Can we ever ban nuclear weapons?
Philip Taubman discusses his book 'The Partnership'
- Duration 10:13
- Date Apr 18, 2012
Philip Taubman discusses his book 'The Partnership'
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And joining me is a gentleman whose -- and are very sort of sobering haunt him provocative book called up partnership.
Five called warriors quest to ban the bomb.
Felt -- former New York Times bureau chief in Moscow.
Your chief Washington right and who is -- daylight left the New York Times gone to Stanford University -- -- about nuclear proliferation.
Have you near and dear to my heart my dissertation is that -- Okay so the five code warriors I know -- all.
Henry Kissinger church Bill Perry -- drowned.
Stanford physicist yeah -- and Sam Nunn former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
You looked at the history of nuclear proliferation.
And -- -- that these five.
Pretty realistic senior you know no sort of the airy fairy collection.
These -- people why they.
You -- the world.
-- Well you're quite right.
-- -- not pass -- anything but.
And there are two Republicans and two Democrats.
It's a new journalism an independent so you're talking about a bipartisan or nonpartisan group which is pretty -- usually -- And their goal of eliminating nuclear weapons is.
Actually it's ultimate goal of course it's an inspirational -- but it's tied to a series of steps that they're promoting.
That call for variety of practical things we can do to reduce nuclear threats and eliminate -- risk of a nuclear 9/11.
Which is a really scary thought.
Okay so what are the step the steps are things like trying to get the production of bomb grade fissile material cut off.
So that terrorism is a step out of which you make your fairway yeah this is your rampant highly.
Trying to create an international fuel bank.
That would be a place where few would be enriched for use in reactors but at a level that you couldn't use it to make bombs -- Reducing the -- American and Russian arsenals down to.
Practical saying level at this point.
They think and I think we have far too many weapons for any possible use of nuclear weapons.
So there -- -- whole series of things we can do that will actually reduce the threat of nuclear -- eleventh terrorist group headed home.
This material and making a weapon and at the same time will bring the number of weapons down in the Russian and American arsenal to a point where it's more -- When did you ever -- you never get to zero right well that's a zero that means that it is for one country one sub national groups to cheat have one left behind -- their profits.
And well that's a threat.
They think we can get to zero these five men.
Not so sure about that.
But I think that that goal.
It has inspired a lot of people including President Obama to pursue.
These issues and that John McCain.
Actually embrace the idea of eliminating nuclear weapons when he was running for president four years ago that -- I think everything else like to wrap everything reverend -- about it Kevin changes.
Well you know you can get down to a much more reasonable level and we are today we still have 5000 weapons of Russians Russians have done more why -- we need all these weapons.
There's not going to be.
Nuclear war between Russia and United States.
Let's say North Korea attacked the United States with a nuclear weapon hit Seattle.
This present United States going -- fire back hundreds or thousands of nuclear weapons.
Not sure the president and -- fire a single nuclear weapon he might retaliate with conventional.
Bombs so we don't need all of these weapons and if we get down to about 500.
Then maybe the Chinese will talk about cutting mayors we might actually get down to a level where the threat of some kind of nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India is reduced.
That so it's not it's not entirely crazy idea at least two.
Move in that direction.
What -- -- for President Reagan I drafted the young Star Wars speech -- I wrote the part nobody remembers president ray camera part everybody remembers that.
His idea was that you'll never make nuclear weapon nobody will ever negotiate a way nuclear weapons as long as they're really valuable weapons.
But if you've found a way to defend against them to basically -- -- -- obsolete so that nobody's nuclear weapons.
Could ever be launched and hit another country successfully.
Then people will stop building them because.
There's no incentive to have a weapon that doesn't work.
Get at the same time.
In modern times we've all cut back on our defense programs our strategic defense our missile defense programs -- were what's your argument there.
Well two things I -- -- 11 of all I I think the Reagan concept was overblown technology wasn't ready it's not ready today you can have an interminable missile shield.
You -- have interceptors that will knock down a small number of incoming warheads and we should have that kind of system we got.
And we're working on that we should have that because that's the kind of attack that someday -- could come from North Korea.
Could come from Iran.
But the idea of building a massive missile shield I think was -- False promise.
Reagan embraced it.
You know better than I do because he believed deeply in eliminating nuclear weapons but the mindset that we really need to -- just not to develop a defensive system.
It's to get people understand repeat -- -- -- -- these weapons there -- some of unusable because they are so destructive.
They were never used during the Cold War.
We drop two weapons on Japan they've never been used in anger since then.
And if you if you think about what's happened to the countries that have tried to acquire nuclear weapons to be so called great powers look at the countries that have done -- in recent years.
Iran is working on -- program and think about the countries that have given up their nuclear weapons program Sweden Norway Brazil Argentina.
You know I think we're at a point where the the metric for what makes a great power has changed so radically that it's an obsolete -- to have all these nuclear weapons.
One of the arguments in the Cold War was that in fact nuclear weapons made the world a safer place if I -- my dissertation.
The argument that.
When countries became nuclear countries they stop fighting each other that they were very nervous that even have the slightest conventional.
-- -- -- -- -- -- we've between the United States and Soviet Union within rapidly escalate to thermonuclear war within a week.
That I looked at the China.
-- -- example as saying here's a place where these two countries did fight each other in 1960 -- they did have border clashes and they went nowhere.
So what have the argument that in fact countries which have nuclear weapons.
Because everyone is so fearful of what would happen in a nuclear exchange in fact don't fight at all because they're so nervous that it's going to escalate.
From just a border conflict.
So thermonuclear war well you know when you look back at the Cold War you look back in recent years what has happened.
Two countries that did possess nuclear weapons and ultimate deterrent United States have overwhelming array of nuclear weapons.
Did not stop.
The blockade of Berlin.
In the late forties and led to the Berlin and went to did not stop the construction of the Berlin Wall in the early sixties.
It did not stop the Vietnam War the Korean War didn't stop the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
In 1970 -- You know so.
Let's get real about nuclear weapons.
You know they're not gonna be used except.
Very senior American military officer one of the most senior came out to Stanford a year and a half ago to talk about.
Nuclear deterrence and when he was asked under what circumstances -- the United States use its nuclear arsenal and believe me.
He knew -- -- under what circumstances we would use it.
His answer was.
Almost no -- for instance he could not imagine using more than a handful of weapons.
All right let me -- the flip argument.
And we don't have much time left out and to think about the flip argument if we don't managed to ban nuclear weapons if the world in fact proliferate so say.
You know North Korea has ten nuclear weapons Iran maybe within a -- -- -- nuclear weapons the saudis other countries have said they want nuclear weapons in their own.
What does the world look like ten years from now if we fail to stop the proliferation.
It's going to be an even more dangerous place and I think that's why Iranian situation is so important.
Because if Iran gets a nuclear weapon the chances are that Egypt was gonna want one Turkey.
Certainly Saudi Arabia so it's kind of at a very.
Delicate tipping point.
But if you look back.
You know John Kennedy when he was president.
Gave a speech in which he predicted that within ten or fifteen years and -- twenty nuclear weapon states we never got to that point.
So we actually have done a pretty good job of restraining the growth.
But I think if Iran gets a weapon.
The -- is gonna fly open.
And I am prevents than their prayer every country and I underline read through the Middle East so I think that's what concerns the president I mean that's why.
He would not normally have expected -- -- Obama to.
Declare that containment was not.
And strategy he would embrace we've Iran if it goes nuclear he basically said if they don't we we can't allow them to go nuclear.
And I think this is the main reason he's concerned is that it's gonna open -- pandora's box in terms of proliferation.
Well I think the book is fascinating thank you partnership.
Five Cold -- years.
Quest to ban the bomb.
It talks about all the reasons we should ban the bomb all of the difficulties we would have in them in the found.
And I think -- just given us an example what happens if we don't manage to just.
Thank thank you very much -- -- and again the book is the partnership.
The five called warriors quest to ban the bomb I -- quite.