Thursday, June 22, 2006

Iran, Trident and leadership

Currently the UK is among a group of Western countries trying to persuade, or cajole, Iran into giving up its plans to develop nuclear power. The powers believe, despite Iranian denials, that Iran’s real intention is to develop nuclear weapons. The West feels that Iran is not to be trusted with such WMDs and is quick to point out that development of such weapons would breach Iran’s obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. What the West in general and the UK in particular fail to point out is that article VI of the same treaty calls on the existing nuclear powers to undergo “…general and complete disarmament …”

So, the UK is breaching its own treaty obligations and has been for a number of years by not disarming. Up to now it could put up an arguable case as to why it had to retain a nuclear arsenal, but with the end of the Cold War and Trident reaching the end of its shelf life, this becomes much harder. It could (and will) point to the threat poised by the newer nuclear powers and the danger of rouge states giving terrorists nuclear weapons to justify upgrading. But Iran could use the same arguments to justify withdrawal from the treaty under article 10, which covers “..extraordinary events..” such as perceived threats.

Should the UK use the conjunction of Trident and Iran to show some leadership and offer unilateral nuclear disarmament, provided Iran gives enforceable undertakings to forego nuclear weapons? It would enable the West to lose the stench of hypocrisy and gain the moral high ground while not forcing Iran to lose face. Or is such leadership too much to expect?


At Thursday, June 22, 2006 12:13:00 pm, Blogger David Brewer said...

I agree entirely. The hypocrisy issue is an essential first step.


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