NPR Reporter Mike Shuster Discusses the “Axis of Evil” and the Worldwide Threat of Nuclear Weapons

Renowned foreign correspondent for National Public Radio (NPR) Mike Shuster admitted that he had come to consider himself the “Axis of Evil” correspondent. Not only did Mr. Shuster spend time visiting with classes on Thursday and Friday, but he also gave a lecture on the history behind the current situation in the Middle East. In the past few years he has focused on reporting from Iran, Afghanistan, Israel, and Iraq, President Bush’s infamously termed “Axis of Evil.” Mr. Shuster began his speech outlining the start of the Cold War, noting that the U.S. ended World War II with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but simultaneously began another. Four years after 1945, the Soviet Union acquired the bomb and throughout the 1950s both the Soviet Union and the United States began producing huge arsenals of hydrogen bombs. In 1968, fearing the spread of nuclear weapons, nations around the globe signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The treaty permitted only five countries to have nuclear weapons: France, Great Britain, the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet Union. “Almost all the nations of the world had signed this treaty, but still, each side, [especially] the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. had thousands of nuclear weapons…so the nuclear nations were not doing much to disarm,” Mr. Shuster said. Mr. Shuster continued to explain how their failure to disarm generated hostility towards the five nuclear states. Not all nations signed the treaty, as Mr. Shuster explained. India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel, who have already or are in the process of producing nuclear weapons, are the most prominent nations that did not sign it. However, other nations, such as Iraq, signed the treaty, but may be producing nuclear weapons. “When a nation acquires nuclear weapons, there are reasons. It is usually because of a sense of insecurity. North Korea is definitely isolated and it really has no friends,” Mr. Shuster said. “I think Iran and North Korea think that the way to prevent an American attack is deterrence of a nuclear program. As a result, the US is more likely to seek a diplomatic solution or just ignore it like the Bush administration has done.” Israel, an isolated country in the Middle East, is one of the few nations who had nuclear weapons outside of the treaty. “Now we are seeing tension in Israel about Iran’s nuclear program,” Mr. Shuster said. “However, Israel has a deterrent [to attacks from other countries] in the Middle East. They can destroy anyone there with their nuclear arsenal.” Mr. Shuster continued to explain the using nuclear weapons as deterrents by discussing North Korea. He said, “We don’t know how if they have the bomb. We only know that they have the petroleum…Their strategy is deterrence. Deterrence functions. It functions in the Israeli case.” “After the Soviet Union collapsed [in 1990], the future became uncertain,” Mr. Shuster said. The fall of the Soviet Union led to the collapse of the KJB, the main security force protecting the Soviet nuclear stockpile. “It turned out things were really dangerous in Russia,” Mr. Shuster said. He continued, “By 1994, plutonium and highly-enriched uranium began to go missing into Czechoslovakia and other nations. Since 1994 the US has been spending billions of dollars…to put in place serious and very important types of security in Russia. The threat is still there, but there has been progress made.” Mr. Shuster also spoke about the U.S. decision to invade Iraq based on false information. He said, “We need to listen to everyone who had developed ways about collecting information about these problems before we make any decisions…We need to consider a broad range of information before we take huge steps like [the ones] we have taken in the past few years.” When asked about how he worked in fear of being kidnapped or murdered because he was an American journalist, Mr. Shuster said, “You just figure out ways to protect yourself. It comes with the job.”