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Burns, Richard D. and Philip B. Coyle III, The Challenges of Nuclear Non-Proliferation.

Burns, Richard D. and Philip B. Coyle III, The Challenges of Nuclear Non-Proliferation. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015.

This book, part of Rowman and Littlefield's informative Weapons of Mass Destruction series, offers a chronology of nuclear weapons production and attempts at non-proliferation from World War II to the near present. The authors discuss the pros and cons of U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace Program, which critics contend contributed to the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities. Currently, about 49 countries have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. Of these, only ten have actually done so. Presently, there are five nuclear weapons states (NWS) that have ratified the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1968 (United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, and China) and four rogue NWS (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) that are not party to the NPT and do not allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.

The United States led the way in the production of atomic and nuclear weapons. By 1996, the five official NWS had conducted 2069 nuclear tests, polluting land, sea, air and formerly occupied Pacific islands. At their peaks, the United States in 1967 and the USSR in 1986 had 31,255 and 45,000 nukes, respectively. Together, they accounted for over 90 percent of the world's nucean arsenal. With the help of the United States, United Kingdom, France and private U.S. citizens loyal to Israel (a scenario not discussed by the authors), Israel became the world's sixth nuclear power, followed by India, Pakistan and North Korea. In 1964, Argentina sold over 80 tons of uranium oxide to Israel, requiring the purchaser to use it for peaceful purposes only, "An agreement that Tel Aviv ignored" (p. 171). South Africa had a nuclear weapons program, which F. W. de Clerk ordered dismantled in 1989. The authors ignore the abundance of evidence of nuclear weapons cooperation between Apartheid South Africa and Israel. They simply write that such "rumors" can neither be dismissed nor verified. Although North Korea had contemplated developing nuclear weapons, its 1992 joint declaration with South Korea on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula held promise. George W. Bush's inclusion of North Korea (along with Iraq and Iran) in his 2002 Axis of Evil speech, however, convinced North Korea that the U.S. threat required nuclear weapons for protection. It withdrew from the NPT and detonated its first nuclear device in 2006.

Burns and Coyle offer an important discussion of nuclear-weapon free zones (NWFZ), a topic largely ignored in the United States. These zones consist of groups of states that prohibit nuclear weapons on their land, sea, and air. They also agree to IAEA inspections. NWFZs are found in Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific and Central Asia. Each NWFZ treaty contains protocols asking the five official NWS not to use their nukes against members of the zone and to keep their nukes out of the zone. Although Barack Obama has submitted several of these protocols to the Senate for its approval, the Senate has not acted on them. Because four of the five NWFZ are located in the Southern Hemisphere, the UN General Assembly sought to pass a resolution making the Southern Hemisphere totally void of nuclear weapons. The resulting vote was 165 in favor with only four (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia) opposed.

In the opening chapter, the authors misleadingly state that Iran called for establishing a NWFZ in the Middle East in 2007. In fact, the UN General Assembly endorsed calls for the establishment of a NWFZ in a resolution approved in 1974 following a proposal by Iran and Egypt. Since 1980, that resolution has been passed annually. The only Middle East country to reject the proposals has been Israel, "since they required political and territorial concessions" (p. 13). Bums and Coyle fail to explain what these political and territorial concessions are. The authors rightly credit Mikhail Gorbachev with taking the lead on promoting a series of test ban and nuclear weapons reduction treaties with the United States. He was primarily responsible for, at least temporarily, reducing nuclear holocaust anxieties. After the dismantling of the Soviet Union, both American and Russian officials became concerned with the security of the nuclear weapons and fissile materials remaining in the now independent states of Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus.

The authors offer informative descriptions of the various international treaties designed to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, they exhibit a strong pro-Israel, anti-Iran prejudice that detracts from what should be a scholarly work. Israel is considered one of the rogue NWS (along with North Korea) because it has refused to ratify the NTP and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It also consistently rejects the UN General Assembly's annual proposal to establish a NWFZ in the Middle East, and it bars IAEA inspectors from its soil. By contrast, Iran's highest ranking religious/governmental authorities have condemned nuclear weapons as contrary to Islam. Iran has ratified the NPT; for decades Iran has been advocating for a NWFZ in the Middle East; and Iran has allowed IAEA inspections (although not enough for its critics). The authors fail to inform the reader that neither the IAEA nor any other reputable/impartial inspection agency has ever discovered evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Yet, without this evidence, the authors write that Iran either has a nuclear weapons program, or is pursuing one. For example, they write of "Iran's perceived efforts to join the nuclear weapons club" (p. 162). And, "Recent sanctions against Iran have aimed at dissuading [it] from proceeding with a nuclear weapons program" (p. 180).

Throughout the book, the authors imply that the danger of nuclear war in the Middle East rests with Iran, not nuclear-armed Israel. They frequently justify Israel's fears of its neighbors, but apparently cannot contemplate that the neighbors fear a nuclcar-armed Israel. This is especially ironic since Iran has not invaded any of its neighbors, while Israel has done so repeatedly. The authors accept an Israeli writer's contention that "it would have been irresponsible for Israeli leaders not to push for nuclear weapons surrounded as the new nation was by hostile Arab states" (p. 11). However, the authors exhibit no such understanding for Iran which has been constantly threatened by Israel and the United States, two nuclear powers. For many years, the Israeli prime minister has been lobbying publicly in the United States for a joint military operation against Iran. George W. Bush labeled Iran part of the Axis of Evil, and the U.S. military has Iran practically surrounded with its armed forces. The authors incongruously write that Iran is seen as "threatening [its] neighbors, allies of the United States and the United States itself" (p. 109). They never describe any of these threats. Unfortunately, the authors let their political bias detract from what otherwise would be an excellent work that should interest anyone concerned with nuclear non-proliferation.

Paul J. Magnarella

Warren Wilson College
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Author:Magnarella, Paul J.
Publication:Journal of Third World Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2015
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