Nuclear specter

The publication in the Los Angeles Times of a secret Pentagon report, portions of which were released to the American Congress two months ago, according to which the United States is developing new nuclear weapons for striking – if necessary – targets in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya and North Korea as well as China and Russia have caused Europe, the Arab states and the rest of the world serious concern. Humanity had hoped that although it did not create a more stable world, the end of the Cold War had at least eliminated the nightmare of a nuclear war. Everyone believed that this threat had eclipsed even though the various scenarios about a nuclear clash between the USA and the other major nuclear powers, Russia and China, persisted. Unfortunately, the revelation that the Bush administration is examining, in theory at least, the prospect of deploying nuclear arms not only against non-nuclear powers such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea but also against countries which do not possess weapons of mass destruction, such as Syria and Libya, has dashed these hopes. We are faced with a radically new American military approach to the use of nuclear weapons. The development of new nuclear arms designed for potential use against the aforementioned targets marks the dawn of a new era where the possibility of some sort of nuclear warfare is much more likely, as it has been legitimized for a far lower level of conflict than that of the total war in the days of the USA-USSR confrontation. It is needless to stress that should such attitudes prevail, even after an American initiative, it would not be limited to US policy. Many countries will be ready to follow the US example. Moreover, given that we are primarily referring to countries with poor monitoring mechanisms over government decision-making, the threat of the use of nuclear munitions in local crises will be even greater. For should a crisis break out, who can guarantee that India and Pakistan will not be tempted to settle their differences using nuclear weapons, or that Russia and China will not be tempted to do the same thing with Chechnya and Taiwan respectively? These turbulent times favor the development of extreme views. Wise leaders should curb such views. Above all, the European leaders ought to do their best to reverse the course toward havoc.

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