UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale Speaks On Nuclear Proliferation at UIRS Meeting
Chancellor Albert Carnesale spoke to a capacity crowd of members of the Undergraduate International Relations Society (UIRS) on March 9th in Ackerman 2408. The meeting was arranged by the executive board of UIRS with the help of Dean and Vice Provost Geoffrey Garrett, who is also Director of the Burkle Center for International Relations that sponsors UIRS. The Chancellor spoke about the past, present and future of nuclear proliferation, with particular emphasis on the challenges posed by Iran and North Korea, and then engaged in a roundtable discussion with the club. He is an internationally regarded expert on international security issues, having served as a consultant to government agencies and represented the United States in the SALT 1 talks with the Soviet Union.
UIRS has hosted events for members with prominent speakers in the winter quarter, including not only Chancellor Carnesale and Dean Garrett but also former Democratic presidential candidate, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis who is currently Visiting Professor in the UCLA School of Public Affairs.
Chancellor Carnesale began by claiming that "nuclear proliferation is the single greatest threat we face". However, he also noted that the number of nuclear states has only increased by one to two in the past thirty years. The Chancellor went on to identify some of the problems facing nuclear containment today. He reviewed the challenges brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the creation of "loose nukes" in Russia, and the nuclear expertise that some 3000 ex-Soviet scientists hold.
The Chancellor devoted the bulk of his remarks to the two countries of greatest concern to the United States today: North Korea and Iran. The greatest threat of North Korea as a nuclear state is that it is an extremely poor country that will sell anything to anyone, he said. Another problem cited by the Chancellor is the cascade effect; if North Korea has nuclear weapons, the surrounding countries may see a new-found desire or need for them as well. Assessing the actual threat that North Korea poses is hard because they have what Chancellor Carnesale called a "very secretive, very closed" society.
Chancellor Carnesale then went on to explain the options for dealing with the North Korean threat. They are currently engaged in six-party talks but the government is demanding one-on-one talks with the United States. Chancellor Carnesale stated that all of this maneuvering is the result of paranoia on the part of the North Koreans, who fear a South Korean and/or American attack. As a dictatorship, the government uses this fear to keep the country in line, and the people really believe it, he said. Looking forward, “diplomacy is the the least bad option," said the Chancellor, "and I believe that they can be bought."
Like North Korea, Chancellor Carnesale did not see any direct threat to the United States coming from Iran. In fact, a preemptive Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities is a greater threat. He does not believe that the Israelis will allow Iran to get close to having usable nuclear weapons.
The threat to the United States of missile-based delivery systems in other countries was downplayed by the Chancellor because the complexity of the technology makes it infeasible for terrorists and rogue nations. Therefore, even if missile defense systems were an exact science, they would not be very useful in today's world. When asked about port security and homeland defense, Carnesale stressed the alternate delivery systems that could be used, all which require stronger security. He concluded in saying that along with the need for diplomacy comes the need for a greater and different intelligence capacity than during the Cold War.
"We need to revamp for the post-Cold War period," he concluded.
The chancellor generously stayed over the allotted time in order to answer all of the questions that the students posed.
UIRS will continue to host numerous speakers and sponsor a variety of events on campus this spring in order to spread awareness to undergraduates about international issues and offer them access to experts in the faculty, administration, and field.
If you are interested in speaking to undergraduates Spring quarter, please contact us at email@example.com. If you are interested in becoming a new member, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published: Thursday, March 17, 2005