Noam Chomsky: How Close the World Is to Nuclear War?
The following is an excerpt from the new book Nuclear War and Environmental Catastrophe, by Noam Chomsky and Laray Polk, which takes the form of a series of interviews with MIT Professor Noam Chomsky. Laray Polk: What immediate tensions do you perceive, that could lead to nuclear war? How close are we? Noam Chomsky: Actually, nuclear war has come unpleasantly close many times, since 1945. There are literally dozens of occasions, in which there was a significant threat of nuclear war. There was one time in 1962, when it was very close, and furthermore, it's not just the United States. India and Pakistan have come close to nuclear war several times, and the issues remain. Both India and Pakistan are expanding their nuclear arsenals with US support. There are serious possibilities involved with Iran, not Iranian nuclear weapons, but just attacking Iran, and other things can just go wrong. It's a very tense system, always has been. There are plenty of times, when automated systems in the United States, and in Russia, it's probably worse, have warned of a nuclear attack, which would set off an automatic response, except that human intervention happened to take place in time, and sometimes in a matter of minutes. That's playing with fire. That's a low probability event, but with low probability events over a long period, the probability is not low. There is another possibility that, I think, is not to be dismissed: nuclear terror. Like a dirty bomb in New York City, let's say. It wouldn't take tremendous facility to do that. I know US intelligence or people like Graham Allison at Harvard who works on this. They regard it as very likely in the coming years, and who knows what kind of reaction there would be to that. So, I think there are plenty of possibilities. I think it is getting worse. Just like the Security Council did pass a resolution, S/RES/1887, which was interpreted here as a resolution against Iran. In part it was, but it also called on all states to join the Non Proliferation Treaty. That's three states: India, Pakistan, and Israel. The Obama administration immediately informed India, that this didn't apply to them, it informed Israel that it doesn't apply to them. If India expands its nuclear capacity, Pakistan almost has to, it can't compete with India with conventional forces. Not surprisingly Pakistan almost has to, it can't compete with India with conventional forces. Not surprisingly, Pakistan developed its nuclear weapons with indirect US Support.