Wednesday, 28 August 2013
Why Afrika Must Acquire Nuclear Weapons
Munya Mardoch of the Israeli Institute for the Development of Weaponry is quoted as saying in 1994: “The moral and political meaning of nuclear weapons is that states which renounce their use are acquiescing to the status of vassal states. All those states which feel satisfied with possessing conventional weapons alone are fated to become vassal states.” Chilling words from the man of war by any account. It might sound like beating the drums of war, but when such words come from an important person in a country like Israel, they must be taken seriously. Israel is an “unofficial” nuclear power, alongside confirmed nuclear powers like the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, India and Pakistan. We all — unless you are from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Schultz school of “permanent war” — want a world with peace. But the reality of the world we live in is that peace is an ideal, something miasmic and probably never achievable. Those who have plenty will always want more, and those who have nothing will always want something. That reality makes war inevitable. It is either you are on the defensive or you are the aggressor, there is no in-between, no sitting on the fence. We have seen it in Libya and in many other places, and it is only going to get worse. And while we are seeing these things happening around us, as the drums of war beat ever louder and ever closer, what are we doing? Iran is developing nuclear capability. It says it is for civilian purposes, but the step to militarisation of the programme is not a huge one. So they are safe. America will not dare attack Iran as long as it suspects that Tehran has nuclear capabilities. The same goes for North Korea. Not much is known about that country’s capabilities, but America is sufficiently spooked not to have tried to launch a military campaign against Pyongyang. So they are still safe. It is what they call, in military studies, a deterrent. No nuclear power has ever or is ever likely to in the near future attack a fellow nuclear power. To do so would be to guarantee our Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). On the other hand, Muammar Gaddafi opened up his military to Western inspection. In trying to be a “good boy” with the West, he gave up his WMD programme. He dismantled his capabilities and opened himself up to the horrible death he faced just a few years ago and the rape and subjugation of Libya. The British, French, Americans and Italians exerted themselves to establish what Gaddafi had and did not have. They pushed him into essentially castrating himself and he obliged. As predicted by Munya Murdoch 17 years earlier, Libya acquiesced to becoming a vassal state. There was never going to be any other end for Gaddafi and Libya once the West was assured that Tripoli had no nuclear or general WMD capacity. You can also look at the case of South Africa. From the 1960s to the 1980s, South Africa is known to have pursued a WMD programme that included nuclear capabilities. The White apartheid regime is understood to have assembled at least six nuclear weapons. Not surprisingly, South Africa was assisted in this programme by Israel (is it of any significance that White apartheid was institutionalised in 1948, the same year that Israel’s first borders were created?) However, as it became inevitable that White apartheid should and would fall, South Africa’s authorities gave up on their WMD programme “voluntarily” and allegedly dismantled all its nuclear weapons. Several issues arise. Yes, White apartheid South Africa’s economy benefited the West a great deal but besides the money motivator, no outsider dared confront that regime militarily because they knew of its capabilities. Secondly, the masters of White apartheid did not want an African government to have control of nuclear weapons and so they got rid of them. (Some readers may remember how some years ago, I forget exactly when, the New African magazine carried an article in which Nelson Mandela ruefully conceded that he did not know what really happened to South Africa’s nuclear weapons.) Why were so many people so eager to ensure that African majority-ruled South Africa should not be a nuclear power? Would the West have humiliated Africa the way it did over the invasion of Libya if South Africa had nuclear capacity? The DRC had Africa’s first nuclear reactor. A mine in the Congo’s Katanga Province provided the uranium used to make the atomic bombs that decimated Hiroshima in 1945 and it seems a reactor was built as a thank you for that country in 1958. I hear that it is lying idle, not even generating electricity. Some may not know it because it was not highly publicised, but there were more than a few worried people in the West when Zimbabwe sent its troops into the DRC in 1998. They feared what would happen should that reactor fall in Zimbabwe’s hands, especially in light of the fact that the country had already shown it was not afraid of military confrontations — and also because it is on very good terms with Iran. There are 10 nuclear reactors on the continent (Algeria two, South Africa two, and one each for the DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Morocco and Nigeria). When are we going to realise that not fully exploiting them means we will always be vassal states?