Sen. Richard Lugar’s (R-IN) office has just released a new report on proliferation that makes some massively important points. The most eye-opening stat here is that a survey of proliferation experts suggested that the chances of a WMD attack on a city somewhere in the world—radiological, nuclear, biological, chemical—could be as much as 70 percent over the next ten years. Obviously the plural of opinion isn’t fact, but 70 percent is pretty appallingly high, no? Meanwhile, those same experts say we can expect about two to five countries to join the nuclear weapons club over the next ten years—they don’t say which countries, but it’s safe to assume that the Bush administration won’t stop Iran and North Korea from arming, and I’ve got a hunch that we might well see Saudi Arabia, Japan, and possibly even Taiwan in that club.
Meanwhile, those proliferation experts are more or less in consensus on what is to be done here: strengthen arms control treaties, boost funding for the Nunn-Lugar initiative to destroy “loose” Russian nukes, placing controls on nuclear fuel cycles, etc. etc. Most of which has not been done, although now that John Bolton’s out of the State Department there have been a few encouraging steps. Oh, and they all think it would sure be nice to try and stop Iran and North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons, although the White House’s utter inability even to talk to Pyongyang makes the latter a non-starter. Now the policy recommendations here are all eye-glazing stuff, it’s truel; perhaps not nearly as exciting for Karl Rove as, say, accusing one-third of the country of treason. Still, nuclear proliferation’s almost as big a threat to our country as Dick Durbin—lest we forget, President Bush did claim it as his number one priority during the presidential debates—and as always, it would be awfully swell if someone in charge was thinking seriously about this stuff.