Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

World Bank and Arms Sales

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

World Bank and Arms Sales

Article excerpt

IF stopping the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons is vital to our nation's security, why not withhold Western subsidies to governments that build weapons of mass destruction?

The United States provides roughly 20 percent of the funds used by the World Bank and other multilateral development banks to lend to Third World governments. These funds are paid directly to governments and free up local tax dollars for other purposes. In all too many cases, those other purposes are the production of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and the missiles needed to deliver them.

World Bank loans are conditional: They must pass workers' rights and environmental tests, for example. US representatives on the bank's board must even vote against loans that would hurt US agriculture and copper interests. Yet US law only requires our World Bank representatives to "consider" whether a recipient country has detonated a nuclear device in reviewing loans.

Sen. John Glenn (D) of Ohio has proposed tightening these restrictions. He has called on US officials overseeing World Bank operations to oppose any "direct or indirect use" of loans that would assist a nonnuclear nation in acquiring a bomb. He would also ask that officials "consider" a country's nonproliferation status before approving loans. These are welcome steps and deserve quick passage.

The example of China illustrates the need. Under the Bush administration, Secretary of State James Baker III warned Beijing that it had to stop deliveries of missile and nuclear technology to Pakistan.

In 1990, Pakistan nearly went to nuclear war with India. Mr. Baker imposed sanctions against two Chinese companies to make his point and lifted the sanctions only after the Chinese promised to behave. Recent satellite imagery, however, shows that China continued deliveries of its M-11 missile, giving the Pakistanis the ability to start a nuclear war on the subcontinent in minutes. …

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