When Bill Clinton became President, there were five acknowledged nuke-armed states the United States, United Kingdom, France, China and Russia. Back in in the late 1960s those five states had persuaded about 150 other states that didnt have nukes to become signatories to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The NPT was viewed then and now by those other states as having three "pillars"
- a promise by the NPT nuke-states to eventually dispose of nukes
- an affirmation of the inalienable right of all other NPT states to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy "without discrimination"
- a mechanism for verifying that nuclear energy was not being diverted from peaceful to military purposes.
The NPT required those signatories not yet having nukes to negotiate a Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency an existing United Nations agency already charged with facilitating the widest possible international transfer of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes for the "exclusive purpose" of "verifying" that certain proscribed materials were not "diverted" to a military purpose.
With the Cold War over, Clinton accelerated the nuke dismantlement process begun by his predecessor.
Clinton also attempted to get the Indians and Pakistanis to become signatories to the NPT and to get every NPT signatory to agree to its indefinite extension.
Well, Clinton told them that if everyone signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty then without testing there could be no new nuke states and that eventually without testing the five acknowledged nuke states would effectively be disarmed.
Furthermore, in 1995 Clinton got the Security Council to pass UNSC Resolution 984 which, inter alia, formally expressed the "intention" of the nuke states to "provide or support immediate assistance" to any non-nuke NPT signatory that is "a victim" of an act or a threat of an act of aggression "in which nuclear weapons are used."
Clinton was, thereby, able to get NPT signatories to agree in 1995 on the indefinite extension of the NPT.
But, Clinton did not get the Senate to ratify the CTBT, nor get the Indians and Pakistanis to become NPT signatories. In fact, in the spring of 1998 both India and Pakistan conducted multiple tests of nuclear weapons, thereby increasing the number of acknowledged nuke states to seven.
Upon becoming president, under our Constitution, George Bush was bound by those commitments ratified by the Senate to "facilitate" the widest possible transfer of nuclear materials, equipment and technology to no-nuke NPT signatories and to come to their "immediate assistance" in the event someone threatened them with nukes.
Hence, if the Bush-Cheney regime-change coalition wanted to renege on our commitments to help Iran establish a complete nuclear fuel cycle, or wanted to provide Russia some excuse for not coming to Irans assistance in the event the Bush-Cheney regime-change coalition nuked or threatened to nuke Iran, it would be necessary to somehow get Iran to withdraw from the NPT.
Well, Bush-Cheney-Bolton-Rice did their best, but failed, miserably.
In fact, Iran is now generally acknowledged by the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, the Non-Aligned Movements Ministers, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference to be a principal defender of the NPT, at the 2005 NPT Review Conference, and in pleadings made before the UN Security Council and at quarterly meetings of the IAEA Board of Governors.
Who is generally acknowledged to be the principal enemy of the NPT and the associated IAEA and Nuclear Suppliers Group nuke proliferation-prevention regime? We are, especially since Bush became president.
Well, as of this writing, Bush has not actually "taken out" Irans IAEA Safeguarded programs. In any case, the Russians and/or Chinese would not be required to come to Irans immediate assistance unless Bush nukes or threatens to nuke Iran.
But what about Bushs potential successors?
At a recent "debate," moderator Wolf Blitzer asked the GOP candidates "If it came down to a preemptive U.S. strike against Irans nuclear facility, if necessary would you authorize as president the use of tactical nuclear weapons?"
Notice that Blitzer asked about a preemptive strike against Irans [Safeguarded] "nuclear facility."
Representative Duncan Hunter replied "I would authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons if there was no other way to preempt those particular centrifuges."
Notice Hunter threatened to nuke an IAEA Safeguarded facility.
So, if Hunter succeeds Bush, the Russians and Chinese had better put their ICBMs on "red alert."
Blitzer phrased the question somewhat differently to other GOP candidates. In particular he asked Governor Mitt Romney "I want to get you on the record. Do you agree with the mayor, the governor, others here, that the use of tactical nuclear weapons, potentially, would be possible if that were the only way to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb?"
Notice that is a doubly hypothetical question. There is no evidence whatsoever that Iran is developing a "nuclear bomb." Hence, there can be no way of determining that the only way to stop whatever it is theyre not doing is to nuke them.
So, how did Romney answer the doubly hypothetical question?
Quoth Romney, "You dont take options off the table."
But the Constitution requires the "law of the land" requires that so long as the IAEA continues to ‘verify" that no Iranian Safeguarded materials have been diverted to a military purpose, the option of nuking or threatening to nuke Iran must be taken off the table.
Representative Ron Paul as you might have expected went even farther. When asked by Blitzer what the most pressing moral issue in America is right now, Paul replied;
"I think it is the acceptance just recently that we now promote preemptive war. I do not believe thats part of the American tradition.
"But now we have accepted the principle of preemptive war. We have rejected the "just war" theory of Christianity."
"And now, tonight, we hear that were not even willing to remove from the table a preemptive nuclear strike against a country that has done no harm to us directly and is no threat to our national security!"
On the basis of his recent comments, it appears Senator Barack Obama may have may have reached a similar conclusion.