Nuclear Weapons, Lousy Deals and Fake Promises

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( — January 17, 2020) — Who has the right to have nuclear weapons? In theory, almost anyone with the right technology, knowledge and facilities. However, there are states allowed to produce nuclear weapons and others that are forbidden to develop those same devices. Why is that?

The reason for this is something called the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the BBC article explains. The purpose of this agreement was to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and promote disarmament, which benefits to global stability.

Since 1970, 191 states have joined this agreement. The agreement was also signed by America, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. These five countries are called nuclear powers. However, these countries are allowed to have nuclear weapons because they manufactured and tested nuclear bombs before the treaty came into force in 1967.

Nations which also have a nuclear arsenal: Israel (which never confirmed nor denied the existence of nuclear missiles), India and Pakistan never joined the NTP, and North Korea withdrew in 2003.

Iran started to enrich uranium in the 1950s and has always insisted that its nuclear program would have a peaceful purpose, to develop nuclear power plants. However, there were doubts that the Iranian nuclear program is used as a front for nuclear weapons development, prompting the United Nations Security Council, the United States and the European Union, to impose sanctions on Iran in 2010.

That led to an agreement between Iran and the major powers in 2015 under which Iran agreed to cut down its nuclear program in exchange for a trade agreement and lifting sanctions, but President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in May 2018.

At first, Iran promised it would stay in agreement to show it has nothing to hide but eventually continued its nuclear program because NATO countries pressured by the U.S. kept up the sanctions. Now, the U.S. allies from the E.U. criticize Iran for not adhering to the agreement. Occasionally, some E.U. leaders blame Donald Trump for withdrawing from the agreement but they have lined their foreign policy with the U.S.

After rising tensions between Iran and the U.S. earlier this year, Trump has vowed that as long as he is president, Iran will not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. The only way to prevent them from developing a nuclear arsenal is to invade the country, but Iran has far more military capability than Iraq or Libya.

Relations have been further aggravated after the U.S. assassinated the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad, and Iran has stressed that it will no longer abide by the restrictions imposed by any agreement and launch a missile attack on a U.S. military base. No one was hurt in this attack that induced only small material damage.

It seemed that Iran and the U.S. are on the edge of war when something unpredictable has happened: Iranian air defense mistook a civilian jet for a military target and shot down the Ukrainian Boeing 737-800 killing all of the 176 passengers onboard.

The event chilled heads, at least for now. The Iranian military took the blame and refrains from further actions. However, it will continue to enrich uranium and it is merely a matter of time until their first nuclear testing.

The number of nuclear weapons actually dropped from 70,000 in 1986 to 14,000 today.

America, Britain and Russia have reduced their supplies, but China, Pakistan, India and North Korea are believed to have continued production, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

In July 2017, it seemed as if the world was one step closer to nuclear disarmament when more than 100 countries supported the UN agreement to ban such weapons altogether. But the U.S., U.K., France and Russia boycotted the deal.

Britain and France pointed out that the agreement did not take into account the real circumstances of international security – and that nuclear deterrence is important because it has maintained peace for more than 70 years. There is a point to this argument given by Trump who promptly gave up on threatening a country armed with nuclear weapons – North Korea right after they tested their long distance rockets.

According to experts, the U.S. may spend more than a trillion dollars by 2040 to improve its nuclear capabilities. Meanwhile, North Korea continues to test and develop their nuclear program, with recent tests like the one in October 2019.

The world may have fewer nuclear missiles than it did 30 years ago, but it is hard to see nuclear weapons coming to an end any time soon.