Nuclear weapons: The ultimate insurance policy
All three are guilty of persistently issuing threats contrary to Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, which requires that all UN member states “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” .
All three should be expelled from the UN under Article 6 of the Charter, which provides for the expulsion of a member which “has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter”. That’s not going to happen, of course, since two of the miscreants are veto-wielding members of the Security Council (which must recommend any expulsion) and the other is their close ally. That’s the way the UN system works, or rather doesn’t.
Putin on “humanitarian intervention”
States that possess nuclear weapons are not subject to “humanitarian intervention” by the West in order to put in place a regime of which the West approves. As Vladimir Putin wrote in RIA Novosti on 27 February 2012, the West’s fondness for armed intervention in sovereign states is a positive encouragement to nuclear proliferation:
“All this fervor around the nuclear programs of
“It seems that the more frequent cases of crude and even armed outside interference in the domestic affairs of countries may prompt authoritarian (and other) regimes to possess nuclear weapons. If I have the A-bomb in my pocket, nobody will touch me because it's more trouble than it is worth. And those who don't have the bomb might have to sit and wait for ‘humanitarian intervention’.
“Whether we like it or not, foreign interference suggests this train of thought.” 
The axis of evil
In his State of the Union address to
Congress on 29 January 2002, President George W Bush declared that
However, knowing that
There’s a very important lesson there for states that don’t possess nuclear weapons: if you want to be free from “the threat or use of force”, which is supposed to be prohibited by Article 2.4 of the UN Charter, if at all possible, get yourself at least a rudimentary nuclear weapons system. The UN system won’t protect you from “the threat or use of force”. You have a better chance if you possess nuclear weapons. They are the ultimate weapons of self-defence in that a state that possesses them doesn’t get attacked by other states.
After the US/UK invasion of Iraq in March 2003, North Korea’s foreign ministry declared that "the Iraqi war shows that to allow disarmament through inspections does not help avert a war, but rather sparks it", concluding that "only a tremendous military deterrent force" can prevent attacks on states the US dislikes (see Seumas Milne, The Guardian, 10 April 2003 ). The regime survives today because it acted upon this impeccably logical conclusion.
In December 2006, the UK Government published a White Paper The
Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent, which made the case for
“to deter and prevent nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression against our vital interests that cannot be countered by other means.” 
More recently on 18 June 2012, in response to an MP who
suggested that nuclear weapons were “completely useless” as a deterrent,
“I find it extraordinary that anyone can stand up in this House after 65 years of nuclear-armed peace and say that a strategic deterrent does not make people safer. The possession of a strategic nuclear deterrent has ensured this country’s safety. It ensured that we saw off the threat in the cold war and it will ensure our security in the future.” 
On the same occasion, Labour MP, Alison Seabeck, echoed
“In a security landscape of few guarantees, our independent nuclear deterrent provides us with the ultimate insurance policy, strengthens our national security and increases our ability to achieve long-term global security aims.” 
All three of these states that are to the fore in
threatening military action against
“The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” (p17)
sentence was written with
Justification from Barak and Gates
“I know, I don’t delude myself that
they are doing it just because of
At that point, realising the hole he had dug for himself, including ditching Israel’s traditional policy of refusing to admit that it has nuclear weapons, he tried valiantly to portray Iran as “totally different” and unworthy of possessing nuclear weapons.
Five years earlier, former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates
you believe the Iranians would consider using that nuclear weapons capability
against the nation of
don't know that they would do that, Senator. ... And I think that, while they
are certainly pressing, in my opinion, for nuclear capability, I think that
they would see it in the first instance as a deterrent. They are surrounded by powers with nuclear weapons:
This remarkable reply justifies Iran seeking nuclear weapons as a deterrent against other nuclear powers in the region, including Israel and the US (which he admitted has naval vessels armed with nuclear weapons a few miles off the Iranian coast).
Like Barak, Gates acknowledged that Israel has nuclear weapons, even though it has been US policy for a generation not to do so – which has had the double benefit of not undermining Israel’s traditional policy of ambiguity on the issue and of not requiring the US to take a position for or against Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
Of course, it would be against
The NPT is a bizarre treaty. Under it, the five states that
already possessed nuclear weapons were permitted to sign as “nuclear weapon”
states and keep them; the rest had to sign as “non-nuclear-weapon” states and
are forbidden from acquiring them. The
To be precise, a “nuclear-weapon” state is defined in Article IX(3) of the Treaty as follows:
“For the purposes of this Treaty, a nuclear-weapon State is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January, 1967.”
Five states – China, France, Russia, the UK and the US – passed that test and were eligible to sign the NPT as “nuclear-weapon” states (though China and France didn’t sign until the 1990s).
The NPT was devised by states that possessed nuclear weapons in order to maintain their monopoly over the possession of nuclear weapons and, if at all possible, prevent other states acquiring them. Their monopoly was written into the NPT itself. What is more, since amendment to the Treaty requires the approval of
“a majority of the votes of all the Parties to the Treaty, including the votes of all nuclear-weapon States Party to the Treaty”
(to quote Article VIII(2) of the Treaty), their monopoly cannot be taken away without their consent. In other words, their right under the NPT to possess nuclear weapons is inviolable.
And their right under the NPT cannot be overridden by the UN Security Council, since each of these five powers has a right of veto over its decisions.
It is inconceivable that any of these powers will give up their nuclear weapons unilaterally – because they are the ultimate weapons of self-defence. It is true that the NPT pays lip service to the notion of all round nuclear disarmament. Article VI says:
“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament … .”
But that doesn’t require “nuclear-weapon” states to get rid of their nuclear weapons, nor even to negotiate in good faith about getting rid of them, merely to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating … to nuclear disarmament”.
The five states that had nuclear weapons on 1 January 1967 – and were licenced to keep them by the NPT – still possess nuclear weapons more than four decades later and, most likely, will keep them for as long as they exist as states.
189 states are now party to the NPT, 5 as “nuclear-weapon” states and the rest as “non-nuclear-weapon” states.
3 states –
It used to be the case that these three states were in the international nuclear doghouse, in the sense that they were unable to purchase nuclear material and equipment from the rest of the world. This made it difficult for them to expand their civil nuclear programmes.
But, in July
2005, the Bush administration signed the US-India nuclear agreement, an
initiative which has lead to
As a member
of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) of states,
September 2008, it consented to the amendment of the NSG Guidelines to make an
(Ironically, the NSG came into being in 1974 as a result of India developing, and testing, a nuclear device using plutonium from a reactor imported from Canada for civil purposes).
The NSG operates by consensus and theoretically
What is more, the Government pretended that the introduction of this extraordinary anomaly had no significant implications for the NPT. See, for instance, Foreign Minister, Micheál Martin’s response to a question from Michael D Higgins in Dáil Éireann on 9 October 2008 .
Senator Barack Obama voted for the legislation required to enact the US-India nuclear agreement. In July 2008, he explained his actions to the Indian magazine Outlook:
“I voted for the US-India nuclear
have it: the Bush administration, allegedly a determined opponent of the
proliferation of nuclear weapons, has rewarded
There, Obama was speaking during his election campaign. In power, his administration has embraced the US-India agreement. On 23 March 2009, his Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinburg, told a conference on the agreement at the Brookings Institution:
“Both the United States and India have a responsibility to help work, to craft a strengthened NPT regime that fosters safe, affordable nuclear power, to help the globe’s energy and environment needs while assuring against the spread of nuclear weapons.” 
Think about it: here the
It is not as if
“Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes … .”
If it had
kept on the right side of the
Withdrawal from NPT
Under Article IX of the NPT,
“Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.”
It might not
be wise for