Monday, February 19, 2007

Total Nuclear Disarmament: Wishful thinking Vs Realizable Goal

Achieving a world devoid of nuclear weapons is simple.
We just need to track the same steps that we followed. Let’s go back to the first creation of the N-bomb in 1945, the Trinity, developed by the US.
It is a classic case of the US leading by example. Once the US showed the world what it was capable of, the production of Trinity (and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), it didn’t take too long for every other capable country to produce their own. The then USSR, UK, France and a list of states followed suit.
Simple. You have it, why can’t I? And deterrence has been an important rhetoric ever since and their reason for Nuclear arms.
The world’s countries are now racing towards more and more weapons, advancement in their missile technology and trying to outdo each other in the deadly arms race.
If the world (especially the US) is so particular about Iran and North Korea not getting their hands on the weapons, then they have to practice what they preach. Yes, obvious. But the fact that it is obvious does not mean it needs no reiteration.
Lots of arms regulations and Disarmament agreements – Non-proliferation treaty (NPT), Nuclear Weapons Free Zones (NWFZ), Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Partial Test Ban Treaty etc - have been created to one end. Phase out nuclear weapons from the world.
Why is it so hard to understand?
Let’s come to the solution at hand. All we need to do is start with the US. Let the US once again ‘lead by example’. Let the world follow the ‘leader’ but this time instead of creating the N-bombs, let them start disarming, not just dismantling, but complete disarmament.
That means reduction of Active Warheads from their respective nuclear stockpiles. The US and Russia each have more than 5000 active warheads and the UK, France, China, India and Pakistan together boast hundreds of active warheads. It is so ironic because these are the very same countries that talk about spreading peace and prosperity in the world.
Isn’t that the world (civil society, not Governments) wants and needs?
When the US does this, it will no doubt be a Confidence Building Measure (CBM) for every other nation that is a nuclear state or those aspiring to be one. That is why, the first biggest step should be the US’s.
It might seem outrageous to governments, defense analysts and the ‘decision-makers’ of foreign policy to even think of this possibility. But what is actually outrageous is that they don’t get that it’s what the people of the world want. The collective majority.
Now after the Iraq war, the American public image has been so tarnished that it can only be regained by gaining the world’s confidence. The ‘super-power’ image is not something one should strive for, because there is a negative egotistical stigma attached to the word ‘power’ when it applies to countries. And when we want to create a nuclear weapons free world, we can forgo this very word, idea, and concept of who is the biggest power because that in itself can be a major factor in one’s perception of themselves and others.
If the US wants to be loved and embraced by the world, it has to shed its current unilateral stance and be open to truly multilateral endeavors. If it wants to fight terrorism around the world, it should spend more on humanitarian needs and collaborations than (hundreds of billions) on futile wars. It has to understand that terrorism is a concept not a physical entity that can be crushed by brute force.
By complete disarmament, the US can truly gain the world’s trust. These Confidence-Building Measures are the greatest change that can psychologically make other nuclear states like India and Pakistan disarm completely and even stop nuclear aspiring states like North Korea or Iran.
If the US decides to ‘lead by example’ in this case, it can create waves of positive change and can thereby change the course of the arms imbroglio in the long-term.
Though the first logical steps would be to become signatories of the NPT (188 sovereign states), the CTBT (176 states), the possible Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) and many more it would make more sense to also implement a No-Use Treaty. A Treaty of this sort may seem unachievable and infeasible but this should be in the big picture because we have to see ourselves as a world going towards complete nuclear disarmament and peace. This has to come from within, as the world has to realize the impact of long-term security that can arise. Of course, other aspects to be focused on are the conversion of High Enriched Uranium (HEU) to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU), halting the production of plutonium and other fissile material as would be included in the FMCT.

No comments: