Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters

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In 2002 Dr. Hans Blix, then chief United Nations weapons inspector, led his team on a search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Before the United States went to war with Iraq the next March, he maintained there were no WMD in Iraq. History proved him right. For more than forty years Dr. Blix has worked on global disarmament, and with this new book he renews the call for nuclear nonproliferation. His interests, though, go beyond stemming the threat of nuclear attack from rogue states and terrorists. It is not, he argues, a recipe for success for nuclear states to tell the rest of the world that it must stay away from the very weapons that nuclear states claim are indispensable. We will never be able to convince rogue states to halt the pursuit of nuclear weapons programs unless we take the lead in a new nonproliferation and disarmament movement. Looking back at the UN post-World War II efforts against the use of nuclear weapons, Blix documents the retreat from early commitments by nuclear powers, most alarmingly from pledges against first use and toward programs to develop new types of nuclear weapons. He urges us to revive these efforts, and that the world's powers also look at issues of global disarmament and security as pieces of the same puzzle. Why Nuclear Disarmament Matters includes specific suggestions—how the UN can set the stage for a credible multilateral disarmament and nonproliferation process; what kind of treaties would be most helpful—and recommendations for regional policy, including providing the Middle East with enriched uranium for civilian nuclear power production but not allowing uranium enrichment there.From March 2000 to June 2003 Hans Blix was Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Dr. Blix, author of Disarming Iraq, is Chair of the Swedish government's Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262026444
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 4/30/2008
  • Series: Boston Review Books
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,531,396
  • Product dimensions: 7.24 (w) x 4.68 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

From March 2000 to June 2003 Hans Blix was Executive Chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Dr. Blix, author of Disarming Iraq, is Chair of the Swedish government's Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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Read an Excerpt

By Hans Blix
THE MIT PRESS Copyright © 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-262-02644-4

Chapter One Sixty years ago I was a student at the University of Uppsala in Sweden. World War II had just ended, the United Nations had been established, and we had great hopes of creating a better and more peaceful world. Our optimism was soon dashed. The Iron Curtain descended and the Cold War began, lasting nearly 45 years. It would be wrong to say that no progress was made during this period: trade and communications skyrocketed; science and technology leapt forward; human rights became a universal global concern; scores of countries won their independence; the gap between rich and poor countries was recognized as unacceptable; U.N. organizations developed as instruments for global cooperation between states; environmental hazards were recognized; and a fair amount of arms control was achieved in spite of everything. However, the threat of more than 50,000 nuclear warheads capable of destroying human civilization hung over the world.

The end of the Cold War, and of the ideological division of the world, raised hopes again for a new era of global cooperation. It was expected that arms control and disarmament would become easier after the end of the Cold War, but after some initial successes we have been disappointed. During the Cold War the American and Soviet nuclear arsenals would have sufficed to destroy human civilization several times over. Public opinion mobilized against the madness of the arms race, and despite the intense political and ideological competition, each superpower accepted some limitations on itself in order to achieve limitations on the other and on other states generally. But in recent years, with no serious territorial or ideological conflicts between the major military powers, and as states of the world have come together to face environmental and health threats, the climate for arms control and disarmament has, amazingly, deteriorated.

There are warnings that the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty-the global instrument through which states declared themselves against the acquisition of nuclear weapons and for nuclear disarmament-is now in danger. The good news is that the world is not replete with would-be violators. The overwhelming commitment to the treaty remains tremendously valuable: Libya and Iraq were both found to be in violation and brought back into observance. In two other cases-North Korea and Iran-the world is actively seeking solutions. For now, at least, there appear to be no other problematic cases.

Still, the dangers are real and the treaty is under strain. The global process of arms control and disarmament has stagnated in the last decade; it needs to be revived and pursued in tandem with efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction to more states and to terrorist movements.

Although reductions are taking place in overstocked nuclear arsenals, these are still estimated to number some 27,000 weapons; the reduction is in redundancy only. What is even worse, the commitments to further disarmament made by the nuclear-weapon states in 1995, when the non-nuclear-weapon states agreed to extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty and their pledges indefinitely, are being ignored. Meanwhile, efforts to consolidate global treaties have stalled. Not surprisingly, the 2005 review conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty ended in bitterness with many non-nuclear-weapon states feeling cheated. Negotiations have not even opened on the much-needed treaty to stop the production of fissile material for weapons.

In the last few years we have even been moving backwards. Several nuclear states no longer give pledges against first use of nuclear weapons. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon and many governments suspect Iran of developing the capacity to enrich uranium in pursuit of nuclear weapons. The United Kingdom announced that it will take steps allowing a new nuclear weapons program, and the Bush administration has declared its wish to prepare for the production of a new kind of nuclear weapon-the Bombplex-reportedly to the tune of $150 billion and probably more. Meanwhile, the U.S. administration has plans for installations in Poland and the Czech Republic as part of a missile shield. These plans worry the Russian government, which finds it hard to believe-or to persuade the Russian population-that these installations on Russia's doorstep are meant only to guard against possible future Iranian (and North Korean) missiles.


Excerpted from WHY NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT MATTERS by Hans Blix Copyright © 2008 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3

2 The Globalization of Law 19

3 The Globalization of Disarmament 39

4 Next Steps 57

App Recommendations of the WMD Commission 75

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