By Fayaz Ganie
During World War- II, allied victory was not certain; any side could have been a victor. Eventually, the allies won the war when the German led axis powers surrendered one by one as the latter powers suffered more damage than the former ones. In fact, there was no victor in this war, or for that matter in the First World War, considering the level of damage and destruction both the sides suffered.
The eventual triumph, if we call this triumph for the sake of argument, was achieved by the surrender of Japan on 15th of August, 1945 not before two atom bombs were dropped on two cities of this country. The first atom bomb codenamed, “Little Boy”, was dropped on Hiroshima on the 6th of August, 1945 by an American B-29 bomber and the second codenamed, “Fat Man”, on Nagasaki three days after on 9th of August by the same type of bomber.
The magnitude of devastation the bombs caused was beyond imagination; never before in human history had such damage been recorded in such a short span of time. The two cities were completely decimated in the blink of an eye. In this short moment, bodies turned into steam and building became ash. Over hundred thousand people perished (105000) and around the same number (94000) were injured, according to Manhattan Engineer District’s figures. The impact of those atom bombs was such that some of their adverse effects are visible even today in those cities.
This is what an atom bomb was capable of doing during the infancy of such bombs, that too when population density was much lesser than that of the present times. The destruction and damage of this magnitude necessitated for the human race to initiate measures to eliminate such weapons from the world. In reality many initiatives have been taken to achieve those ends but to no avail. Unfortunately, after more than seven decades since then, attempts to develop nuclear weapons have not ceased. Instead the attempts have redoubled.
There are untiring attempts on part of all the nuclear weapons possessing countries to enhance the destructive capabilities of such weapons to outwit their adversaries and they have achieved great success towards that end. In respect of outwitting adversaries , it can be said that the one who outwits today gets outwitted tomorrow and the cycle goes on.
These weapons today are hundreds of times more destructive than were the ones used in the year 1945. Some produced after 1945 were even thousands of times more deadly, like the Tsar Bomba produced, and detonated, by the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1961. To be precise it was 3333 times more destructive than the Little Boy mentioned above, giving an impression about how much important it is to reduce, if not totally eliminate, these weapons for the sure and sustainable survival of human race.
According to some experts, nuclear weapons present in the world possess such destructive capabilities that they could not only decimate the earth but the other nearby planets and stars also. This is something which sends shivers down the spines of each sensible person. However, viewing the current state of affairs it seems that the senses of people, at the helm of world affairs and the affairs of many countries, in perceiving the dangers of these weapons are not working. They are engaged in a reinvigorated effort to nuclearize the world, there is a race in which the number of contenders is ever increasing.
The only gain so far credited to nuclear weapons is that they have avoided a major war in the world by their assured mutual destruction capabilities called as nuclear deterrence. This may be true but there is no denying the fact that they have put the humanity on the mountain of volatile matter where any accident or miscalculation could set a fission and then fusion reaction which would signal the end of all the know species of life.
So far, the nations and countries of the world should have devised a suitable mechanism to reduce these weapons and ultimately make the world free from these weapons. But, nothing of that sort has happened, and is happening. The best proof of this is that besides all the nuclear non-proliferation treaties concluded to reduce, and eliminate, nuclear weapons from the world the number of nuclear weapons possessing countries has already crossed a dozen, including the NATO member nuclear weapons sharing states, from one in the year 1945.
There is then no let down in the nuclear weapons race in the world. Some of the countries which had earlier abandoned their nuclear programs have either already restarted them or are on the process of doing so. The expected results from the already conducted treatise are not forthcoming and the hopes of concluding the new ones are getting blurred with the passage of each instant of time. The things in this regard are getting from bad to worse.
No doubt some of the treaties have banned the conduct of nuclear weapons experiments at various places on and around the earth but no positive outcome have been gained. Had these treatises been anyway effective in curbing the stockpiling of nuclear weapons in the world, there would have been no increase in the number of such weapons possessing countries. Moreover, banning the testing of these weapons at some places and leaving the other places open ends up in an incomplete accomplishment of the task. And, the incomplete accomplishment of this task is no accomplishment at all.
The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 left the task unaccomplished by not including the underground nuclear tests in its purview. Different countries of the world took full advantage of this limitation of this treaty and conducted nuclear tests underground and gained the stature of nuclear weapons possessing nations. That is why, nuclear weapons kept increasing and so kept increasing the number of countries possessing such weapons.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) of 1996 which tried to remove the flaw of the Partial Test Ban Treaty and included underground nuclear tests in its purview and intends to ban the conduct of such tests everywhere and by everyone has also been rendered ineffective. It is rendered so because it has not been ratified by all the 44 nuclear facilities possessing countries in the world at the time of negotiations of this treaty. The countries like India, Pakistan and North Korea have even not signed the treaty yet citing one or the other reason. For India, this treaty is partial and discriminatory and Pakistan does not want to sign and ratify it before India does so.
With the advent of North Korea on the scene as a nuclear weapons possessing country, the world is facing a terrifying threat of a nuclear war. This country is daily threatening the United States, the most powerful country in the world, and her allies, with nuclear attacks. Making these threats of serious nature are the missiles that this country fires to send alarming bells ringing in the region and in the world at large.
North Korea is not an economically well off country; her economy is in doldrums and she is the only example of a somewhat closed economy in a more or less, open world. Plus, strict economic and other sanctions against her have further weakened her economy. Even after these limitations, she could develop nuclear weapons at will. This shows how weak and ineffective the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime is. In fact, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is a simple myth. There is proliferation and only proliferation of such weapons so far.
There is another great concern about North Korea producing nuclear weapons and that threat is the nuclear weapons she produces may fall in wrong hands. This country as we all know is flaunting the rules and regulations of the international relations and interactions at will. So if it gets a chance to strike she will not hesitate a bit, she will use any method for that purpose and allowing terrorist excess to her nuclear weapons in all likelihood is a possibility.
The comprehensive test ban treaty could have been used as a vehicle to end that threat and proliferation of these weapons. This treaty actually had some limitations and the nuclear weapons possessing countries at the time of the drafting of this treaty should have worked to remove those faults. They should have displayed their sincerity by taking the responsibilities first, they should have acted as role models but they made it a one sided affair.
There is no room for any further procrastination in the matter; the world has already procrastinated beyond the permissible levels, if there are any permissible levels at all. Time is to realize the urgency of the matter and work inclusively to ensure the safe and secure existence of all the generations to come. Animosity and friendships would remain to fulfill our personal and party interests but only when the world exists. The clock is ticking.
—The author can be reached at: [email protected]