Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Loose nukes

I try to ignore Andrew Sullivan, you know I do. But every now and then my resolve breaks, especially when he displays an especially egregious example of something all bloggers are guilty of: having no clue what you're talking about:
But what is serious is that Dean seems to think that we can prevent proliferation by buying the stuff from North Korea, Russia, or whoever. But what's to stop rogue nuke states selling to Iran and to us? Is Dean that naive? And isn't it true that the real source of Iran's nuclear material has recently been Pakistan anyway? My bottom line: I don't care if a presidential candidate commits a gaffe in foreign policy. I do care that his instinct is to buy off enemies, rather than confront them; and that he's not on the ball about where the real threats are coming from.

The U.S.-Russia Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Purchase Agreement has been in effect for nearly a decade.
We're buying 500 tons of Russian uranium over the span of the agreement, and blending it into low-grade stuff so it can be used as fuel or something.

While the program has been plagued by problems with price negotiations and delivery timelines, it is rightfully lauded as one of the most inventive and successful non-proliferation programs around. It reduces threat while pumping money back into Russia's economy and employing thousands of Russians. It is not a comprehensive cure; without increased security measures, the remaining stockpiles are still at risk of threat, for example, but it is an integral part of a solution.

To Sullivan, this is naivete and foolishness. We should "confront our enemies," not "buy them off." The disincentive to sell to rogue states is that we can offer more money, encourage employment, and do it all in the open with the blessing of international opinion. Sullivan's president would march in with guns blazing. You decide who is scarier.


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