Faith is the assurance of things hoped for. The Bible tells us so. One of the things on anybody’s wish list is a nuclear-free world. But without assurance that the hope will be redeemed such wishes are the stuff of idle delusion. That goes double for the expectation that the Trump administration’s recertification of the deal proscribing Iran’s nuclear program, and the United Nations’ nuclear weapons ban, will give wing to the dove of peace.
The White House announced this week that it would declare the Islamic Republic of Iran in technical compliance with the terms of the flawed nuclear agreement signed two years ago by President Obama. Mindful of Donald Trump’s vow as a presidential candidate to tear up the deal, the official statement says Iran is “in default of the spirit” of the pact, recognizing that Iran bends the rules to its aims without quite breaking them. President Trump’s recertification gives the mullahs a pass to continue the nuclear research into weapons that would threaten everybody, and particularly the hated West, with its Judeo-Christian democratic traditions.
Like a police officer who charges the thrower of a Molotov cocktail with littering rather than arson, the State Department followed the compliance certification with new sanctions on Iran for its ballistic missile program and its other “malign activities” in the Middle East. The mullahs can laugh in their turbans at the toothless reprimand and at 18 sanctioned men, women and organizations. They tout their penalties as badges of honor.
Earlier this month the United Nations adopted an equally hollow Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The measure was backed by 122 nations, nearly all unable to build anything more dangerous than a popgun. Brave Netherlands voted against the ban, and Singapore, afflicted with a large restive Muslim population, abstained. The ban applies to the development and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, and the prohibition on threatening to use them.
The global body might as well have gone a step further and outlawed war. Missing from the balloting — and the preceding three weeks of negotiation — were the nine nations that actually have nuclear arsenals of various size: the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. None are inclined to give up the protection of their nuclear weapons on instruction from the United Nations. More likely, those non-nuclear nations would beat their plowshares into swords out of sight of the U.N.
An injunction against nuclear bombs comes at a curious time — just when the communist regime in North Korea is working feverishly to build an arsenal of nuclear missiles with which to threaten the world. Kim Jong-un greets every entreaty for peaceful accommodation with a chortle and the launch of another test rocket. Steady progress has brought the hermit regime to the verge of capability to strike the U.S. mainland with a weapon that could kill millions. President Trump has indulged lots of talk about the threat from North Korea, but like his harsh rhetoric about Iran, it may resound in the ears of the mullahs as nothing more than hot air.
It’s easy to forswear something unattainable. When that something is nuclear weapons, the nuclear have-nots can count themselves among the angels. Wishing for a nuclear-free world is a game any number can play.