Updated : May.03.2005 08:08 KST

[Editorial] Non-Proliferation Treaty, Weakened By US

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, held every five years, opens Monday in New York and continues through to the middle of the month. The NPT is in a weaker state than it has been at any time since it took effect in 1970, because it the goal of reducing existing nuclear weapons and stopping the production of new ones is being seriously challenged.

One of the first things you notice is the problem of non-member states. Israel, India, and Pakistan all have nuclear arms but are under no treaty constraints. Iran is suspected of trying to produce nuclear weapons. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and for years now the North Korean nuclear issue has been a major part of the international agenda. There is controversy because the United States is trying to initiate a plan that would prohibit member states that violate the treaty from the peaceful use of nuclear power. The Bush Administration wants to allow only five countries that do not have nuclear arms to be able to process uranium, namely Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil, and Argentina. Opposition to that from most non-nuclear nations is only natural.

The most serious problem is that nuclear nations are not abiding by the treaty in good faith. The US has the most nuclear weapons but is avoiding making reductions, and is trying to develop a new nuclear "bunker buster" bomb. Also, the US is determining its nuclear experiment budget while rejecting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which is supported by most nations. At the review conference 10 years ago the Clinton Administration declared that nations possessing nuclear arms would not use nuclear weapons against countries that do not have them, but the Bush Administration has turned that completely upside down and is openly pushing for a nuclear pre-emptive strike strategy.

The issue of nuclear arms will ultimately only be resolved through complete abolition. That will require nuclear nations take action. The US has the most nuclear arms, so its responsibility in that process cannot be overemphasized. The NPT treaty is in a crisis that will determine whether it continues or not.

The Hankyoreh, 3 May 2005.

[Translations by Seoul Selection (PMS)]

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