Scotian has a thoughtful post about the announcement that Canada will share dual-use nuclear technology with India.
I couldn't agree more that the threat of nuclear war remains real, and that Canada should endorse non-proliferation in some way. But this brings up a real problem, because it's clear that in the cases of India and Pakistan (and Israel, perhaps North Korea, perhaps soon Iran...) the existing policy based upon the NNPT, ultimately failed. And when that’s the case, you have to adjust your policy.
The world lost a degree of relative safety when these nations got their nukes, but we can't just pretend they aren't part of the nuclear club, and continue to treat them like they aren’t. What good will wagging our finger do with the genie already out of the bottle? If they're now a nuclear power – with no real chance of ever turning back - how is it that sharing this technology is so daunting?
I am going to back up a bit; a world with no nukes would, of course, be ideal; and I believe we are surely all doomed once the next one is used on this planet. And I, too, lament that cognizance of the unspeakable danger of having these things around seems to have faded in the public imagination in recent years.
But the realist in me says there will always be nuclear weapons about; that there is no turning back. We can never be entirely rid of the things no matter how much we wish otherwise. And as Gwynne Dyer likes to point out, never in the history of war has a weapon been developed that wasn't eventually used against someone. (That the H-Bomb is over fifty years old is a testament to how lucky we have been so far).
I just don't see this as being all that more alarming a development than the status quo, especially given India's track record with handling dangerous technology.
Someday, somebody somewhere may well accidentally launch one (or several) of these things, at which point it’s very likely game over for the human race. And that could just as easily happen in any of the five original nations at the table – none of whom are about to give up their nukes, and all of whom enjoy a preposterous double-standard under the NNPT in having got theirs first. We may as well call it the Nanny-Nanny Boo-Boo Treaty.
It was a good idea at the time, but it’s no longer valid, which makes it an awful framework to build our national policy on going forward. A better idea would be to build a new policy, but still based on reducing the overall number of nuclear weapons out there. We at least need something that reflects a more up-to-date balance of world power than existed immediately after WWII, which is why I believe this agreement with India may actually be a step in the right direction.
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