Letter to the Editor(1)

Dear Editor:I have enjoyed the exchanges over arms control with Mr.

Dear Editor:

I have enjoyed the exchanges over arms control with Mr. Carson of CSIS and hope to bring to a close our current debate with this letter. His letter of in the October 15 issue of In The National Interest repeats in the very first paragraph the rhetorical mistakes and illusions that have so bedeviled arms control agreements such as the NPT.

First, I am not against arms control. That is not even in question, and I wrote my original piece not against arms control but in favor of a broader, more energetic counter-proliferation effort, particularly as outlined by President Bush in his speech to the National Defense University in May 2001.

Second, as with so many myths, the President's policy is hardly unilateral. To claim, as Carson does repeatedly, that the current administration seeks only to go its own way is simply balderdash. Has the administration achieved unanimity? No, of course it hasn't, and few if any arms control efforts ever will. After all, if Iran and North Korea wanted to get rid of their own weapons as much as others in the world community wanted them to, there would be little problem.

The Bush Administration is also not the first to avoid existing international institutions.  In Kosovo, the Clinton Administration deliberately skirted the UN at the request of that famed multilateralist, President Chirac. The Reagan Administration deployed INF missiles in Europe, despite widespread opposition in the UN. The deployment led to the INF Treaty and, very possibly, was one of the key ingredients to the end of the Cold War.  Conversely, the UN endorsed the deployment of forces in Somalia and Haiti, and we know how well that turned out.

Yes, as Carson argues, there are political benefits to agreements where everyone agrees on the means, methods and outcomes. For example, agreeing to ban weapons of mass destruction being based on the moon. That has long been a treaty. But with North Korea and Iran, we have two nations run by dictatorships who desire the unification of the Korean peninsula by force and the destruction of Israel, respectively. The Iranian leadership has made no effort to hide its willingness to drop nuclear weapons on Israel to kill as many Jews as possible. The North kills millions of its own people with hardly a care.  Does anyone think they pause before killing millions more in Seoul, Tokyo or Los Angeles?

Assuming such states are a "willing adversary" - one ready to bargain and eliminate the threats they pose to neighbors - is what led Neville Chamberlain to Munich and former President Jimmy Carter to Pyongyang.  Disaster awaits such assumption.  How then do we confront such evil? Patrick Clawson of the Middle East Institute, in a October 22 Policy Watch, and participants in the Nixon Center's recent forum on Iran both got to the nub of the issue.

Both concluded that, first, Iran is legally allowed to obtain modern technologies that can be used to create nuclear weapons by alternative means.  Thus, if the Mullahs intend to keep the entire fuel cycle - it is clear that they do - Iran's program is beyond the purview of the NPT and the Additional Protocol.

Second, while Iran has agreed to suspend reprocessing, no reprocessing facility has yet been built, making such a pledge of no practical value, but helpful in "winning the news cycle". Clawson correctly notes that at best the deal sets things back to January 2003, but leaving unresolved all of the concerns over Iran's nuclear program up to that point.

Third, and finally, the grave danger is that, in the words of London's Financial Times, Iran is simply "throwing sand in the IAEA's eyes to blind the world to its bomb-ambitions." The assertion in my September 10th editorial that initiated this discussion was the fallacy of protecting ourselves with arms control, with "peace through paper", from rogue regimes and madmen intent on destroying us. Whether the tools we can assemble to do the job number one, twelve or twenty, I remain convinced that only the will to protect our security, including the use of military force, is sufficient to fulfill our constitutional obligations to "provide for the common defense".


Peter Huessy

National Defense University Foundation