At the end little has changed in the world since World War II and the atomic warfare of the Cold War days. Nowadays, having the atomic-bomb still means power, and to get a bomb is at this time easier than ever with North Korean nukes topping the lists in the black market this week. The world keeps on standing as is stood in the midst of the 20th Century: vis-à-vis with the threat of a chain reaction of world-wide atomic proliferation.
In 1968, the U.S., France, Great Britain, Russia, and China — the winners of WW2 and today’s five permanent members of the United Nation’s Security Council — decided for throttling off the head of what they feared could become a many-headed dragon avidly firing menaces of mass destruction in times of the Cold War. The international swoop under the threat’s head was hence to be given by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), which was rashly signed in 1968 by the U.S. , Great Britain and the Soviet-Union. It entered into force on March 1970.
Hitherto the NPT has been signed by 189 States (France and China only did it until 1992); it has been avoided by India , Pakistan and Israel ; it has been eminently despised, and will possibly be soon violated, by Iran . The NPT has also proven (again) to be highly inefficient: North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, who resigned to it thirteen years ago, has tested a nuke last Monday. And finally, like any other effort of obtaining world-wide norms of conduct through treaties, the NPT is utterly vulnerable: should Iran build the bomb, so would Egypt and Saudi-Arabia want to do it; and after Monday’s explosion in northern North Korea , Japan too!
Indeed, the result of the non-proliferations efforts turns up being, one more time, the common place of modern international justice-making: after the brief flourishing of an assumed “better world” during the post-Cold War era, at the dawn of 2006 Planet Earth proves to be an extremely dangerous place to live in. Atomic weapon proliferation is on the run.
And there is not much to wonder about this. The world has in fact been giving everyone on “the dark side” enough reasons for grabbing the stew-pots of atomic madness.
The NPT is certainly a funny working artifice. Founded upon the idea of a fair negotiation, it declares the existence of only five atomic-powers, being these the five permanent Security Council members. The rest of the world, according to it, resigns to atomic armament by signing in, but obtains the right of using nuclear energy for civilized purposes with the approval and supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Additionally, the Treaty contains a sort of promise of the atomic-powers to slowly shut down their atomic-arsenals.
But nothing of the sort has happened. Neither nuclear energy has been used properly by undersigning nations; nor the five atomic-powers have even showed the willingness to start dismantling their atomic-arsenals (45 000 declared warheads are still intact); nor all NPT-signing countries are trustworthy (and not only Iran is being meant here); nor all NPT-signing countries must obey the Treaty: they can simply jump out of the philanthropic caravan back into the unruly jungle of illegality, and produce the bomb. It’s as simple as that.
With its depart from NPT on 10th April 1993 (after years of great diplomatic efforts) North Korea, an infamous communist dictatorship still existing in a globalized 21th Century world, stepped out into the jungle—and today, it has enough plutonium for producing at least nine serviceable warheads. North Korea has become a world-power, literally, from one day to the other.
IAEA’s Director General, Mohammed ElBaradei, is right by saying that the reported nuclear test threatens the nuclear non-proliferation regime and that it creates serious security challenges for the international community. If Dictator Kim Jong Il does have the nuclear weapons he alleges to possess, he could proliferate atomic weaponry and atomic know-how to underground organizations, while at the same time obtaining enough money from these deals in order to survive the punishments already heralded by the international community. Hell of a stunt.
But if North Korea’s trick works out and the dictatorship subsists the wide-spread reactions against it’s atomic-power, I mean, if North Korea consolidates as a world-menacing power in the Far East, then the world did change last Monday. Thomas Friedman’s tremor facing the possibility of “a nuclear Asia, a nuclear Middle East and a disintegrating Iraq in the heart of the Arab world, with its destabilizing impact on oil prices and terrorism” might turn to be truth in the forthcoming years. And that day me too, I’d then like having the bomb!