Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Current World Situation

3 11 2006

This was a topic I was invited to talk last week on October 31st at the forum organised by the Thai Australain Association (Under the Patronage of H.R.H the Crown Prince), the Social Science Association of Thailand and Institute of Future Studies or in short TAA Forum, SSAT Forum and IFD.

I have double surprises for this forum. First, why many Thais are interested on the issue of nuclear proliferation. This is not to mention that about four days prior to my talk the front page of leading local newspaper (Daily News, 28th October 2006) reported about Thailand’s nuclear capability that our country are listed as nuclear capable state by the chairman of International Atomic Energy Agency or in short IAEA. Second, most participants are women who I heard are very interested on the topic.

Although it is quite difficult to give a definition of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in Thai, i have defined it as a treaty that stop the further spread of nuclear weapons to nations that do not have such capaibilities. The treaty has been opposed by many countries especially India who said that this treaty is a discrimination of the haves against the have nots. This means only the five countries who possessed nuclear weapons up until 1967 can have nuclear weapons and other countries can not. The weakness appears to be that a few nuclear capable are not signatories namely India, Pakistan, and Israel. North Korea’s withdrawal (as allow by Article X of the treaty) has damaged the treaty further as it may prompt a few nuclear threshold states to develop their nuclear weapons. The inspection by the IAEA is conditioned by the treaty but the failure of the IAEA to find nuclear weapons in Iraq and Iran showed that they are not credible. The additional protocol to expand its range to inspect illicit activities in wider areas has not been accepted widely. This implies that there may be many countries who want to retain their nuclear option. Domestic pleasure plays a role when it concerns national security. There is a limit to external influence.

Most questions centred on recent case of North Korea and Iran. The nuclear test on October 9, 2006 made North Korea a nuclear power and this would contribute to the change in the nature of the six-party talk. Will this promot South Korea and Japan to consider their nuclear options instead of reliance on the US’s military might. The recent test depite the Chinese’s persuation not to do so showed the limitation of the Chinese influence in North Asia. However, to destablise the North Korean regime further either by the military intervention by the US or even China would create more problem for both China and South Korea, taking into consideration the influx of refugee. Unless and until the US has softened its tone and stance in dealing with North Korea, they will not agree to resume the talk. True to form, North Korea leader stated early this week that it would return to the negotiating table if the US lifted th financial sanctions in the bank in Macau. The change in the US posture and stance will lead to the change in the North Asian security environment…

Iran is watching the measure taken against North Korea very closely and there is a chance that it will go nuclear in the near future unless North Korea is forced to give up its nuclear weapons, no matter how small they are and how many they possess. The US may intervene militarily but then what is after that…what can we blame? The inspection system, the treaty or the inspiration of that country? How many countries will go nuclear after the North Korean test is a concern we should be anticipating. Nuclear deterrent worked during the East-West Cold War but will it work in the global system in the post-Cold War?



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