became independent. One of his major notions about keeping India free was that India would have to “defend herself by every means at her disposal. “4 This basically said that whatever had to be done to keep India totally independent from any type of outside control had to be done, no matter what. By 1998, India declared itself a nuclear state. India pronounced itself nuclear after reviewing the definition of a nuclear state which was set forth by the NPT.
The NPT’s definition of a nuclear state is a country that “manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January 1967″5 (According to Article IX, Section 3 of the Non-Proliferation Treaty). 6 Officials of many other countries don’t believe India fits into the definition of a nuclear state. In defense of his country’s name, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said, “India is now a nuclear weapons state; this is the reality that cannot be denied. It is not conferment that we seek, nor is it a status for others to grant….
It is India’s due, the right of one sixth of humankind. “7 Since becoming a “nuclear state”, India has acquired more international importance. At UN meetings and at other important international meetings, India is given more time to talk about what they believe is important. 8 Once again, this is one of the main reasons nuclear arms should not be given to small countries; India basically became a world power the day it declared itself a nuclear power. In the world, there are certain countries that need nuclear weapons more then other countries.
Countries like The United States and China need weapons of mass destruction because they are world powers that need something to back up their actions. Right alongside these major world powers with nuclear arms is Brazil. Brazil first started toying with the idea of nuclear armament right after World War II, using German uranium enrichment technology. When they received the equipment needed for the bomb-building process, Great Britain and the US (who both opposed Brazil’s nuclear armament) were informed that the enrichment process didn’t produce high enough grade material for building nuclear bombs.
The US and Britain both did not know that Germany was secretly supplying high grade uranium to Brazil. 9 Brazil no longer possesses any nuclear weapons. In 1994, Brazil signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco which states that no country in South America could have or obtain nuclear arms. On June 10, 1998, Brazil joined in a treaty with five other nations to push for nuclear disarmament all over the globe. On July 13 of the same year, Brazil signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty which both stated that Brazil could no longer have nuclear arms.
10 Along with the countries that have signed the NPT and have sworn never to produce nuclear arms, there are also the countries who have refused to not become a non-nuclear state. The country of the most concern is Iraq. Iraq’s nuclear power and weapons program started around 1981. This was not known until around 1991, at about the same time the Persian Gulf War started. Iraq’s nuclear tests and weapons programs were held in secret underground bunkers which were not accountable for any tests from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Shortly after the war, IAEA unearthed a multibillion dollar nuclear weapons program in Iraq. This was quite odd considering Iraq had signed with the NPT and were now in direct violation of the treaty. The IAEA determined that around ten thousand scientists and around 50 kilograms of raw uranium were available to use in Iraq. 11 Since the end of the Gulf War, Iraq has signed the NPT and has been subject to a countless number of inspections to make sure Iraq is keeping up their end of the bargain. The IAEA was put in charge of making sure that Iraq’s nuclear capabilities never gets to show its face.
In 1997, the IAEA announced, “There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability for the production of amounts of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical significance. “12 Even though the IAEA was quoted saying this, it is still perfectly known that Iraq is fully capable of developing nuclear weapons. The UN has given permission to the IAEA to do periodic checks in Iraq to make sure Sadam Hussein is keeping up his end of the deal. During the most recent check, which was in January, no signs of nuclear research or weapons development were found.
Nevertheless, Iraq could be supplying officials with fallacious information and could actually be building nuclear weapons at this very moment. The NPT has been struggling to fulfill its purpose for many years with much success and many troubles. Its views are very much similar to many people’s views on the subject in that only major powers in the world should be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. The NPT’s success is seen in many countries. Algeria, which was discovered secretly building a reactor which could produce weapon-suitable uranium, gave up the reactor immediately to the IAEA.
Algeria’s government officials signed the NPT in January of 1995. Argentina, along with Brazil, had nuclear capabilities in the 1980s. Both signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco which banned nuclear weapons from all of Latin America. Argentina signed the NPT in 1995, whereas Brazil signed the treaty in 1998. When the great Soviet Union broke up leaving numerous small nations behind, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine were left with many nuclear weapons in their lands. All of them signed the NPT which stated that they must surrender all of their nuclear capabilities to Russia.
South Africa is a very odd case in the fight against nuclear non-proliferation. After establishing a uranium enrichment program and building six nuclear warheads, South Africa submitted all of its weapons to several different countries. In 1990, President F. W. de Klerk, (along with the end to apartheid) called for the conclusion of the nuclear program in South Africa. South Africa officially signed the NPT in 1993 and in 1994 was deemed non-nuclear by the IAEA. 13 Several small nations which chose not to be nuclear powers are all part of the fight against global nuclear non-proliferation.
With all of the treaties and laws passed concerning nuclear weapons, none of them pose a final solution to the potential problem of nuclear warfare on earth. Even if the Non-Proliferation Treaty works globally, it still leaves five major countries of the world with nuclear weapons capabilities. This might not seem so bad, but with the past relationships of these five countries, the chance of war breaking out is far from unrealistic. The only potential solution to the problem is peace on Earth.
It appears as though until all of the nations in the world can learn to live with each other peacefully, nuclear disarmament seems out of the question.
When we can all trust each other enough not to have weapons of mass destruction pointed at each other, ready to launch at the push of a button, then this problem will never end. 1 www-tech. mit. edu 2 www-tech. mit. edu 3 www-tech. mit. edu 4 www. ucsusa. org 5 www. armscontrol. org 6 www. state. gov 7 www. washingtonpost. com 8 www. washingtonpost. com 9 www. yale. edu 10 www. fas. org 11 www. armscontrol. org 12 www. armscontrol. org 13 www. armscontrol. org.