Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Carnegie Conference: Appearance in NPR Talk of the Nation

I came home, and I can write my blog posts again. As I said in the last post, I attended the Carnegie International Non-Proliferation Conference at the International Trade Center, or Ronald Reagan Building in Washington DC on November 7 and 8. This conference is held every 18 months, and the largest event by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. As I mentioned last time, leading policymakers were invited to give lectures on non-proliferation. Audiences invited to this conference were top experts from the government, the media, Washington think tanks, embassies, and NGOs from all over the world. At the panel discussion on various topics, guest speakers and attendants discussed very seriously as experts on nuclear proliferation. In other words, both of them talk with mutual respect to their knowledge. It was terrific.

The first speaker was Mohamed El Baradei, Director General of IAEA, and winner of Nobel peace prize this year. I was impressed with his pragmatist approach to nuclear non-proliferation. He said he did not stick to NPT as long as his effort to stop nuclear proliferation was satisfied. Since the Iraq War, I had an impression that he was at odds with the Bush administration. However, he praised the Bush approach to India practical. He is not always against Bush, and I am impressed with his pragmatism.

Another big guest was Samuel Bodman, Secretary of Energy in current Bush administration. His prime focus was on US-Russian non-proliferation cooperation. In particular, he mentioned about shipping highly enriched uranium and plutonium from former Soviet countries to Russia, and converting weapons grade nuclear fuel to civilian use. He stressed how successful US-Russian cooperation is in this area. Currently, the relationship between the United States and Russia is not necessarily friendly. Despite that, both nuclear powers pursue common agenda for non-proliferation. Those who criticize Bush foreign policy unilateralist should reconsider their viewpoints.

Most surprisingly, I appeared in NPR Talk of the Nation. It was a live talk show on November 8, and Neal Conan chaired panel discussion on nuclear arsenals between guest speakers and listeners. Also, experts at the conference asked questions to guest speakers. NPR staff requested us to clap in order to create enthusiastic atmosphere. In addition, they requested us to ask easy questions, and not to ask something of expert, so that listeners can understand well. NPR delivered a piece of paper to write down a question and name on it. Then, the audience submits the question to NPR staff for selection. Those who passed this selection could ask a question to the guest.

Fortunately, my question on nuclear history was taken up by the staff, and I went up to the microphone. I asked them “Why didn’t the US use nuclear bombs in the Korean War and the Vietnam War?” As to Korea, retired General Eugene Habiger replied that it was questionable whether nuclear bomb was effective against North Korea. As to Vietnam, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara of the Kennedy administration said that the United States worried Chinese intervention if nuclear bomb was used against North Vietnam. Also, the US wanted to avoid the reputation of genocide, he said.

I would like to mention more about the Carnegie and Woodrow Wilson events in my later posts.