Wednesday the White House and the US Capitol were hurriedly evacuated as a small Cessna plane entered the restricted airspace over Washington, DC. The swift evacuation of both buildings is an indication of just how seriously the US takes the threat of yet more attacks against its homeland.
And the truth is that the US has good reason to worry. First there was the spate of recent reports about al-Qaida's non-conventional weapons programs and the suspected connections between al-Qaida chief in Iraq Abu Musab Zarkawi, the Iranian regime and Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan's general store for nuclear weapons. But over and above that, the events of the past week show that the US attempts to use diplomacy to advance its efforts to stem the North Korean and Iranian nuclear weapons programs have thus far been abysmal failures.
Since last Thursday, delegates from 180 nations have been convening at the UN for a month-long review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This review occurs every five years and is generally both a dialogue of the deaf and utterly inconsequential. But over the past year, Bush administration officials as well as American non-proliferation experts have noted the need to update the NPT to prevent rogue regimes like Iran and North Korea from exploiting the loophole in the treaty that allows all states to develop nuclear programs for peaceful use. Both Iran and North Korea have used the loophole to attain the nuclear infrastructure necessary to develop illicit weapons.
Unfortunately, the treaty's signatories are dominated by the so-called Non-Aligned movement whose 116 members, generally led by Egypt, divide their time fairly equally between condemning Israel and condemning the US. The current treaty review conference is no exception. Led by Egypt, the developing nations have scuttled all American attempts to even agree on a conference agenda. The Egyptians first demanded that the conference set up a subsidiary body that would be charged with making the Middle East a "nuclear free zone" ? meaning that a new group would be formed whose sole goal is to pressure Israel to destroy its alleged nuclear arsenal.
Beyond their obsession with Israel-bashing, the Egyptians went a step further and aimed their diplomatic guns at the Americans. The bloc of developing countries under Egyptian leadership has demanded that the US address its "violations" of the agreement. These presumed violations involve the Bush administration's denying that the US's announced decision from five years ago to disarm parts of its nuclear arsenal is binding.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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