Combatting Nuclear Proliferation

One way for an aspiring power to avoid the hard work of building a formidable economic base upon which to base future military power is to acquire nuclear weapons. Although not easy, this constitutes a fairly cheap way to become a major regional, if not a global, power in spite of one’s pygmy status in the global economy. The Soviet economy in the late forties, ravaged by World War II, was dwarfed by the US economy and challenged by a rebounding Western Europe; but the Soviet Union still managed to test an atomic weapon in 1949, thus securing its status as America’s only rival. Likewise Iran today, with an economy the size of Austria’s and Saudi Arabia’s, and not much more than one-tenth the size of China’s, may soon catapult itself into the club of nuclear nations. Engineers at Ben-Gurion University in Israel have developed a technique for rendering plutonium unsuitable for making nuclear weapons. As a result of this breakthrough, the world’s nuclear fuel producers – the US, Russia, Germany, France and Japan – could ensure that any future buyers would receive “declawed” nuclear fuel, only usable for peaceful purposes. While this would not stop Iran, which is well on its way to having the fuel for a weapon, it would prevent other economic pygmies aspiring to great power status from utilizing this short cut. And by stymieing nuclear weapons proliferation, it could make the world a safer place. Read the article here.

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