Nuclear talks: One more chance to save the world, By Ameen Izzadeen

Organised hypocrisy is relatively a new concept that is being studied by sociologists and political scientists. Nowhere is organised hypocrisy more visible than in international relations where states blatantly violate the very norms that they claim to be following in conformity with civilized behaviour.

Sociologists and political scientists are never short of examples to prove that organised hypocrisy exists and is being practised by almost all states — and also by most international organisations, including the United Nations. The UN charter seeks to uphold moral principles and noble ideals to promote and preserve world peace and ensure socio-economic and political security of individuals and nations. Yet, in reality, the world body suffers from an absence of democracy and, as a result, has become a tool in the hands of a powerful coterie of nations. Often its actions serve the political interests of the United States, which has been the most powerful nation on earth ever since the UN was set up.

The UN's lack of independence or its superpower bias has brought misery to millions of people around the world. A case in point was the imposition of UN sanctions on Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. The sanctions led to the deaths of more than one million Iraqis, including half a million children.

Organised hypocrisy virtually extends to all fields of state activity in the international arena. A state's actions may appear to be noble. But in reality a state acts nobly only when it feels it can achieve its selfish interests through its noble acts. In other words, even idealistic or moralistic politics is self-centred.

This is evident even at the current talks at the United Nations in New York to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with most participating nations thinking selfishly rather than taking a united stand for total nuclear disarmament.

The P5 or permanent members of the UN Security Council are participating at the conference with the intention of maintaining a global nuclear monopoly among them. Instead of total nuclear disarmament, the P5 members focus on measures aimed at non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. By adopting such a policy, they have successfully diverted the attention of global civil society away from their huge nuclear arsenals. The United States has some 10,000 nuclear warheads — with each of these warheads capable of causing a devastation that is several hundred times more intense than Hiroshima, where some 200,000 Japanese died as a result of history's first nuclear attack carried out by the US on August 6, 1945. Russia also has a similar number of nuclear weapons or more.

The New York talks essentially seek to legitimize the current nuclear world order where, in theory, only the P5 — the US, Russia, France. Britain and China — will continue to enjoy legitimacy to possess nuclear weapons. This world order tolerates India and Israel as nuclear powers, but it entertains fears about the nuclear weapons of Pakistan and North Korea. Though both Israel and India have not signed the NPT, they have received assistance from P5 nations. Israel is said to have received help from the US and France to make its bomb, while India has signed agreements with the US to get expertise and material for its civilian nuclear plants. Pakistan, like India, has also not signed the NPT but it is treated differently. The west-defined world nuclear order fears the possibility of weapons technology being transferred from Pakistan to "rogue states" — as happened in the A.Q. Khan case. It also fears that radical elements could take control of Pakistan's military or the command and control structure of the nuclear weapons programme.

The world nuclear order is also not comfortable with the nuclear weapons of North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and Iran's nuclear programme. Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the only head of state to address the review conference this week, defended his country's right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy as an NPT member and lambasted the West for its attempts to curtail developing nations' access to peaceful nuclear technology.

However, the world nuclear order treats Israel's nuclear programme as a holy cow.

Israel possesses some 200-300 nuclear warheads, according to analysts. Moves by some Non-Aligned countries in the past to get the UN or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to open a file for Israel had fallen by the wayside, largely because of US opposition. It was another example of organized hypocrisy.

But Washington is finding itself increasingly being isolated with regard to Israel's nuclear weapons. Other P5 members, US allies such as Turkey, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and the Non-Aligned bloc question the lopsidedness of the US policy that defends Israel's nuclear weapons while warning Iran of extreme measures if it does not give up its nuclear programme.

With the US unable to provide a decent answer to these questions, an Egyptian proposal to force Israel to sign the NPT and bring its nuclear programme under IAEA inspection has made some headway at the ongoing talks in New York. The move has put US President Barack Obama in a dilemma. On the one hand he is under pressure from the Zionist lobby not to violate Israel's sacred rights to nuclear weapons. On the other, it was only a few weeks ago that he reiterated his commitment to global nuclear disarmament.

On Wednesday, the US along with other major powers endorsed the proposal which Egypt submitted as the head of the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement. The proposal calls on NPT nations to implement a resolution adopted at the 1995 review conference to declare the Middle East a nuclear free zone. But the US did not give voice to its support for the proposal. It was left to the Russian delegate Anatoly Antonov who spoke on behalf of the P5. He said the P5 members were committed to the full implementation of the Egyptian proposal which seeks a Middle East nuclear free zone as early as next year.

The P5 endorsement came as IAEA chief Yukiya Amano asked delegates at the conference for ideas on how to persuade Israel to sign the NPT.

The Zionist lobby and the neocons in America are furious over the US endorsement of the proposal. John Bolton, a hardcore neocon and former US ambassador to the UN pointed out that the Egyptian proposal was aimed at Israel.

"When I was in the Bush administration we refused to even talk about these kinds of ideas," he said in an interview with Israel's Army radio.

"The president is not happy with Israel's nuclear capabilities. I think he would be delighted if Israel gave up its nuclear weapons. The only unknown answer at this point is exactly how much pressure he would exert on Israel to do just that. Part of that pressure is being exerted right now, by even considering the possibility of a conference on a nuclear-weapons-free Middle East," Bolton said.

The NPT review conference is unlikely to reach a historic accord when it winds up its deliberations on May 28. At the end of the conference, the status quo will be endorsed with rhetoric being thrown in for good measure. All the nuclear powers will continue to have nuclear weapons and there is unlikely to be any commitment from them for a nuclear weapons-free world. Nuclear weapons give power to a state. Besides, rivalry between states promotes nuclear proliferation. Certainly, a superpower with an agenda to dominate the world needs them. Therefore, those who dream of a nuclear weapons free world are living in a fool's paradise. Perhaps, there is only one way to nuclear disarmament. That could come when nature takes its revenge on these weapons in the form of a violent quake in a nuclear stockpile area. Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl have not taught us a lesson. Should we wait till nature turns against us?

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