Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Bush Administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is irresponsible.

Why you're right:

1.Undersecretary of State John Bolton sees little difference between 2 and 7 nuclear weapons. During the Bush Administration’s total focus on Iraq, North Korea was able to restart work on plutonium and went from 2 to 7 plutonium-based nuclear weapons. Bolton replied, “This is quibbling, to say they had two plutonium-based nuclear weapons and now they have seven. The uranium enrichment capability gives them the ability to produce an unlimited number.” (Washington Post)

2. The Bush Administration ignored nuclear proliferation and went after an empty country. Bush ignored North Korea while he focused on Iraq. Under Bush’s “watch,” North Korea has not only restart work on plutonium, but also expelled U.N. inspectors, restarted its Yongbyon reactors, and withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. While no WMD have been found in Iraq, over 300 tons of explosives (which could be used to detonate a nuclear bombs or be used as car bombs) disappeared under U.S. watch. (Washington Post, New York Times)

3. Less fissile material has been obtained in the two years after 9/11 than in the two years before. “Bureaucratic obstacles” and “disputes over access to sensitive sites” have been the two main delays in securing fissile material, but Bush did not step in and help resolve them. These minor complications have allowed more fissile material to get into the wrong hands. If the current rate of obtainment continued, it would be over a decade before the job was done. (Harvard)

4. The administration has cut funding for Nunn-Lugar. The Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction program has helped deactivate over 6000 nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union and the United States. The current funding level for the program is $450 million, down from its $475 million in 2000. (Nuclear Threat Intiative, Public Law 108-87)

Why they're wrong:

The difference between 2 and 7 nuclear weapons isn’t minor. If the U.S. does not make a real commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, we will lose the war on terrorism. Nuclear weapons are a prize target for terrorists and many nuclear experts believe that there is a good chance that a nuclear attack (killing as many as 500,000 people) could occur against the U.S. within the next ten years. (New York Times)