Should one continue to play in the field to make sure that it is kept regulated Or should one insist on the moral high ground and stay away from an arena where the evil is both patent and inherent
No other world leader has been hounded by this question more than Jimmy Carter, whose regime has seen the evolution of the American Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Though his good faith and commitment to his advocacy have remained unquestioned, many have voiced their opposition over a nuclear containment strategy that effectively cuts off US engagement from other States with respect to the development of nuclear arsenal, and restricts technology transfer with the end in view of achieving nuclear nonproliferation. It is submitted, however, that Carter is not to blame for the failure of his policies. The larger political landscape - both internal and external - must be examined. If at all, Carter must be lauded for boldly extricating the discourse of nuclear weapons from the neither-here-nor-there language of political ambiguity. His fierce and uncompromising condemnation of nuclear weapons has found resonance all over the world, and continues to affect American foreign policy, one American President after another.
The history of American policy on nuclear weapons is indeed a colorful and protracted one. After the Second World War ended, the Soviet Union began the nuclear race. Desirous of preventing the Soviets from amassing nuclear arsenal, the US encouraged its allies to explore its nuclear capabilities as well. However, the infamous nuclear testing conducted by France radically altered policy and nonproliferation became the avowed goal. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was entered into by the administration of Lyndon Johnson. However, it was a secondary issue for all intents and purposes. America was made complacent by the absence of threats.
When India detonated a nuclear device in 1984, a paradigm shift took place. Nonproliferation suddenly became an important issue. Then President Nixon gave word that he would supply nuclear reactors to Egypt and Israel so they may develop their own nuclear capabilities. Many raised fears, valid fears, that this would only lead to the unabated spread of nuclear weapons and it would reach a point when regulation would be next to impossible.
Comes now Jimmy Carter, riding on the crescent wave of anti-nuclear weapon advocates. In his campaign, he always gave special importance to the issue of nuclear weapons. He knew why he wanted to do it - because the anti-nuclear weapons advocacy was at the core human rights issue, and how he would do it - by prohibiting the commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium used in the creation of nuclear weapons. By arresting the technology transfer, Carter believed that he was paving the way for nuclear containment.
This was a radical and total departure from the policies of Nixon on Ford, who believed in strategic engagement, even a little muscle-flexing, when the need arises. His was a complete declaration of war against nuclear weapons; not the case-to-case basis policy of previous regimes.
Much opposition was generated by Carter's policy. In the strong words of Sen. Pete Domenici, a Republican from New Mexico, " a strategy of nonproliferation based solely on denial of equipment and technology will at most only delay, not prohibit this possibility." The legislature also