The Impotent Opposition
Standing by helplessly, watching the superpowers' never-ending quest for bigger and better weapons, are the world's billions--the nuclear havenots.
Nowhere is frustration greater than at the United Nations. It is hardly surprising. For more than forty years, the international organization has pursued the cause of nuclear disarmament with the greatest of urgency. 1 It has pleaded with the superpowers to control their nuclear arms, beseeched them to place mankind's interests ahead of their own, offered plans and proposals designed to translate words into action--but to no avail.
The superpowers are not really adverse to having the nuclear issue discussed before the United Nations provided that the U.N. role is limited to discussion, not to concrete measures likely to affect their national interests. The need to arrest the arms race, the hopes of mankind, are secondary considerations. The superpowers' only objective at the United Nations is to protect their own special status in the world and to advance their national interests.
The world received its first lesson in superpower disarmament politics as early as 1946, when both the United States and the Soviet Union submitted proposals 2 before the international organization for ending the production of nuclear weapons and the destruction of existing stockpiles. There was a major difference, though, in the two plans: the U.S. proposal called for international controls and sanctions to be effectively in place before production of nuclear weapons could cease; the Soviet plan would go into effect immediately on entry of the agreement into force--no controls, nothing.