Welcome to the Nuclear Club!
By Norman Solomon
10/09/06 "Counterpunch" --- --
Moments after hearing about North
Korea's nuclear test, I thought of Albert Einstein's statement
that "there is no secret and there is no defense; there is no
possibility of control except through the aroused understanding
and insistence of the peoples of the world."
During the six decades since Einstein spoke, experience has
shown that such understanding and insistence cannot be filtered
through the grid of hypocrisy. Nuclear weapons can't be
controlled by saying, in effect, "Do as we say, not as we do."
By developing their own nuclear weaponry, one nation after
another has replied to the nuclear-armed states: Whatever you
say, we'll do as you've done.
In early summer, with some fanfare, officials in Washington
announced the dismantling of the last W56 nuclear warhead -- a
1.2 megaton model from the 1960s. Self-congratulation was in the
air, as a statement hailed "our firm commitment to reducing the
size of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile to the lowest
levels necessary for national security needs." That's the kind
of soothing PR that we've been getting ever since the nuclear
Right now, the U.S. government has upwards of 10,000 nuclear
bombs and warheads in its arsenal. And -- as the Washington Post
uncritically reported the same week as the announcement about
the end of the W56 warhead -- Congress and the White House are
resolutely moving ahead with plans for "a new generation of U.S.
nuclear weapons" under the rubric of the Reliable Replacement
Warhead program: "The nation's two nuclear weapons design
centers, the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national
laboratories, are competing to design the first RRW.... A second
RRW design competition may provide an opportunity to the losing
For more than 50 years, Washington has preached the global
virtues of "peaceful" nuclear power reactors -- while denying
their huge inherent dangers and their crucial role in
proliferating nuclear weaponry. The denial meant that people and
the environment would suffer all along the nuclear fuel cycle,
from uranium mining to nuclear waste; and that the 1979 disaster
at Three Mile Island would be followed by the continuing horrors
In recent decades, the denial has also spread nuclear weapons
across the planet. Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea can
thank the apostles of the nuclear-power gospel -- and the
companion profiteers of nuclear exports -- for the technological
pipeline that has funneled the capacity to develop nuclear
President Dwight Eisenhower's delusional and deluding speech to
the U.N. General Assembly on Dec. 8, 1953, now has a macabre
echo: "The United States pledges before you -- and therefore
before the world -- its determination to help solve the fearful
atomic dilemma -- to devote its entire heart and mind to find
the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not
be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life."
Running parallel to the mendacious career of the "peaceful
atom," U.S. foreign policy has hit new lows during the last
several years. The invasion of Iraq, on the pretext of
non-existent WMDs, sent a powerful message. If the U.S.
government was inclined to launch an attack before a country had
the capability to generate a mushroom cloud, then the country
would be protected from such attack by developing nuclear
weapons as soon as possible.
Coupled with the contempt for genuine diplomacy that the Bush
administration has repeatedly shown, Washington's eagerness to
use military might has fueled the dangers of a nuclear-weapons
standoff with North Korea. Two of the sacred axioms of the Bush
regime -- secrecy and violence -- cannot solve this problem and
in fact can only make it worse. Einstein was correct; with
nuclear weapons, "there is no secret and there is no defense."
As for "the aroused understanding and insistence of the peoples
of the world" -- that will need to come from us. Starting now.
Rest assured that while President Bush was at a podium in the
White House on Monday denouncing the North Korean nuclear test
as a "provocative act," Karl Rove was hard at work to fine-tune
plans for a rhetorical onslaught linking this crisis to the "war
on terror." Bush was already laying the groundwork for such an
effort as he spoke -- warning of "a grave threat to the United
States" if North Korea gives nuclear-related technology to "any
state or non-state actor."
For the next four weeks, the Bush administration will do its
best to exploit the North Korean nuclear test to stave off a
loss of the Republican majority in Congress. We should not allow
those efforts to obscure how Bush's reckless record has
heightened the nuclear dangers for everyone.
Norman Solomon is the author of
War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to
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