>I understand the reluctance to allow your (perceived) enemy
>have their own weapons, especially nuclear weapons,
>but am I the only one who thinks it's completely hypocritical
>for a country (or group of countries) to say "WE can have
>these weapons, but YOU can't"?
Perhaps, up to a point. The difference is in publicly stated foreign policy. NK has, so I understand, a publicly stated policy of invading/destroying the South, Japan, the US, anyone really. Similarly Iran has a publicly stated policy of obliterating Israel from the map of the world, and makes noises about the UK and US also. The US, France, UK, Russia, Israel, Pakistan and India don't appear to be overtly threatening anyone else with unwarranted nuclear obliteration.
My point is not totally sound. Political intent can change overnight. During the recent dispute between Georgia and Russia, an aide to Putin was publicly threatening nuclear strikes against Ukraine for blocking the use of Sevastopol port by the Russian Navy. In that context such threats seem a tad excessive. Now imagine that aide becoming the Russian Premier - something that could happen overnight as a result of an election. Would he start threatening everyone else too? Who knows? Would one take that chance? Would one, given how quickly things can change in the world, give up anything that might deter or fend off a nuclear attack?
One could argue that democracy and nuclear weapons don't mix too well. Democracy does allow an unstable and politically naive government to form as a result of inflamatory campainging stoking up public backing. The result can be a political leadership with their finger on the nuclear button, but with no experience whatsoever in understanding what really happens when that button is pressed.
> I'm a US citizen, and I have to ask -- does anyone trust the US
Relax - I don't think anyone in the world thinks Obama's about to start slinging nukes around. Though one did wonder a little bit about Bush.
The problem for the world is that when someone like Ahmedinajad publicly says he's going to wipe another country from the map, and he's given the means to do so by his own military industrial complex, it wouldn't be entirely surprising if he were to do so no matter the consequences. He may even be obliged to do so by domestic political pressure (something that his inflamatory speeches are doing a good job of stoking up). Even if he chose not to, can one really trust the Iranian command control structure to be sufficiently robust to prevent some rogue element launching the damn thing anyway? Same for NK.
The trouble when defending against nukes is that probabilities like 90% aren't good enough. 100% is good enough, but hard to achieve.
This is just idle speculation, but I wonder why the first NK test was a fizzle. Assuming that it was an implosion device, I can't see why it didn't work. My point is that testing that you've got the implosion right is easy. You try it with a lump of stainless steel, and eventually you'll get it right. That's how they did it at Los Alamos during WWII. Then you have to get the right amount of the right plutonium isotope, and that's very easy to determine. So assuming that NK had gone through that loop enough times to be sure that they'd got it right, why didn't it actually go bang? Does this hint at deliberate sabotage within NK, or is it techies who know they've not got these things right letting one off anyway to save their own necks?
I've not heard that the US has detected a radioactive plume of off-gasing from the recent test (they did for the first one. They had to save some ancient Canberra aircraft from the scrap heap to do so). Was it really a nuclear bang, or did NK just pile up sufficient chemical explosives to fool everyone else and are playing some high risk political game?