Nuclear Apartheid: The Quest for American Atomic Supremacy from World War II to the Present

By Shane J. Maddock | Go to book overview

9
A Treaty to Castrate the Impotent
CODIFYING NUCLEAR APARTHEID, 1965–1970

“If I had a dollar for every time I consulted with the Germans, I’d be a millionaire,” snorted President Lyndon Johnson in March 1967. Johnson’s anger flared after the Bonn government complained of the superpowers’ “atomic complicity” in negotiating a nonproliferation treaty. The president had legitimate reasons to be irritated. During his first years in office, he had been extremely sensitive to Germany’s and other allies’ security interests, allowing nonproliferation negotiations to be shaped more by alliance politics than by superpower rivalry. Bonn “had written half the treaty,” according to Dean Rusk. Moscow and Washington had concluded that nonproliferation enhanced both U.S. and Soviet national security, especially with respect to West Germany and non-Western nations. They envisioned a two-tier system in which their respective alliance partners would have tightly controlled access to nuclear weapons while the rest of the world pledged nuclear abstinence. Newly decolonized nations, however, objected to this system of “nuclear weapons apartheid,” demanding that Moscow and Washington cut their nuclear arsenals to offset the sacrifice of non-nuclear nations. The superpowers instead promulgated a nonproliferation agreement that the most significant near-nuclear nations rejected. Conclusion of the NPT became even less meaningful in 1969 when LBJ’s successor, Richard Nixon, abandoned all but the most symbolic efforts at enforcement. The NPT that finally took

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