Thursday, July 26, 2007

There's good news... and bad news

The FT recently ran the following headline: "Good news: you are unlikely to be nuked any time soon." This is indeed good news, the sort I like to read over my morning bowl of oatmeal.

As Gideon Rachman points out, nuclear technology, though sixty years old, is still very difficult to master. And the 1999 example of the Kargil War shows that nuclear powers tend to actually be rather restrained with their wares. Good news indeed.

There are, however, several related issues you should be worrying about (not to mention the Chinese threat).

First, Rachman - or at least those he's commenting upon - forget that there are other weapons of mass destruction besides nuclear ones. Chemical and biological weapons are much simpler to build and still terribly dangerous. And Russia has lots of them just sitting around, waiting to be stolen or sold on the black market. Even if the Russian government wants to be a good steward of these weapons and keep them out of the hands of terrorists, the Russian government itself doesn't know where all its weapons are. That's why a new blog on Russian biological and chemical weapons is highlighting the danger of non-state transfers of these things.

Of course there's no reason to assume the Russians have any desire to act responsibly. Just yesterday Vladimir Putin, known to the White House as Pooty-Poot, said Russia must continue to strengthen its military and step up spying on the West. And seeing as how Pooty-Poot tends to get what he wants in Russia, we can look forward to these developments in the coming months and years.

And if you don't yet have sufficient cause for concern, consider that Russia has just launched a submarine expedition to the North Pole on the logic that "The Arctic is ours and we should demonstrate our presence." Nevermind that the area is nowhere close to Russia's internationally recognized territorial waters; they're claiming this now too.
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