Taking a Stand for American Leadership for Nuclear Abolition
by Alice Slater
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment (GRACE)


Traditional arms control agreements and new opportunities for abolishing nuclear weapons are on a collision course with the current corporate-driven efforts to build a new "Son of Star Wars". Clinton has failed to respond to a Russian offer to cut our respective nuclear arsenals to 1500 nuclear tipped missiles or even less. Were we to accept the Russian offer we would then have an opportunity to bring all the other nuclear weapons states (whose arsenals number in the hundreds) to the negotiating table for a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons, just as the world has done for chemical and biological weapons. This would bring us into compliance with our legal obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty as interpreted by a unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice that there is an obligation "to bring to a conclusion, negotiations for nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."

Instead, the Clinton administration is presently conducting a series of tests before deciding whether to build a limited ground-based National Missile Defense (NMD) to protect the US against the threat of nuclear attack from so-called "rogue" states such as North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. An NMD will violate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. Both Russia and China have warned that any violation of the ABM Treaty will compel them to build up their nuclear arsenals to overcome our shield. The only real nuclear threat to US security is from an accidental launch from Russia’s massive nuclear arsenals poised at hair-trigger alert with aging command and control centers, or from a new nuclear arms race with China and Russia, which will spark increased activity by India and then Pakistan, while demonstrating to other nuclear "wannabes" that there is no commitment to honor our legal obligations to eliminate nuclear weapons. Any one of the 44 countries with nuclear reactors is capable of building a bomb. It is no secret to other nations that the US Air Force/ Space Command proclaims its mission by 2020 is to "control and dominate" the military use of space "to protect US interests and investments."

Bush has actually called for a space shield, stating that Clinton’s proposed ground-based NMD is inadequate. Bush’s plan is to go it alone, cutting nuclear weapons unilaterally without negotiating with Russia while violating the ABM treaty, which will set off a new arms race to the heavens and result in billions of dollars in profits for military contractors. While Clinton has been pounding unsuccessfully on Russia for the past two years to modify the ABM treaty, so as to permit NMD to go forward legally, Gore, not to be outdone by Bush, has stated his willingness to abrogate the ABM treaty to protect us against North Korea.

To eliminate the nuclear threat we must eliminate nuclear weapons. Polls show that over 80% of all Americans favor a treaty to ban the bomb. The path is clear. Keep space weapons-free. Take up Putin’s offer to cut to 1,000 long-range nuclear weapons and invite the other nuclear weapons states to the negotiating table. Both China and India have repeatedly stated their willingness to negotiate for total nuclear disarmament. Pakistan will follow India’s lead and the remaining countries, France, UK, and Israel will follow US leadership if we dare to exercise it.

Copyright Alice Slater


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