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WHAT WE THINK
U.S. officials target Iran and North Korea, but Washington is...
The real nuclear threat

May 13, 2005 | Page 3

A ROGUE nation is rushing toward nuclear weapons testing in defiance of international treaties and recently threatened to carry out military strikes that could trigger a horrific regional nuclear war.

But no one dares to threaten United Nations (UN) sanctions or pre-emptive military strikes against this country, even though it's driving the nuclear arms race worldwide. That's because its capital is Washington, D.C.--and its leaders get to decide which countries are allowed to have nuclear weapons, and which are not.

This is the context of recent U.S. threats toward Iran for developing nuclear technology and North Korea for its alleged attempts to carry out a nuclear test.

White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said a North Korean nuclear test would be a "provocative act"--and the U.S. had "a robust deterrent capability, and no one should mistake what our capability is." The Japanese government, taking an increasingly aggressive role as U.S. enforcer in East Asia, threatened to refer North Korea to the UN Security Council, a first step towards implementing sanctions.

The U.S. has insisted on complete, immediate and verifiable nuclear disarmament by North Korea, making only vague promises of economic assistance in return.

Washington's real agenda was disclosed recently when Chinese officials reported that U.S. negotiators asked China to cut off North Korea's oil supply. China refused. But the U.S. efforts show who's really responsible for "provocative acts" that could risk nuclear war on the Korean peninsula--a conflict that could leave millions dead.

Simultaneously, the U.S. and its European sidekicks are pressuring Iran for its pursuit of nuclear technology, which has potential military applications, but is legal under international treaties. By contrast, the U.S. has refused to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, having already abrogated the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to build its new "Star Wars" weapons.

"The U.S. maintains enough nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert to destroy the world hundreds of times over, and is now researching new, more usable tactical nuclear weapons and adopting a military posture that allows the use of nuclear weapons in pre-emptive attacks," Alice Slater, director of the Global Resource Action Center for the Environment, said at the opening of this month's UN conference on nuclear disarmament.

Washington's new generation of tactical nuclear weapons, such as "bunker busters," is aimed at making the use of nukes politically acceptable. It's the U.S. willingness to use such terrifying weaponry--and the occupation of Iraq--that is driving a new nuclear arms race.

U.S. moves toward disarmament since the end of the Cold War with the former USSR have been token. As former Assistant Defense Secretary Lawrence Korb pointed out, "America still has a nuclear arsenal of about 7,000 active nuclear bombs, spread out on submarines, land-based missiles and bombers, and ready to fire at a moment's notice. If you add the nuclear warheads in storage, our arsenal totals at least 10,000."

Why maintain this arsenal, large enough to destroy the world several times over? Bruce Blair, president of the Center for Defense Information and a former nuclear weapons military officer, explained the reasons in 2003.

"The real obsession of the U.S. nuclear enterprise at all levels--from Strategic Command in Omaha to the bomb custodians and designers in New Mexico--is keeping U.S. nuclear forces prepared to fight a large-scale nuclear war at a moment's notice with...Russia," he wrote. That's because Russia, despite the collapse of the old USSR and its weak economy, still maintains the nuclear reach to counter U.S. threats.

The more the U.S. pushes militarism to the center of world politics, the more dangerous the planet becomes. Washington's imperial drive is the reason for the saber rattling at Iran and North Korea.

The U.S. doesn't really want an end to nuclear terror in the world. It only wants a monopoly in using it.

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