At a meeting of NATO leaders in mid October 2010, Hilary Clinton declared that NATO must “remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist”. The statement is not only logically amusing, it is, more importantly, criminal. The US cannot ask nonnuclear nations not to produce nuclear weapons or new nuclear nations to get rid of their nuclear weapons unless the US is, simultaneously, willing to get rid of theirs. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty clearly states as one of its central tenants that the nuclear weapons nations who signed it—of which the US is one—undertake “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, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control”.
America’s declaration that it intends to maintain its nuclear weapons, unlike Iran’s declaration that it intends to pursue nuclear energy, is a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. So Clinton’s statement identifies America as a rogue state outside of international law. Perhaps Iran, and not America, should be the one considering the sanctions.
But it is worse than that. Clinton’s statement has two parts, and both reveal America’s disregard for international law. The first, as we have seen, is America’s maintenance of a nuclear arsenal in violation of her Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments. The second is the fact that nuclear weapons still exist for America to worry about. Why, after all, are we living in a nuclear world?
We are living in a nuclear world, in part, because America has facilitated its development by turning a blind eye to it and by encouraging it. And this is an equally egregious violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which also states that “Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes . . . not to in any way assist, encourage or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons”.
In addition to the five countries who have illegally maintained their nuclear weapons—the US, Russia, Britain, France and China—there are four countries who have illegally acquired theirs: India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. And America has defaulted on her commitment “not to in any way assist” in every case. So America has disregarded international law both by encouraging nuclear weapons to exist and then by declaring the need to maintain hers as long as they do.
According to Noam Chomsky, the Bush administration made a nuclear agreement with India “that tears to shreds the central part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty”. Political scientist Stephen Zunes says that Bush gave India access to sensitive nuclear technology and nuclear-capable weapons systems without requiring her to give up its nuclear weapons program or to stop enriching weapons grade plutonium in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which India has refused to sign. Even though India is in defiance of Security Council Resolution 1172, which calls on her to eliminate her nuclear weapons, the Obama administration continues to provide India with nuclear-capable aircrafts and to directly facilitate India’s nuclear program, according to Zunes. Just last year, the States agreed to build two nuclear power stations in India and to sell India military equipment despite her continued refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Across the border in Pakistan, the situation is almost as bad. The world has known about Pakistan’s nuclear program since the late 1970’s. But despite the overwhelming evidence, the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations formally denied Pakistan was developing nuclear weapons and continued to supply her with the very F-16 aircrafts that nuclear analysts said Pakistan would use to deliver her nuclear bombs. It was not until 1998, when Pakistan transparently became a nuclear weapons state by carrying out nuclear weapons tests, that Clinton finally imposed sanctions on Pakistan. The same year, the UN passed a resolution calling on Pakistan to eliminate her nuclear weapons, but, Zunes says, the US has blocked any sanctions or other means of enforcing that resolution. In 2001, Bush repealed Clinton’s sanctions and the restriction on military aid to new nuclear states and recommenced the suspended sale of nuclear-capable F-16’s. Stephen Kinzer has also pointed out that Pakistan gained a decade to work on its nuclear weapons program without having to worry about the United States by partnering with the States during the Afghan-Soviet war. In order to ally with Pakistan, the States had to cozy up to her dictator, General Zia al-Huq, and his goal of acquiring illegal nuclear weapons. Pakistan emerged from the war substantially further ahead in her nuclear weapons program while the States lied and covered for them.
US knowledge of and complicity in Israel’s nuclear weapons program goes back even earlier. National Security Archive papers reveal that the US knew in 1968 that Israel was developing nuclear weapons, but went ahead with the sale of jets anyway. George Monbiot says in an article in The Guardian that in 1969 US officials were sent to inspect Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant, but that State Department memos make it clear that the Americans were covering for Israel and that the inspection was not to be a real inspection. Soon after, these US inspections would stop altogether. It was also in 1969, according to Zunes, that Nixon privately endorsed Israel’s nuclear weapons program. American violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty would continue under each subsequent president. According to the General Accounting Office, George H.W. Bush sold at least 1,500 duel use items to Israel despite the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s order “not to in any way assist . . . any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons”. Stephen Zunes says that Clinton assured Netanyahu that he would continue to protect Israel’s nuclear weapons program. And Obama? Israel’s Army Radio reported in July of this year that the US had secretly committed to nuclear cooperation with Israel and promised to sell Israel nuclear technology and supplies, despite Israel’s not being a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
North Korea is a more modern story. It begins in 1994 when Jimmy Carter’s intervention opened the door to the Framework Agreement. In accordance with the agreement, North Korea had stopped testing long range missiles and was not making any more bombs. But then Bush threatened North Korea, in violation of the agreement, by naming it a member of the Axis of Evil and by listing it in the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review as a country the US should be prepared to drop a nuclear bomb on. The States also only came through on 15% of the fuel she promised in the agreement. The US then cancelled the agreement, and North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In 2005, North Korea again agreed to completely eliminate its nuclear weapons program and allow inspectors in exchange for American assurance that she would stop threatening attacks and begin planning for a light water reactor—which can’t be used for weapons—and fuel. But Chomsky says that Bush promptly cancelled the light water reactor, took up the threats again, and froze North Korean funds in foreign banks. With the agreement killed once more, the North Koreans returned to their weapons program and tested a weapon.
So the US, in criminal violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, bears part of the blame for the nuclear world that Clinton finds herself in: in contravention of the treaty, America assisted or encouraged every non-nuclear-weapon state that illegally became a nuclear weapon state to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons. And then The States is in violation of the treaty again when she declares her intention to remain a nuclear state when she signed in agreement to pursue the elimination of her own nuclear weapons and complete nuclear disarmament. So Clinton’s two part statement is criminal in two parts.