During the first half-century of the nuclear weapons era, the world was remarkably responsible in controlling nuclear weapons. There are only eight nuclear weapons states today. Five large and powerful ones are permanent members of the United Nations ...
In coming months President TrumpDonald John TrumpPruitt dined with Cardinal accused of sexual abuse: report Kelly: No consideration on leaving White House despite 'times of great frustration' Kelly: Trump 'embarrassed' by Russia probe MORE faces two major decisions that will shape our world’s future.
Over the past 20 years, the last four presidents failed to stop the nuclear ambitions of two rogue states, North Korea and Iran. This has set the world on a course to disaster. Here’s what happened, and where we’re headed.
During the first half-century of the nuclear weapons era, the world was remarkably responsible in controlling nuclear weapons. There are only eight nuclear weapons states today. Five large and powerful ones are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Two of the other three have behaved quite acceptably. The 46-year Cold War, featuring tens of thousands of nukes poised for instant launch, ended peaceably.
But in recent years, the world failed to understand the obvious truth that nonproliferation requires enforcement. As the two irresponsible and belligerent states pursued nukes relentlessly, the world never went beyond diplomacy, sanctions, and hand-wringing. And year after year, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama failed to step up to their nonproliferation responsibilities and use military force.
If this condition continues, the world will descend into nuclear horror and chaos. Here’s how it will happen.
Within a year North Korea will manage to produce a few weaponized nukes and will sell them to anyone with money. Kim Jong Un will rapidly ramp up production, servicing aggressors, failed and failing states, terrorist groups of all types, states undergoing civil war, criminals, extortionists, anyone with a jihad or a grudge. In response, nuclear proliferation will sweep across South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and southward.
As soon as it is able, Iran — the other rogue state and the world’s top supporter of terrorism — will go into the production of nuclear weapons. They will provide them to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and others. Nuclear proliferation will spread like wildfire in the Mideast, starting with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.
Those who receive these nuclear weapons from North Korea and Iran will use them immediately, and go back for more. The number of ruined, radioactive, deserted cities dotting the globe will grow. It will be clear to every state that their only safety lies in having nuclear weapons for protection, and nuclear proliferation will race across the globe. By 2030, twenty or more of the technologically advanced states will have them. By 2040, it will be thirty, as our allies, who formerly relied on our nuclear umbrella for protection, will opt for their own nukes. By mid-century the count will be 40 as developing states, which today are building nuclear reactors, go nuclear. And that’s just the beginning.
Soon, nukes will be everywhere, uncounted, unprotected, and used. They will be readily available, and they’ll become weapon of choice, replacing high explosives and assault rifles. There is no way back from this world.
Fortunately, President Trump has one last chance to avoid this tragic course for our world: He must force North Korea and Iran to totally dismantle all their nuclear weapons facilities, immediately.
In his forthcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un, he must stake out a non-negotiable U.S. position: (1) hand over to the U.S. — this week — all nuclear weapons and devices, and all fissile material; (2) provide immediate and continuing U.S. access to all nuclear facilities (research centers, labs, production and testing facilities, and storage sites), with total dismantlement starting next week; (3) similar U.S. access to and dismantlement of all military nuclear sites; (4) simultaneous dismantlement of all ballistic missile research, production, testing, storage, and launch sites; and (5) permanent international inspection and verification.
Kim has promised denuclearization; and, given his family’s decades of dishonesty, deception and lying, these are the U.S. terms. If they are not acceptable, we will commence military dismantlement immediately
Once the North Korean situation is resolved, the U.S. should require the same total nuclear dismantlement from Iran. When Iran declines, as an initial element of the negotiation process, we should completely demolish the Natanz Uranium Enrichment Site. Continue with carrot and stick until we succeed.
With North Korea and Iran removed as nuclear proliferators, we are back to eight nuclear weapons states, no serious proliferators in sight, and an established track record for enforcing nonproliferation. American diplomacy should then be able to lead the world to an effective way of coexisting comfortably with nuclear weapons for the long term.
The world’s future course clearly depends upon President Trump’s two decisions.
Robert R. Monroe, vice admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.), is former director of the Defense Nuclear Agency.
Robert Monroe,Donald Trump,