The Possession and use of Nuclear Weapons (Part 5)

Now we turn to arguments against having nuclear weapons.

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Those who want to reach full nuclear disarmament have a potent repertoire of arguments as well. Peter Weiss provides powerful reasons for nuclear disarmament in his paper, Six Reasons why Nuclear Weapons are more Dangerous than ever. Here are his six reasons:

1. Number one, nuclear weapons have become a justification for preemptive war. In my view, Congress would never have given the President the authority to invade Iraq if Congress had not believed at the time that they were doing it because of Saddam’s nuclear weapons program. And that kind of thinking is now likely to repeat itself. Who knows what we’re going to do about Iran or North Korea or the next country that says to the world “if the eight countries that have them now think they need nukes for their security, why not we?”
2. Number two, there is the effect that nuclear weapons have on civil rights and civil liberties. The specter of the mushroom cloud over Manhattan, as alluded to by Condoleezza Rice, has become the justification for every derogation from long accepted “absolute” norms, like the prohibition of torture or of warrantless wiretapping.
3. Number three, nuclear weapons have been redefined as virtually conventional weapons. For most of the years since the NPT came into effect, nuclear weapons have been regarded as the very ultimate weapon to be used only in the most extraordinary circumstances. If you read the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review Report, you will see that nuclear weapons are now part of a triad of deterrent weapons to be used in any number of situations. And not only the United States is taking that position but it is spreading now to other countries. President Chirac made a remarkable statement …in which he said that France would not necessarily refrain from using nuclear weapons in reply to terrorist attacks. So all options are now on the table, at the Elysée, as well as at the White House.
4. The fourth point is that nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists did not exist during the Cold War. This is a very real problem. Will terrorists use nuclear weapons? Who knows? Terrorists do all kinds of crazy things that they don’t consider crazy.
5. Number five, which is related to number four, is the unwillingness of the nuclear weapon states to honor their commitments under Article VI and the “unequivocal undertaking” that they gave in the 2000 NPT Review Conference to abolish their nuclear arsenals, an undertaking which, despite its unequivocal nature, they refused to reaffirm at last year’s conference.
6. Finally, my sixth point is the energy crisis…. We have to reduce our dependence on oil. But ethanol alone is not going to do it. As a result, there is going to be, indeed there is already, a strong push to revive nuclear power and as long as that happens the danger of enriched uranium being diverted to weapons production will not only remain, but it will grow.

Bibliography: Weiss, Peter. “Six Reasons Why Nuclear Weapons Are More Dangerous Than Ever.” American University International Law Review 22, no. 3 (2007): 393–400. Accessed December 28, 2016. http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1123&context=auilr.

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