Sunday, March 15

The 62 year old dream

Reading this piece by Einstein makes me think of how even the greatest minds are not immune to the utopian idea of a world government and peaceful no-war existence. The indirect originator of nuclear weapons, urges the United States to adopt a policy of outlawing them before any other country acquires the capability. He like many others during the period argue for a supranational control of the atomic weapons/technology, which might be a safer bet than an arms race. Considering that Cold War did not result in actual war but saw significant proliferation of nuclear weapons, makes it seem plausible retrospectively in terms of non-proliferation, but nevertheless an utopian dream. As Einstein himself points out the problems with getting the Soviet Union on board with a world government, so would it have been with supranational control of atomic weapons. The closest the world got to it was Euratom and perhaps even the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Even today supranational control of fissile material is talked of as an ideal to be achieved. Something that would reduce proliferation and the danger of a nuclear war or nukes falling in terrorist hands, and save the NPT regime. The creation of an 'international fuel bank' particularly with reference to curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions is seen as a compromise solution. While I think that having an international fuel bank is a good idea to meet the energy needs without risking nuclear weapon proliferation, I don't think the political will and diplomatic skill exists to make it happen. Issues of sovereignty, impartial and/or equal control of the fuel bank, equitable distribution of fuel are but some of the things that come to mind immediately. What happens to the fuel that countries produce or own individually? Does it automatically become a part of the fuel bank? Since it is a lucrative business with long-term potential, should uranium and fuel be regarded as any other raw material and finished product in the market? If not, why not?

The idea that Einstein hopes for, and many others since continue to hope for need not be an utopian ideal to be achieved in a perfect world. We have come so far in our quest for nuclear weapons and technology (even if only for peaceful purposes) that we need it to happen soon. It is becoming difficult to argue that the current setup has worked well and averted a nuclear war so far, and will continue to do so in the future too. Technology and players may have changed, but the world is no less immune than it was on August 6, 1945.

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