A Real Threat?

19 April 2010 | 17:35 Code : 7389 AMERICA
How the U.S. is Abusing Fear of Nuclear Terrorism to Work Towards its Hegemonic Goals.By Kayhan Barzegar
A Real Threat?
The introduction of the concept of ‘nuclear terrorism’ as the centerpiece of the new U.S. nuclear strategy document, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is somehow linked with global nuclear disarmament.

There are two important points to not miss when reading the new U.S. nuclear text: First, the United States becomes committed to not use its nuclear arsenal against those countries which do not possess nuclear weapons. However, Iran and North Korea are exempt from enjoying this secure position. Reference to Iran should raise one’s interest since it is the first time an official U.S. document threatens a non-nuclear weapons state. It is perhaps a residue of the Cold War mentality in which deterrence was the absolutely dominant theme. Paradoxically, reliance on nuclear weapons to establish security is a stumbling block if the Obama administration is sincerely aiming for global nuclear disarmament.

A nuclear threat is diametrically opposed to those principles Obama claims to follow in establishing a safer world—a world in which multilateralism is a given. Does the U.S. president expect a country threatened with nuclear weapons to not defend itself with all means? Foreign threats profoundly justify self-defense. Obama’s newly-released nuclear strategy document, which claims to promote global peace, is still abusive in nature—only repackaged for propaganda usage.

Second and more important in the document is the focus on nuclear terrorism, a newly-coined term in U.S. national security and nuclear discourse. For the Obama administration, the gravest threat in the short, medium, and long-term lies in the possibility of terrorists’ access to nuclear weapons. This was at the top of the agenda in the ‘Nuclear Security Summit’ held in Washington this week.

The concept of nuclear terrorism is in fact linked to a strategy redefinition the Obama administration has undertaken to sustain the United States global hegemony. The war against terrorism has turned into the cornerstone of U.S. national security strategy in the post 9/11 era, relevant themes have been further developed during Obama’s presidency. Nuclear terrorism is now perceived as the most serious asymmetric threat against America’s national security.

Another point one shouldn’t miss is the fact that the Americans are cleverly trying to link nuclear terrorism to the concept of ‘interconnected global security’. According to this strategy, U.S. security is equivalent with global security and are not separated. That explains why the United States tries to convince other nations to accept its leadership in war against the greatest threat against the international community, that is, terrorism and to ensure that terrorists will never gain access to nuclear weapons or materials. This is another strategy by which the U.S. buys itself legitimacy—legitimacy it had lost during Bush’s presidency through his unsubstantiated war against Iraq and his unilateral policies.

By incorporating nuclear terrorism as a new theme in its nuclear strategy, the United States will create the settings to make broad interpretations of threats against global security and entitle itself to interfere in the domestic affairs of other nations. In this context, some observers believe nuclear terrorism is not a real threat, but just a new tool for the Obama administration to achieve its golbal goals.

Foregrounding a secondary concern such as nuclear terrorism might meanwhile divert attention from the United States’ commitment to nuclear disarmament. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is based on three pillars: global disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and the peaceful use of nuclear technology. The West prefers to focus on the non-proliferation pillar of the NPT since it serves as a good pretext to limit other countries’ access to peaceful nuclear technology. Overemphasis on this pillar also draws attention away from the key pillar of global disarmament, which is the demand of countries like Iran and Non-Aligned Movement members. The Obama administration NPR is a textbook example of how global powers will work to preserve their nuclear monopoly.

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