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Kevin Bayona: What happens after Boston?

Posted: April 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 18, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

The bombings in Boston are beyond what I ever thought I would see in an American city.
I’m not really sure why — I lived through 9/11 — and as a native New Yorker I felt the same emotional reverberations course through my body as I watched the chaotic footage from Copley Square that I experienced over 11 years ago. Americans have also been extremely lucky, as many terror plots have been prevented by the authorities for over a decade.
I suppose, deep down, I knew this would eventually happen — and now I fear we’ve entered a new era in American history.
We still don’t know who committed this act of terror — or why. And let’s be clear about this — what happened in Boston was indeed an act of terror, whether it was homegrown or foreign.
A homegrown act would be considered a crime, while a foreign act would be an act of war. Yes, I said war (I can already hear my detractors calling me a war-monger — but so be it).
As I sit here and ponder the consequences and significances of the Boston bombings, I can’t help but contemplate when and where Americans might have to suffer through a nuclear explosion that would alter the United States and the world beyond what we could ever imagine.
Nuclear proliferation is an important problem that we all face. Now, in light of what happened in Boston, we must seriously consider we may see more of the same across the United States and might actually live through a nuclear event.
Maybe we can learn from what happened in Boston and begin to accept the new era in which we live and the new threats which we now face.
Last month, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, along with other distinguished former diplomats George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn, penned a column in the Wall Street Journal about the dangers of nuclear proliferation and how the “dangers of suicidal terrorist groups, the growing number of nations with nuclear arms and differing motives, aims and ambitions poses very high and unpredictable risks.”
Kissinger et al. also wrote about traditional non-proliferation efforts between the United States and Russia and how we must continue to work to reduce our nuclear stockpiles.
They referred to four areas which the United States and other powers should address to reduce the risk of a catastrophic nuclear event somewhere in this world.
The first area to be addressed (and I think the most important) is the proliferation of nuclear materials around the world. Kissinger et al. pointed out that nuclear materials are stored at hundreds of sites in 28 countries, but that is down from about 40 countries just 10 years ago, which is certainly great progress.
The problem is that many of these sites are not well secured and vulnerable to theft. The writers encourage world leaders to create a global security system to track, account for, manage and secure all weapons-usable nuclear materials.
The second area of concern is the traditional problem posed by the world’s largest nuclear powers, the United States and Russia. Both still maintain many nuclear weapons on prompt-launch status, which set nuclear armed ballistic missiles to be launched in minutes.
The United States and Russia must come together and work toward dismantling part of these ready-to-launch missiles.
The third area which Kissinger and his colleagues address places even greater emphasis on New Start treaties, which have been successful and brought stability to the strategic situation between the two greatest nuclear powers.
Although reducing American and Russian tactical nuclear weapons would be great progress, Kissinger et al. remind us that the “nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran undermine the Non-Proliferation Treaty and pose a direct threat to regional and global stability.
“Unless these two states are brought into compliance with their international obligations, their continued nuclear programs will erode support for nonproliferation and further nuclear reductions.”
We don’t live in a relatively stable bipolar world anymore and must contend with an increasingly dangerous multi-polar world.
The fourth and final area of concern for the elder statesmen is the lack of transparency in the world of non-proliferation. They encourage the United States to launch a “verification initiative” that would bring together U.S nuclear weapons labs and scientific experts from around the world to develop technologies and innovations for “reducing and controlling nuclear weapons and materials.”
I suppose some may think I’ve made quite the leap from the bombings in Boston to the possibility of a nuclear explosion on American soil.
But I still remember a world when Americans only knew of the death and chaos we saw in Boston and New York from their television screens in faraway lands.
Talk about a leap.

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