By Arjun Makhijani
Transcript of radio commentary that aired February 10, 2003 on KUNM public radio 89.9 fm in Albuquerque.
War will not solve the problem of the nuclear proliferation or the threat of use of chemical or biological weapons. Indeed, constant saber-rattling is increasing the risk. By contrast, thorough inspections stand the best chance of doing the job. The United Nations-led inspections of Iraq between 1991 and 1998 led to the historic accomplishment of completely dismantling Iraq’s illegal nuclear weapons infrastructure. The inspectors who are there today have a far better chance of finding nuclear materials as well as other infrastructure related to weapons of mass destruction than an occupying army facing a sullen Iraqi elite.
The United Nations would be far more likely to get whole-hearted cooperation not only from key people in the technical elite but also from other workers and people in a position to know, if sanctions were lifted. They are contributing to the deaths of large numbers of people in Iraq, including children. The best approach for disarmament and for relieving the suffering of the people of Iraq, would be to make the inspections permanent and to lift the sanctions immediately.
If the inspectors needed armed protection, as well they might, they should get it should be provided by a police force with United Nations authorization. Such a force should be led by countries like South Africa, New Zealand, and Ireland, which are in compliance with their obligations not to possess or derive power indirectly from the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons. In contrast, the United States, like the other nuclear weapons states, is not in compliance with its treaty obligations to irreversibly reduce and get rid of nuclear weapons.
One of Mahatma Gandhi’s favorite stories was about a mother who took her son who ate too much sugar to the village priest for advice. But the priest only said “Come back in two weeks.” After two weeks, he told the young man: “Please reduce your sugar consumption.” When the mother asked why he did not say that the first time, he said: “Two weeks ago I was eating a lot of sugar myself. I had to reduce my own sugar consumption before dispensing advice.”
If possession of power is not to become a proof of virtue, then nuclear weapons states need to attend to their own obligations and allow permanent independent inspections of their nuclear installations as well.
You can find more information on nuclear disarmament and related issues IEER’s website, www.ieer.org.
I’m Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.