Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons: A Czech View
Ambassador Jaromir Novotny
Ambassador of the Czech Republic
I would like to emphasize U.N. Under-Secretary-General Tanaka’s statement that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is in deep crisis. There has been news that three countries that are known to be nuclear powers—Israel, Pakistan, and India—are out of the treaty. Two countries that accepted the treaty—North Korea and Iran—are also withdrawing. And when Pakistan tested a nuclear bomb in 1998, the Iranian government congratulated Pakistan on deploying the first Islamic bomb, a Sunni bomb. Now Iran is on its way to creating a Shiite bomb, which is another problem. As to North Korea, it is violating the NPT Treaty and has announced it.
A new step, a very dangerous step, was taken by the U.S. government when it proposed that the Indian government sign a deal on the transfer of nuclear technology to India. This very action created a third category of state, a state that is not in the NPT Treaty but is receiving all the advantages of it. In exchange, India did not give anything away, including control of its new seven fast-speed reactors, which were developed under a purely Indian technology. According to the U.S./India agreement, only the old reactors are under the control of the international community. So as Orwell said, “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” This is a very dangerous step.
We are also witnessing the spread of nuclear technologies. The discovery of the clandestine network of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan is a shock but it seems hard to believe that Pakistan’s government agencies were not informed of it and this is very difficult to accept.
If we look at the history of chemical weapons, they have already been used by states. They were used in the Iraq-Iran war. They were used by the Iraqi government against the Kurds. And if you remember the first Gulf War, the Czech chemical units measured the presence of chemicals in the air. Subsequently thousands of U.S. and British soldiers suffered from the so-called Gulf War Syndrome. Perhaps it was an accident in which a depot was bombed —I do not know— but the fact is that the presence of chemicals was measured and they were used.
Chemical weapons have also been used by non-state actors. For example, they were used in Tokyo’s metro a few years ago by the Aum religious sect. So the question is not whether these weapons will be used, it is when they will be used because sooner or later, chemicals will become the weapons of the poor since it is not very difficult to create a chemical or a biological weapon. There are manuals on the Internet on how to make them. In the United States, one fanatic detonated a bomb made with fertilizers in Oklahoma City, causing at least 150 deaths. It was a chemical weapon. So the main question is when they will be used.
Again, it is the same with biological weapons, it is even more simple: very small amounts of a biological concentration in the drinking systems could annihilate entire capital cities. So the situation does not leave room for much optimism.