What's happening at the
Sunday 18 Feb 2018 | 18:07 | SYDNEY
Sunday 18 Feb 2018 | 18:07 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: Let's hear from the Nuclear Commission



21 October 2008 14:30

Chris Skinner ties together some recent debates on The Interpreter, and concludes that Prime Minister Rudd's Nuclear Commission has much work to do (my comment follows):

There has been a lot of fascinating debate on North Korean accommodation by Washington and its implications for Japan and South Korea. Earlier, there was a similar though less strongly debated discussion on the Iran nuclear potential as it affects Israel and other US allies in the Middle East. Isn’t it now high time for the much vaunted Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Commission to start articulating the arguments that will persuade all of the above that disarmament is both desirable and practical in an uncertain world?

Frankly I think the whole idea of the Commission is idealistic but impractical, as there is no real incentive to advance its cause. Sometimes the world is unable to move forward without the real experience of a disaster to provide the compelling spectre of a doomsday alternative.

I hope this is not the case but am pessimistic based on the ineffectual pressure on both Iran and North Korea. We should gauge success in the long term by the decision made by Japan as to whether it can rely on US nuclear deterrence of North Korea or else needs its own deterrent. Israel made that decision a long time ago and everything that has happened since and continues with Iran only reinforces the validity of their decision.

This will surely be considered by Japan and South Korea in their own decisions in the near future. So the Commission needs to get a move on, if it is truly intended to prevent further proliferation, let alone persuade current nuclear powers to divest!

Like Chris, I am a bit sceptical about this Commission, but let's not allow the Iran and North Korea examples to completely dominate our thinking. South Africa, after all, voluntarily scrapped its small nuclear arsenal, as did several former Soviet states. And Libya was persuaded to forgo WMD and ballistic missile capability. In each case the circumstances were peculiar and the outcomes thus not repeatable, but these examples ought to give us some hope that nuclear proliferation is not inexorable or inevitable.

You may also be interested in...