NEW YORK — The Bush administration — not the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), Iran, or any other “rogue state” — is most responsible for the threat of nuclear proliferation, say organizers of the March and Rally for Peace in Iraq and Nuclear Disarmament Worldwide set for May 1 at the United Nations.

The demonstration will take place the day before the UN begins a review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was adopted in 1970, and extended indefinitely in 1995. The treaty, which was ratified by all nations except India, Pakistan, and Israel, aims to curb the spread of nuclear weapons, and eventually eliminate them altogether.

Under the terms of the treaty, only the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, and the People’s Republic of China — are allowed to have nuclear weapons. These nations may not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries, and all five are required to take steps to reduce their stockpiles.

In October 2002, the Bush administration announced an unprecedented “National Security Strategy,” laying out a range of situations in which the U.S. would use nuclear weapons as a first resort against non-nuclear states. Bush’s 2006 budget includes funds for development of “strategic nuclear weapons” which would be “more usable.” Analysts say this new first-strike doctrine clearly contradicts the treaty’s stipulation that nuclear states move to reduce their stockpiles.

“The U.S. and Russia are in a league by themselves, because they each have over 12,000 nuclear bombs,” said Alice Slater of the Abolition Now campaign. “England, France, and China have in the hundreds — 300 or 400 — and they’re not going to do anything until the U.S. and Russia get their act together.”

Slater said the Soviet Union, and later Russia, had offered to begin cutting their nuclear weapons, if the U.S. would do likewise. Each time, the Russians were rebuffed.

“Gorbachev said in 1986, ‘Let’s get rid of them by the year 2000,’ and Reagan said, ‘Great idea, but we’re gonna build Star Wars,’” Slater said. “Gorbachev said if we build Star Wars all bets are off, because the Soviets would need their nuclear weapons to protect themselves from U.S. space domination. Putin at one point wanted to cut to 1,000. The U.S. refused.”

John Burroughs, of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told the World, “The main problem is that the United States is not living up to its commitment to reduction and elimination of its arsenal. That makes it much harder to convince countries that do not now have nuclear weapons that they should not seek them.”

In Slater’s view, this may have been why North Korea felt it necessary to withdraw from the treaty and announce that it has built nuclear weapons. Article X of the nonproliferation treaty says any state can withdraw if it feels that an “extraordinary event” compelled it to do so.

North Korea argues that, while it does not want to see further nuclear proliferation, the threat posed by the Bush administration — Bush’s National Security Strategy specifically mentions North Korea — forced its hand. This would also mean that the U.S. is in violation of Article I of the treaty, which says that no nuclear state may “induce” a non-nuclear state to acquire nuclear weapons.

The U.S. also effectively vetoed the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, when the Senate rejected it in 1999.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is “central” to nuclear nonproliferation, and an essential means of stopping the nuclear arms race, said Burroughs. “The U.S. is clearly the key roadblock.”

Unlike the Clinton administration, Bush policymakers oppose the test ban treaty, and some fear they will attempt a nuclear test.

The May 1 rally is expected to draw thousands of participants, including mayors from around the world and survivors of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The goal is “to demand abolition of nuclear weapons on a global basis — starting with the United States,” Burroughs said. “It’s to stop further ‘preventive’ wars against countries which are claimed to be seeking nuclear weapons, and it’s to bring the troops [in Iraq] home.”

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