To the best of my knowledge from information gleaned from internet data sources, there are three countries that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They are India, Pakistan and Israel. One additional country -- North Korea -- withdrew in 2003 after being a signatory for 18 years.
Iran signed in 1968 and ratified the treaty in 1970. In light of their alleged insistence on starting a nuclear weapons program, some might say that the treaty is a joke. I'd agree to the farcical nature of the document, but not because of Iran's actions -- although hat's off to the North Koreans for withdrawing publicly in the face of being labeled by George W. Bush as members of the Axis of Evil.
No, this week's big Washington Post story about the U.S. revamping their nuclear weapons is reason enough to scoff at the legitimacy of the NPT. And it's not just the nuclear weapons program that the U.S. is improving; it's the bombs. The Washington Post confirms, "At the heart of the overhaul are the weapons themselves." And this revamp won't be cheap. "Upgrading just one of the seven types of weapons in the stockpile, the B61 bomb, is likely to cost $10 billion over five years, according to the Pentagon."
But wasting money on weapons when the U.S. is reeling from overwhelming debt and consequently slashing assistance to the needy isn't the only reason to question this enormous expenditure. The big looming unknown is the value of U.S. ink on paper.
Here's what we pledged in 1968 and our Senate ratified in 1970, according the U.S. State Department, "countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament; countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them; and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy."
How can the upgrade of the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal -- to make it more effective and assure its deadliness -- possibly be a move "towards disarmament?"
According to the Washington Post, part of the pending stockpile problem is that each of the last three presidential administrations had cut the U.S. inventory by 40 to 50 percent during their time in office. Additionally the aging infrastructure has contributed to a decline in the U.S. ability to launch from sea, land and air. That sounds like the U.S. has reduced its ability to wage nuclear war, which was exactly what the country promised to do when signing the NPT in the first place.
Full scale nuclear war -- which the U.S. and the Russians are still more than capable of launching -- would leave the planet uninhabitable by human beings. Clearly, the intent of the NPT is to avoid such worldwide destruction as well as to avoid the sort of "small scale" destruction which occured in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
But because I spend most of my time writing about poverty this plan by the U.S. to invest an estimated $352 billion dollars making nuclear war more likely -- in direct violation of a treaty we have signed to the contrary -- I insist we recall the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
And on that "cross of iron" tens of thousands of children die each day.
According to the World Hunger Education Service 925 million people in the world went hungry in 2010. I use worldwide statistics because nuclear war has a worldwide impact. Doing a little quick math, each hungry person in the world could have more than $380 for food -- all 925 million of them -- for what the U.S. alone will spend on upgrading its nuclear arsenal.
But those are only hungry people. What sort of investment could be made on behalf of those children dying of starvation? The United Nations puts that number at 18,000 per day. 18,000 kids dying of hunger each day! That means about six and a half million children die of starvation each year. If the U.S. spent the $352 billion on them, we could spend about $53,576 per kid and obey the terms of a treaty we signed more than 40 years ago.
Follow Pat LaMarche on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PatHLaMarche