Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Simon Jenkins on the Bomb and North Korea

A nuclear bomb is a bizarre weapon, so awful as to have been used in only two attacks, in 1945. Since then, its owners have thankfully rendered it irrelevant by disuse, but in doing so have deprived it of deterrent effect. Britain's bomb did not deter Argentina from invading the Falklands, nor was America's massive arsenal a deterrent in Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia or Iraq. Possessing such bombs is largely a matter of status.

The operative word is largely. When nuclear missiles were brandished by the Soviet Union, the west lived in an understandable state of terror. That Russia and China have abandoned their goal of communist imperialism is an immense relief. Inducing that abandonment was the objective of the cold war policy of "containment and engagement", and it worked. The thesis of Tony Blair and John Reid that Britain is currently more at risk than since Hitler is ludicrous (and a poor comment on MI6 briefing).

For all the science fiction hokum surrounding "suitcase bombs" and "terrorist WMDs", building and delivering a nuclear bomb is a massive industrial and military exercise requiring the concerted energy of a nation-state. So-called dirty bombs, or biological and chemical weapons, should never be put in the same category. They are nothing like as dangerous and have proved ineffective. What is more alarming is that North Korea appears to possess both the wherewithal to build a working bomb and the long-range missiles to deliver it. Kim Jong-il is acquiring effective nuclear capability.

Great points, all. You can read the entire article here.


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