A Nuclear Family

I’m glad that Iran has agreed to return to nuclear talks, but it’s not going to work. We will never be able to successfully negotiate with Iran, or any other aspiring nuclear power because, on the issue of nuclear weapons, we are hypocrites. Non-nuclear countries will always think: you have nuclear weapons, why shouldn’t we? They are right. To take the position that the United States is somehow more deserving of a nuclear arsenal than another nation is to claim a superiority that is as condescending as it is false. The fact is: nuclear weapons are too dangerous for any nation to have; no nation is deserving of the “privilege” to destroy the world. If we truly want to avoid a nuclear holocaust, we must lead by example and destroy our own nuclear weapons. All of them.

Henry Moore's "Nuclear Energy" via Mary Warren
Henry Moore’s “Nuclear Energy” via Mary Warren.

What I propose is that every existing nuclear power invest in one nuclear weapons repository in a neutral location (perhaps Antarctica?) where all of the planet’s nuclear weapons will be housed. By “all of the planet’s nuclear weapons” I do not mean every weapon currently in existence; there are far too many weapons already, and 98% of them should be destroyed. Rather, I mean that there would be no weapons on earth, other than what would be contained in this repository.

The member states that would oversee this repository would include any nation that currently has nuclear weapons capability. The rules for firing a weapon from this repository would be these: 1) no weapon can be fired without majority agreement by the member states and, 2) under no circumstances can a weapon be fired at any terrestrial address. The sole purpose of this repository would be to address common, extraterrestrial threats, such as the impending impact of an asteroid. No weapon in this facility would ever be allowed to be used against humanity.

Concomitant with the agreement of all existing nuclear nations to invest in this shared repository, there must also be an agreement to prevent any additional nations from developing nuclear weapons. If any nation, including any member nation, is found to be developing a nuclear weapon of its own, the other nations must agree to act, militarily if necessary, against that nation.

An uneasy peace purchased at the threat of mutual annihilation is no legacy to pass on to our children. Like the boy in Akira Kurosawa’s short film from Dreams called Sunshine Through the Rain, we have learned too late that the very pursuit of this knowledge has possibly doomed us, but the line has been crossed and now “[w]e must somehow find a silken cord to control this beast” [pdf].

If all other nations agree to the complete destruction of their personal stockpile of nuclear weapons, so should the United States. By this agreement, the nuclear burden will finally rest where it belongs: as the shared responsibility of all humankind.

Related:

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour Party Leader, Says He’d Never Use Nuclear Weapons (New York Times, Sept. 30, 2015)

Donald Trump, Perhaps Unwittingly, Exposes Paradox of Nuclear Arms (New York Times, Aug. 3, 2016)

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