Socratic Segment: Nuclear non-proliferation a tricky, complex issue


The Socratic Segment question of the week: Who has the right to nuclear weapons?
In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was opened to nations wanting to join the cause of nuclear disarmament and the use of peaceful nuclear technology. By 1970, 190 nations had signed the treaty, led by the United States, Russia and the United Kingdom.
In the past decade, there have been many questions raised as to whether or not countries such as Iran and North Korea should be allowed to obtain this power. These are considered unstable regimes that have admitted they intend to use the technology for military purposes.
Iran signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968, yet has been working to acquire a weapon for many years. North Korea signed the treaty in 1985 but withdrew in 2003 and has since tested at least three nuclear bombs, the most recent of which was exploded last week.
What are the repercussions against those who don’t follow the treaty?
On Feb. 15, Reuters reported that “Pyongyang’s recent rocket launch and nuclear bomb test” would lead the European Union to “tighten sanctions on North Korea to curb trade in gold and diamonds and crack down on financial links.”
But North Korea is not alone when it comes to having sanctions put on them. In 2005, Iran’s newly elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lifted the suspension on the enrichment of uranium. This caused the United States to lobby for U.N. sanctions against Iran.
In 2006, the United Nations Security Council “demanded Iran suspend uranium enrichment or face possible economic [or] diplomatic sanctions.” Every year since, similar acts have been taken by the United Nations and various nations around the globe, including the United States.
Sanctions on Iran and North Korea seem to have no effect on the progression of their nuclear technology. Should more be done to prevent these countries from obtaining it?
And what about other countries who have nuclear weapons? India, Pakistan and Israel never joined the non-proliferation treaty, yet have obtained vast numbers of nuclear warheads.
Should sanctions be put on them as well until they agree to disarm?
Eddie Dunne, a senior studying health science, believes that “rogue regimes” should be kept from reaching this technology, and the United States should lead the way.
“There needs to be a mentality of group transparency,” Dunne said. “This type of technology needs to be policed by those countries that are willing to use it for good. The U.S. is the strongest country on earth and needs to be chief when it comes to keeping these rogue regimes from getting this technology,” Dunne said.
Most agree that nuclear weapons in the hands of those who will use them for harm is not a good thing. But are these prohibitions and sanctions more than just a way to stop the advancement of this technology? Are there unintended and perhaps delayed consequences?
“When you put sanctions on a country, it is an act of war,” said Texas Congressman Ron Paul.
“What would we do if someone blockaded and put sanctions on us and prevented the importation of any product? We are the antagonist. We’re over there poking our nose in other people’s affairs just looking for the chance to start another war,” Paul said.
This brings state sovereignty into the discussion and challenges all those who would utilize sanctions as a means of coercing a nation against its will. When a nation feels they are being threatened, they are liable to want to defend themselves.
Does a sovereign state have a right to its own decisions on their nuclear capabilities? Should the United States police the world, stopping “rogue regimes” in their pursuit of nuclear weapons?
This is one of the more complex problems facing our world today, and many dynamics are involved. But these questions will no doubt be relevant for decades to come.
Let’s just pray that whatever the outcome may be, peace prevails.