Sunday, October 04, 2009

Another column on nuclear weapons issues

A Nuclear Poland, Perhaps?

© 2009 by Bohdan O. Szuprowicz

Or nuclear Czech Republic? Or both. The decision by President Obama to abandon a missile defense system in Europe may have triggered off a worldwide nuclear weapons proliferation scramble. At least 30 countries refrained from developing their own ”nuclear deterrent” in previous years lulled into security by promises of protection by the United States. That kind of luxury seems to have come to an end while nuclear terror potential grows more ominous every day.
Poland is in the forefront of this controversy primarily because of the insensitive way it was informed about the withdrawal. ”Treason, sold-out, knife-in-the-back” are the comments seen throughout the Polish media. The Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, refused to take the call when President Obama tried to reach him on 17 September...
Political pundits and observers are beginning to wonder whether the timing of that call was deliberate. In the history of Poland, 17 September 1939 is a date that went down ” in infamy”. That’s when the Soviet Union betrayed the non-agression treaty of 1932 and stabbed Poland in the back by invading it from the East soon after Hitler attacked earlier that month from the West, North and South.
But that’s not all. Russian Prime Minister Putin praised Obama for a ”correct and brave” decision. That same Putin refused to apologize to Poland for the Soviet invasion during the 70-year commemorations of the start of World War 2 only two weeks before. To add insult to injury Russia nevertheless plans to counterdeploy their anti-missile missiles in Kaliningrad even if the Polish defense system is scrapped.
Poland, which for centuries was regarded as a ”bulwark of Christendom” repelling Moslem and barbaric invasions from the East, now feels betrayed, abandoned and unimportant. It is indeed insulting when a pipsqueek state like North Korea gets more attention and even assistance just because it has shown the world that it has a nuclear weapon. Yet friendly and trusting Poland, which abolished communism, fought in Iraq, and whose soldiers died in Afghanistan, was thrown aside because President Obama would like to placate Russia and try and get Georgia and Ukraine into NATO.
Already there are voices in Polish media demanding that Poland should develop its own nuclear weapons if it is to be counted in the international scheme of things. In fact Poland knows a thing or two about nuclear weapons. During the Cold War over 100 nuclear missiles were deployed in Poland by the Soviet Union targeting 12 major Western European cities. Poland realized that if the Cold War escalated, the West would use tactical nuclear weapons to try and stop a Soviet invasion. Poland would have become a devastated nuclear battleground of the first magnitude.
Suggestions about going nuclear have been appearing in Polish media for years and were even subject of satire in cabarets. Now it has become a more serious discussion and at the same time there are ideas how to go about it. Some suggest immediate construction of domestic nukes. Others propose not to waste time but simply buy some ex-Soviet nuclear weapons in the black market from the Russian Mafia.
There is little question that both Poland and the Czech Republic are industrialized countries with adequate technology to develop nuclear weapons within months or even weeks. They also have an advantage that few other would-be nuclear states enjoy. There are uranium mines in the Czech Republic which have been exploited for years to provide basic materials for the Soviet nuclear weapons program . The Czechs also proliferated nuclear skills by concentrating Chinese uranium ores in the 1960’s, when China developed its own nuclear bomb technology originally obtained from the Soviet Union..
The nuclear weapons genie has been let out of the bottle many years ago. It has been kept in check through relatively sensible deterrence policies of an exclusive nuclear club. Today, with the emerging threat of nuclear terror of undetermined origins, nuclear weapons geopolitics is undergoing a rapid change. Unilateral disarmament as an example for would–be nuclear states and terrorists is a very uncertain path to a more secure future.(680words)

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