The US, Mini Nukes And Iran

People’s Democracy

Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 49


US, Mini Nukes And Iran



continuing threat of nuclear weapons hanging over the globe has been brought out
sharply by two recent developments. The United States has announced the
development of mini nukes and bunker buster bombs in complete violation of the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). By this treaty, the nuclear powers were
supposed to have disarmed and held good faith negotiations for this. Instead, it
is clear that the US is continuing its development of next generation of nuclear
weapons. The second is the recent imbroglio over Iran, which shows the nuclear
covenant is no longer holding as, increasingly, weapons technology is no longer
a question of capability but of political will. The acquisition of weapons
technology is within the reach of 35-40 countries and if nuclear weapons
continue to be retained by the US and sought to be incorporated in dangerous
doctrines such as “pre-emptive strikes,” “taking out unfriendly regimes”
and so on, this then fuels the desire of others to have the “nuclear





is important to understand that the danger to the world comes not only from
proliferation of countries declared rogue by the US as they want the world to
believe, but also from the refusal of the US and other nuclear powers to disarm.
Not only are they refusing to disarm, the US — in clear violation of NPT —
has now put in place its new doctrine which envisages nuclear weapons being used
even against non-nuclear countries. The basis of NPT was that non-nuclear
countries would not develop nuclear weapons and the nuclear countries would give
up theirs. The nuclear weapons powers also gave a guarantee in the NPT that they
would not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon countries. The
International Court of Justice has already held that NPT imposes good faith
negotiations for complete nuclear disarmament and also that the use of nuclear
weapons is illegal. The only issue on which the court did not pronounce was: if
a country’s existence is threatened, is it then justified in using nuclear
weapons for its survival? Obviously, pre-emptive use that the current Bush
doctrine envisages is clearly illegal.


world would become an infinitely more dangerous place if more and more countries
develop nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons cannot be justified under any
circumstances, just as chemical and biological weapons cannot be justified. The
issue here is not only a moral and ethical one of whether weapons that kill
indiscriminately, combatants and non-combatants, should be used. The far larger
question is that these weapons pose a risk to all living beings on earth: a
nuclear exchange or biological weapons gone wild can destroy life, as we know
it. For people who play war games, this is a trivial matter as long as they can
use such weapons to impose their will on others. For the rest, it is a matter of
survival, not only for themselves, but possibly for the entire human race. That
these are sought to be made matters of “strategic doctrine” is itself the
issue. And that the key violator of this basic doctrine should pose as the
world’s conscience, is what is fuelling the failure of the original nuclear


had not signed the NPT stating that any treaty that obliges countries to give up
nuclear weapons without a time bound disarmament programme, runs the risk of
accepting nuclear weapons in perpetuity. This is exactly what the US now claims;
they have categorically stated that they have the right to keep nuclear weapons
for all times. While the non-nuclear countries were willing to even accept this
state, the change started when all nuclear powers connived with Israel turning a
nuclear weapons power. Even worse, the whole world knows that this was done with
the active help of the US.




nuclear Israel would automatically fuel nuclear ambitions in West Asia. As long
as the technology was expensive and difficult, such ambitions may have been
easier to contain. But with increasing spread of advanced technologies and its
decreasing cost (in relation to a country’s GDP or the arm budget), more and
more countries are capable of building up a nuclear infrastructure. The second
impetus for covert nuclear weapons building came from the United States and its
display of conventional military might. It now is clear to the world that the US
can punch through the military formation of any country: there is a yawning gulf
between the US and all other countries in conventional weaponry.

countries that feel threatened by the US and its open declaration regarding
“regime changes” then consider nuclear weapons as their only hope of
containing US attacks on themselves. Both North Korea and Iran therefore look
upon nuclear weapons as their survival strategy. 
And irrespective of whatever that countries may say publicly, post Iraq,
the attraction of nuclear weapons has grown in the world. And along with it, the
attraction of other weapons of mass destruction — chemical and biological
weapons or what are called the poor countries’ weapons of mass destruction —
have also grown. We are unlikely to see an aggressive US military hegemony in
the world and its passive acceptance by all other nations.


Iran issue brought out the problems with the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Iran was a signatory to the NPT and, as such, had agreed it would not develop
nuclear weapons. The NPT, however, does not prevent any country from building
weapons capability. This is what Iran set out to do. Over the last 18 years, it
has built up an infrastructure for uranium enrichment. As per the original NPT
agreement, Iran could build uranium enrichment facilities and was only prevented
from building the actual weapon. It was also not required to inform the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of these activities, unless they
introduced nuclear material there. Only when it signed the additional safeguards
protocols in February 2003, Iran was obligated to disclose the building of the
nuclear facilities. The two violations that Iran is charged with is that it did
introduce nuclear materials in these facilities without informing IAEA and it
did not inform IAEA of the uranium enrichment plant even after signing the
additional safeguards protocol.



are the facilities that Iran had built? They had built a pilot plant at Natanz,
approximately 250 kilometres from Tehran. This was pilot plant designed to
enrich uranium, using centrifuges and could deliver one small nuclear bomb with
one year’s production. They were also building a larger plant capable of
delivering, if used for the purpose of uranium enrichment, about 15-20 bombs a
year. It is important to note that uranium enrichment is also a legitimate part
of the nuclear power fuel cycle and Iran’s argument has been that they were
building these facilities for their power programme and nuclear capability.


is little doubt that Iran’s uranium enrichment programme had, from the
beginning, this twofold objectives built into it. This allows weapons capability
without officially turning a weapons power. The country then has the option of
walking away from the NPT by giving notice, as prescribed, or bargaining with
others. The Iranians now tacitly admit that they were building weapons
capability. They have now agreed to make their enrichment programme open to IAEA
and under its safeguards. Though the US was initially pushing for sanctions on
Iran, it found very few takers either on the IAEA board or in the UN Security
Council and has been forced to give it up for the time being.


Iran is also making clear that the issue of proliferation can only be solved
through a global approach. Looked at the world through their eyes, they are a
nation of 70 million people and economically a powerful nation. To have a
nuclear Israel, a nation of only three to four million people and dominate West
Asia is obviously not acceptable to them. Perkovitch, an American strategic
analyst admits (
Yale Global,
“A wide range of Iranians resent the perceived arrogance and hegemony of the
US government, loathe the double standard surrounding Israel’s possession of
nuclear weapons and treatment of the Palestinians, fear US control and military
presence in Iraq, and want the deference now accorded to neighbouring nuclear





deputy director general of international political affairs, Ali Asghar Soltanieh,
at the second Moscow International Proliferation Conference, September 18-19,
argued that Israel’s WMD programmes have led to regional instability.
Elaborating further, he said, “According to several reports, Israel has
developed chemical and biological weapons and the ability to weaponise them…
Israel has an extensive nuclear stockpile…[and] long-range ballistic missiles
that can hit any target in the Middle East… It is evident that such
achievement in weapons of mass destruction and missile technology has not been
possible without full technological and financial support, particularly by the
US and its strategic allies in Europe… Stability cannot be achieved in a
region where massive imbalances in military capabilities are maintained,
particularly through the possession of nuclear weapons that allow one party to
threaten its neighbours and the region…. We call for the total and complete
prohibition of the transfer of all nuclear-related equipment, information,
material and facilities, resources or devices, and the extension of assistance
in nuclear-related scientific or technological fields to Israel.”

attempt to impose a long-term non-proliferation regime on others without the
nuclear powers disarming themselves is unlikely to hold indefinitely. It is a
matter of time before nuclear weapons technology will be within the reach of any
nation willing to go this route. The option of not turning is a political
decision that countries will take, based on their perceived security concerns.
Armed interventions by the US or local bullyboys such as Israel will only help
to tip the world into the hotbed of nuclear weapons and make this world an
infinitely more dangerous place. For us, we need to campaign for nuclear
disarmament, both locally and globally. Imperialism may be quite willing to
declare, like Madame Pompidou before the French Revolution, “Après
le deluge” (After me, the deluge). For the rest, our stakes are much higher.
This is the task of the global peace and nuclear disarmament movement. The cold
war may have gone and the immediate threat of a nuclear holocaust may have
receded. The long term danger to the globe remains and will remain as long as
imperialism remains.