Reasons to Oppose Star Wars, #5: Star Wars Will Destroy Chances For the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Governments of the world have been making significant progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons through diplomacy and multilateral negotiations.

Feature story - May 15, 2003
The Bush Administration's determination to build missile defense in spite of treaty obligations will shatter that progress, as well as undermine the international rule of law, which is critical to a wide range of U.S. interests.

Treaties such as the ABM Treaty, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Start I and II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) have all been important steps toward the reduction of nuclear dangers and the ultimate elimination of these weapons. This work is far from finished however, as there are still almost 36,000 nuclear weapons in the world, thousands on hair-trigger alert, ready to launch on a moment's notice - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Bush Administration has already stated that it does not want the U.S. to ratify the CTBT, and now President Bush is talking about the ABM Treaty as a relic that must be scrapped. Such actions will only encourage other countries to acquire missile technology and weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. had agreed to ratify the CTBT during negotiations in 1997 as an inducement for other countries to agree to the indefinite extension of the NPT. If the U.S. reneges on that promise, other countries are likely to renege on their promise not to develop or acquire nuclear weapons.

The Bush Administration has also announced that it will not abide by the Kyoto environmental protocols signed by the U.S. in 1998. Such a shortsighted policy of selective adherence to international law and treaty obligations will effect far more than the elimination of nuclear weapons.

The U.S. depends on other countries around the world to assist in the pursuit of a wide range of interests, including transportation, trade, patents, drugs, narco-traffiking and other international criminal activity. If the U.S. undermines the rule of law when it is convenient for the current Administration, other countries will follow suit when it is convenient for them. If the U.S. demonstrates that it does not comply with its treaty obligations in good faith, why should other countries enter into negotiations of any kind with the United States?

If the rule of international law fails as a result of the Bush Administration's actions, it is the U.S. that will be the biggest loser in the long run.