The Global Citizen
Category: Nuclear Weapons
For the first time since its creation in 1974, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) granted India a waiver , thereby allowing this nuclear country to trade in technology with supplier states like the U.S., France and Russia.
This summer I traveled to Japan after indefatigably working for two months to save up for a two way ticket and a JR train pass. During the three weeks of my stay I came across many new and interesting cultural quirks. For example the Japanese make a point slurp as loudly as they can when eating noodles as eating quietly may offend the cook or when going up the escalator they stand on the left side and pass on the right. Another is when a Japanese person wishes to express his or her gratitude, they lightly bow their head.
I also got a chance to become more acquainted with Japan's fascinating history which is given so little attention in both American and European public schools. In Tokyo I visited the Edo Museum which illustrated the highly sectarian society existing in Japan until the second half of the 19 century. In Kyoto I went to a local museum dedicated to the life of their national idol: Sakamoto Ryoma, the man who fought for the westernization of Japan, which allowed it to become a world power. A stop in one of the cities, however, left a heavy feeling. Though more than half a century has passed since the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima by the United States, killing 140,000 people and razing 90 percent of the buildings, there remains a kind of melancholy, unpleasant aura amidst the hustle and bustle of the city.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke today on Iranian national television about the role of the United Nations in nuclear disarmament. Like with North Korea and India, the United States has attempted to persuade Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program and to open its plants to international inspection. But unlike these countries Iran remained indifferent to the entreaties. In exchange for Iran's cooperation in suspending its uranium enrichment program, the United States promised to ease economic and diplomatic sanctions it has imposed on Iran for the past decade.
Abdul Qadeer Khan (A.Q. Khan), Pakistani scientist and metallurgical engineer, originally admitted to working with Libya, Iran, and North Korea on nuclear proliferation; although he later retracted his participation in such activities. Following a confession in February 2004, A.Q. Khan was put on house arrest because of the fact that he had provided those countries with information and technology to develop nuclear weapons.
In today's Washington Post, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, in written answers to the U.S. Senate said the possibility of military action against Iran should be retained as a "last resort." But he said the United States "should make every effort to engage by use of the whole of government, developing further leverage rather than simply targeting discrete threats."
Yesterday, President Bush ordered a reduction of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, which would shrink to under 1/4th of its size at the end of the Cold War. This announcement supports a previous decision in 2004, which aimed to cut the stockpile by 50% of the 2001 level by 2012. Yesterday's order will speed up the process; reductions are scheduled to take place by the end of this year. In addition, President Bush wants to cut the remaining stockpile by another 15% by 2012.
Last Friday, World Public Opinion.org released a poll exploring American and Russian opinion on nuclear weapons policy. Results reveal that the public strongly favors steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons; 73 percent of Americans and 63 percent of Russians support the elimination of nuclear weapons under the auspices of an effective international system.
The drumbeat for war with Iran has been banging for a few years now. Last week, beginning with President Bush's 'diplomatic' comments about "World War III," the rhetoric really seemed to heat up; and sadly so.