In the eyes of most Americans, the Cold War ended in 1991 and subsequently, so did the mass arms race that came with it. Unfortunately, this hardly seems to be the case. Today, a nuclear arms race is still in existence, and this time, the major players involve the United States, Iran and North Korea.
The Group of Eight (United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Italy, Japan, Germany, France and Canada) has conveyed its growing concern for North Korea and Iran’s secretive manners in regards to their nuclear weapon programs.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty began in the ’60s and was implemented as a way to promote peaceful resolutions and stop the increase in nuclear weapons worldwide. North Korea was originally a part of the NPT but withdrew from it in 2003. Then, in March of this year, North Korea announced that it would launch a long-range rocket. The G8 believed that this was a missile testing and not, as North Korea claimed, an Earth satellite being launched to commemorate the deceased Kim II-Sung’s 100th birthday. Ignoring the G8’s warnings over the missile launch, Pyongyang went forward with its plans, although the launch did fail. This act of rebellion led to the U.S. stopping food aid to North Korea, and conditions between the two countries have been considerably cold since.
Then, there is Iran, which signed the NPT in 1968. However, with Iran’s history of funding terrorists and longstanding animosity toward neighboring countries, the G8 has been closely monitoring the volatile region. Additionally, the International Atomic Energy Agency has noted that Iran refuses to an inspection of their nuclear weapons and would not disclose details about their program, including their plans for uranium enrichment.
With tensions rising within the last few months, the G8 has turned to the United Nations Security Council to help them diffuse and resolve this increasingly precarious situation. North Korea continues to receive no aid from the U.S., and Iran currently faces severe financial sanctions if it does not cooperate with the G8 and abide by the NPT. However, politicians have yet to come to agreement with each other when it comes to how the situation should be resolved. In a statement, President Barack Obama said that the G8 was “firmly committed to continuing with the approach of sanctions and pressure, in combination with diplomatic discussions.” Meanwhile, Mitt Romney said that it should be “communicated to Iran that we are prepared, that we are considering military options." As for the members of Congress, most are in favor of continuing negotiations with Iran and North Korea — but, ultimately, they want to put an end to their nuclear weapons programs.
Nonetheless, the most compelling argument I have heard did not come from a White House politician or foreign diplomat. Instead, it came from Gen. James Cartwright, a four-star Marine general. He proposed that the U.S. cut its nuclear weapons by 80 percent and, by doing so, set an example for other countries that are also a part of the NPT. The G8 needs to realize that countries, including their own, are vulnerable because of man’s innate desire to preserve power and hold on to influence. Thus, as the major economic and social leaders of the world, the G8 needs to step up and be the first to show that they are willing to compromise.
With more than 25,000 nuclear warheads worldwide, it hardly seems necessary to hold on to enough arsenal to blow up the world several times. The U.S. (as well as the other G8 countries), Iran and North Korea have to get over their need to constantly compensate with nuclear weapons. World leaders today are too stubborn or threatened to come to a rational conclusion like logical grown adults. Take away all the extraneous details and the G8 will see this volatile situation for what it has really become: a battle of egos with nuclear weapons between politicians.