Monday, November 24, 2008

So will all options be "on the table" with Brazil and Venezuela, just like North Korea and Iran?

Tricky thing that national self-determination.

Countries and their leaders keep doing what they think is in their best interests, no matter what the industrialized west thinks.

From Jason Poblete:

While it barely generates the media attention that Iran or North Koreahas during the past few years, there are leaders in Latin America, South America to be exact, who have hinted that nuclear weaponization programs are a “right” of developing countries. Despite public acts to the country such as signing on to key non-proliferation treaties or agreements, as well as making the perfunctory diplomatic statements on non-proliferation, it is not clear that Brazil and Venezuela have completely abandoned nuclear weapons research. In some cases, it is quite the opposite.

In an article published in the most recent edition of the U.S. Army War College publication, Parameters, Nader Elhefnawy writes about The Next Wave of Nuclear Proliferation. While I do not agree with all of his conclusions, it provides a good overview of the nuclear proliferation challenges for the very near future and some thoughtful recommendations on how to start tackling this challenge, including in places such as South America.

If you are a frequent reader of this site, you know that I have penned a few general items about Brazil’s muddy record on nuclear transparency. Latin America has already had a mini-nuclear technological race fueled by Brazil and Argentina. Argentina has generally come clean on this matter, yet crucial questions remain regarding Brazil’s commitment on weaponization. As I wrote in October, “[t]he U.S. and regional powers need to ensure that the South American nuclear genie stays in the bottle.”

As Elhefnawy reminds readers, “long-established research strongly indicates that the motivation to build nuclear weapons is more of a factor than simply achieving the technological capacity … [t]he relative ease with which the weapons might be built is proof of this; a program to develop a minimal capability from scratch could cost as little as $500 million, less than the price of a modern warship.”


An interventionist foreign policy can delay but not prevent nuclear proliferation.

In many cases, the threat of foreign intervention may spur the perceived need for a nuclear deterrent.

As the cases of India and Pakistan proved well before Iran and North Korea, Elhefnawy is right: any moderately developed nation can do the research and purchase the infrastructure to create nuclear weapons.

The current international paradigm among the great nuclear powers is the de-legitimization of any State that aspires to possess nuclear weapons.

This is a paradigm which--and this is a scary thought--the Dubya and Obama-to-be administrations seem to have in common.

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