Friday, September 16, 2016

Nuclear Football

President Obama wants to spend a trillion dollars (with a T) to upgrade our nuclear arsenal to the next generation. Never mind that nuclear weapons have proven to be useless. During the cold war their only purpose was so superpowers could say to each other, "I'll show you mine if you show me yours! OK. Now let's talk." Even those bad old Bolshevik Soviets understood that the world had fallen into a Damocles' Dilemma where each one's sword pointed at the other one's head. They negotiated with presidents from Kennedy to Reagan to do two things. One, insure that there would be no accidental nuclear strikes and two, reduce the risk by removing the sword once and for all. We have been buying nuclear material from Russia and turning it into nuclear reactor fuel. Megatons to Megawatts, it's called. Talk about turning swords into plowshares.

And now. The most powerful nation in the world, the one that should be able to negotiate from a position of strength and benevolence, the one that should be able to say, No more! to the cycles of fear and suspicion, wants to build the next generation of a useless product that can kill by mistake?

The genie was let out of the bottle in 1945. Oppenheimer famously said, when he witnessed the first nuclear detonation, "I have become death. The destroyer of worlds." And so it began. One nation after another wanted the nuclear bomb. For status? For protection? To bluff? To use? Noone wanted to use it. They just wanted to show it off. I'll show you mine...

Since the only time nuclear weapons have been used in war in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there have been numerous treaties limiting their creation and use. lists the following:

1959 Antarctic Treaty
1963 Hot Line Agreement
1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty
1967 Outer Space Treaty
1967 Latin America Nuclear Free Zone Treaty
1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
1971 Seabed Treaty
1972 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty I (Interim Agreement)
1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty
1974 Vladivostok Agreement
1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty
1977 Environmental Modification Convention
1979 Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty II
1985 South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty
1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty - INF
1988 Ballistic Missile Launch Notification Agreement
1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
1993 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty II
1996 Treaty of Pelindaba
1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty
2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism
2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START)

That's 24 treaties limiting the use of something that should have never been created in the first place. During this time the total number of nuclear weapons went up a staggering amount and then down again by over 90%. Why reverse that? Why go up again and why build even more clever atomic cherry bombs? So our descendants can spend their time writing more treaties?

I propose a new treaty. One I hope will be the last. I've even got a clever name for it: STOP. STrategic Ordinance Prevention. Let's make this international. Not just the current nuclear powers of America, Russia, China, Israel, France, Great Britain, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Make this a United Nations resolution banning all research into new nuclear weapons. Input from all nations, guarantees all around, inspections, sharing of information, loads of suspicion. Why, all the diplomats, military types, and inspectors might be so busy looking over each other's shoulders they won't have time for war.

That would be best use of nuclear weapons I can think of.

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