Should Yemen get on the bandwagon now?The nuclear dilemma [Archives:2006/990/Opinion]

October 16 2006

It is really upsetting that with most knowing human beings having a feel of the awesome destruction that nuclear arms can cause, there is still no hope that the trend will ever really shift towards having a nuclear arms free world. On the contrary, over the last five years, nuclear proliferation has caught on as a desirable option of defense and or possession of the most advanced scientific or technological know-how, ostensibly for harnessing the energy of the atom for peaceful uses.

What is distressing is that those countries, which possess the biggest arsenals of mass destruction, chemical or biological annihilation capabilities, including atomic bombs, ICBMs, and all the different deliverers of WMD, chemical and biological killers are the last to show that they truly recognize the threat to the survival of humanity these large collections of weapons represent. That they are the loudest to insist that no “new countries” should be able to amass such capability or work towards building the capability to harness the energy of the atom for peaceful means, somehow corrupts the sincerity of their intentions, since they do not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency have a look at their arsenals or even their nuclear plants. It goes without saying that the only way we can have a truly civilized world committed to ensuring that no nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction are allowed to be available for use by anyone, is by getting the big “nukers” to declare that they have developed programs to completely phase out their nuclear destructive capability, with target dates for the gradual elimination of all their arsenals. In the meantime, they can easily get the commitment of all other nations that have yet to develop such capabilities to commit that they will not seek to ever develop such capability. In addition, all the peaceful nuclear programs of the world shall be obliged to be subject to strict monitoring and control by the IAEA, with regular reports presented to the international community and available to the public of the world. There is no way that those who possess the nuclear capability, in both its military and civil capacity can expect to be accepted as the dictators of moral conduct, while they allow themselves to possess the capability of destroying mankind altogether, and are not reluctant to use them at will, if they feel they need an easier way out of a tough conventional military showdown. Well over a half a century ago, the evidence was there that no one can really be trusted with nuclear weapons, no matter how much synergy they seek towards establishing their version of a moral foundation for the conduct of human relations. At the same time, these holders of massive powers of destruction can unabashedly seek to impose the servitude of the world to the benefit of their own narrow and often selfish interests, notwithstanding the costs to the human lives and welfares of other nations that must succumb to their unlimited greed and obvious chauvinism, sometimes disguised under dogmatic or ideological forebodings and claims to the highest standards of civilized conduct and intentions.

As for Yemen's recent declaration of seeking to become a possessor of nuclear technology, albeit for peaceful means, the observer is inclined to believe that such a goal is not one to be forsaken, at least for the long term future. However, one would think that at this stage, Yemen simply is far from being capable of investing the heavy capital and human resources needed to achieve this mission in the near future. Furthermore, the observer might suggest without reluctance that there are indeed other immediately more worthwhile priorities to devote the resources and energies of government, one of which includes developing the highly educated and highly skilled human resource base that is anyway required to activate such a program. The observer is not aware of any Yemeni nuclear scientists existing at the moment, either in the country or overseas, nor of any skilled masters of supporting vocations required to quickly and safely bring Yemen into the nuclear club, and thus one would think that the investment would be more worthwhile if it went towards enhancing our education sector to develop a high quality human resource base that will first of all get Yemen out of the LDC status, it now holds with honors and get the majority of Yemenis to climb out of the abyss of illiteracy, poverty and substandard health and living conditions that they have unnecessarily and hopelessly endured for too long, with little evidence of any forthcoming end in the foreseeable future. A nuclear power plant, even if possible over time, will not in any way accomplish these real meaningful goals for the overwhelming majority of Yemenis, who really deserve better.

Hassan Al-Haifi has been a Yemeni political economist and journalist for more than 20 years.