I'm sure many of you have seen the news about the UN Security Council Resolution on nuclear proliferation today.
On the face of it it seems hard to criticise the expression of a sentiment towards reducing the amount of nuclear weapons in the world but I'm afraid that, well-meaning as this may sound, it sadly strikes me as an utterly futile and cheap politicing media moment. Without getting too far into the ghastly inequities of the UN structure, the Security Council is perhaps the most narrow, illegitimate and unrepresentative, not to mention handicaped and ineffective, old world relic of modern geopolitics to be seen today, and these kind of proclamations, which amount to a sort of 'tut, tut' from a birch-using headmaster as an attempt to discourage fighting in the playground at school don't go anywhere towards addressing the real issues of nuclear proliferation.
The obvious target of all this is Iran and the motivation to ameliorate any threat the possibility of her acquiring nuclear weaponry may pose, but the thinking seems so ultimately compromised and specious to me. The problem is that Iran's desire to become a nuclear power makes perfect sense from Iran's point of view and nothing is being done to try and change that. Tehran's biggest perceived enemies and threats - Israel, America and Britain - have nuclear weapons and show no meaningful desire to disarm in the name of preserving 'the deterrent' while at the same time constantly reiterating that they do not want Iran to join them in the nuclear club. I heard a Hilary Clinton soundbite on the radio this morning to the tune of, "it is legitimate for Iran to pursue nuclear energy but it is not legitimate for Iran to pursue nuclear weaponry". 'Not legitimate'. I can't see how that is anything other than playing into Iran's hands and gifting them with justification and provocation when you consider that what we're looking at here is one nation-state of equal legal stature saying to another that it is legitimate for one of them to possess something but not the other. Now, that is obviously going to be construed as arrogant and threatening imperialism by the Iranian government and as such is antagonistic and plainly counter-productive. It's saying to Iran – and it matters not a jot whether this is the motivation because it is how it plays – we don't want you to advance to our level because it undermines our power and strength, a power and strength that Iran already feels threatened by.
I suppose I should point out at this juncture that I don't want a nuclear Iran either. Iran is a dangerous and oppressive regime as is, and nuclear weapons in anyone's hands only increase the risk of danger. The point is that I don't think this diplomatic tone works at all. What needs to happen before anything else is a meaningful move to reduce the nuclear capabilities of the established nuclear powers. There has been talk in Britain about downscaling the Trident replacements from three to four submarines. This is utterly pointless. The savings of £3bn or so are, in context, immaterial, and the country will still possess weapons capable of ruining a country and killing millions of people that will never be used and serve no useful purpose in the context of modern diplomacy and warfare. Trident simply shouldn't be replaced; it's a relic from a bygone age clung to out of a weird machismo fear. If Britain could go to Iran on the back of announcing that she won't be renewing Trident then Iran's own nuclear ambitions could be discussed with far greater legitimacy that would undermine Iran's arguments of necessity. Obama's move to look at cutting the US arsenal is a genuinely encouraging one that should be taken further but it's not enough to legitimise the tone taken with Iran which will only play as hypocrisy when the absurd levels of destructive power that we posses are maintained.
So, I'm sure I've written such an amount so as to have lost most of your interest but, in essence: angering and alienating Iran isn't going to get us anywhere and will fail to do anything other than re-enforce fear, suspicion and pliability among the populous just as it failed with North Korea, and the words of the West will sound inevitably hollow and hypocritical until we make the first, decisive moves in what should now be a nuclear disarmament race.