Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nuclear Security, Proliferation and Profit

If you own land a city is built upon, a lot of income flows your way for a long time. Land on its outskirts is ideal to build an electric plant on, and by billing the residents, income flows in from every resident of that city. But nuclear weapons manufacturers have a harder time. The uranium and plutonium processing facilities that were built to create an atom bomb in 1941 are only of value to their present owners if people fear that a foreign power wants to launch a weapon at them.

Said Bill Clinton's nuclear negotiator with North Korea, "you have got to have an enemy to justify large expenditures on weapons."

The Nuclear Security Summit, now in its second day in Washington, is advertised as the largest meeting about nuclear weapons in America since the San Francisco conference that founded the United Nations in 1945. However, it fails to address two important questions.

First: Is there any threat of a nuclear weapon being detonated in any city?
Second: What is the motivation behind constructing or using a nuclear weapon?

When the Soviet Union was going out of business in 1989, the administration of George Bush Senior watched North Korea start separating plutonium from the fuel in its nuclear reactor and did nothing to stop it. At the time, North Korea had no nuclear weapons, and could have been blocked from building any.

But rather than block it, the Defense Department looked the other way. Pyongyang soon separated enough plutonium to make one or two simple nuclear warheads, bought missile technology from close US-allies, and announced that they had a nuclear warhead. At that moment, the US could no longer block North Korea from manufacturing more weapons, because of the risk of North Korea bombing Tokyo.

North Korea's nuclear threat has been used as a 'deterrent' against any threat of attack by the United States ever since.

So when the Nuclear Security Summit is over, and the people in the US and elsewhere hear the White House announcement that today they are safer than there were on Sunday, don't celebrate.

The same people fear the same outcome as they did before the summit. They will continue to sacrifice the money they pay the government for health care and education, and just keep enriching nuclear weapons manufacturers. As long as the profit motive is kept out of the news, people will split their paychecks with them.

Today people are fearful. News reports telling them they are in danger of "terrorists" getting a nuclear weapon, scare people enough to eliminate any risk that people will stop paying.

Because they are fearful, there is no motive for anyone to threaten to launch a nuclear weapon at the US or a US-ally. However, if people suddenly stopped believing news reports, or began to look at the balance sheets of the manufacturers, someone would have to threaten to attack, in order to raise the fear level again.

Why did the 9-11 hijackers fly past nuclear reactors on their way to photo-opportunities at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? They could have brought half of the United States to its knees by crashing into completely undefended nuclear reactors in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Maryland. But they were not making war, just making fear.

The money going to the weapons manufacturers has grown drastically ever since.

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