Why we should raise our voice against nuclear proliferation

Arafat-Al-Yeasin | Published: 00:00, Jun 09,2019


The Japanese artist Hashimoto has prepared a video where you can see the different nuclear tests since 1945. It looks like a videogame, but it´s not. Fortunately, with the end of the cold war, the United States and Russia agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals as well as their means of delivery. The conclusion of this entire story is, ‘We definitely must stop the nuclear weapons proliferation’, writes Arafat-Al-Yeasin

Humans keep developing more and more powerful weapons. Iron weapons beat the bronze ones and artillery made walls and armors unnecessary. Today, with airplanes, satellites, submarines, missiles we have completely changed the way of our defense systems and dynamics of war.

In fact, military innovation has produced technological advances, but it all has a limit. The destructive effect of weapons has enforced rules to limit their use, their production and their storage. This is necessary if we don't want the planet to be destroyed.

Mass destructive weapons can be biological, bacteriological, chemical, radiological and nuclear. But the biggest problems are nuclear weapons, due to their destructive power and because thousands of such weapons were accumulated in an insane rat-race among superpowers after the end of WWII.

During the 60s, 70s, 80s western art, music and civil movements took their stand against nuclear weapons. Well, the real challenge today is, from the already nuclear weapon powered nations (mainly USA and its allies), to keep North Korea or Iran from carrying on with their programs of massive destruction weapons, and also, to keep terrorist groups from taking them.

A nuclear crisis in Korea or elsewhere in the world would be a real tragedy, and it would definitely affect globalisation, trade and our lifestyle, after all. Now, the problem is quite complex and we should analyse it from a global perspective.

There are international rules to limit the acquisition of nuclear weapons. These rules are classified in two different categories. The first, The Horizontal Non-Proliferation, meant to prevent countries, which don't have any of these weapons from obtaining them. And the Vertical Non-Proliferation — the states already in possession of nuclear weapons, especially the US and Russia limit the number of weapons or even reduce their arsenals.

In the early 60s, it was estimated that, by the year 2000, around 20 countries could hold nuclear weapons. Many countries like Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Spain or Sweden had the capacity to develop these weapons. However, very few states are in possession of nuclear weapons today.

Well, this is what the NTP has achieved since 1968. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty established that the five permanent members of the Security Council — United States of America, the then Soviet Union, China, France and the United Kingdom — were the only nuclear powers and it forbade other states from acquiring those weapons.

In exchange, the members of the nuclear club, the five nuclear powers, would commit to help the rest of the countries to develop nuclear energy for civil purposes.

However, with time and despite all of this, some countries have succeeded in becoming nuclear powers. Today, besides the five powers previously mentioned, four more countries have nuclear weapons — Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

Then there's Iran, who also tried. We all probably know, during the Ahmadinejad administration, Iran tried to get one of these bombs, and this would have meant a sure threat both for Israel and the entire region of the Middle East and a serious concern for the USA.

But the international community took action to fight that possibility and the sanctions received by the security council of the United Nations, The United States and the European Union damaged the gas and oil exports and hurt Iran really badly.

All that international pressure had an impact in the next elections and Rouhani became the president of the country, who was a more moderate candidate. After very harsh negotiations in 2015, they reached an agreement in which Iran stopped its nuclear agenda and the rest of the countries would lift sanctions on exports, which were good news in a country like Iran where lack of exports were so damaging for its economy.

As of North Korea, we don't know exactly which weapon does Korea own, although some estimation calculates from 10 to 20 nuclear war-heads. Though they are reported to be unsophisticated missiles and bombs, but powerful enough to trigger a severe crisis.

North Korea has escaped the international pressure by operating underground nuclear tests and launching missiles. For this reason, the UN security council has strengthened the penalty system for North Korea after the last underground detonation in September 2016. The press has even dared to speculate a possible military preventive action against North Korea from Trump's administration.

However, American experts are warning that this military action could trigger a military reaction with both massive destruction weapons as well as conventional means. A war in the Korean Peninsula would mean a human catastrophe and it would negatively affect the world's economy, but it would affect its neighbours particularly — China, South Korea and Japan. And the mere existence of this war threat could lead to a terrifying arms race in the region and it could even make Japan take exceptional measures.

As for the vertical non-proliferation, during the cold war, the USA and the Soviet Union developed more, better and powerful weapons in a creepy nuclear race. Each country needed to have more and better weapons than the other, so they stored thousands and thousands of nuclear warheads. They also multiplied their means of delivery, bombardiers, missiles, submarines to an extent nobody could have ever imagined.

The arms race reached an amount of 65,000 nuclear warheads around 1985 between these two war monger nations, enough to destroy the earth quite a few times.

In those years, there were many tests with nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, in the sea, in space and sometimes, whether intentionally or not, they used people as guinea pigs to analyse the effects of radioactivity in humans. Isn't it terrible?

The Japanese artist Hashimoto has prepared a video where you can see the different nuclear tests since 1945. It looks like a videogame, but it´s not. Fortunately, with the end of the cold war, the United States and Russia agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals as well as their means of delivery.

With President Obama, in April 2010, the New Start Treaty was signed in Prague. This treaty aimed to limit strategic weapons, so each country would ‘only’ hold 1,500 nuclear bombs by the year 2018. Too many bombs still. There are also other rules to limit missiles and means of delivery and, of course, in no way can they conduct more nuclear tests. The CTBT is a treaty which completely forbids any nuclear tests. No more tests have been carried out since 1998, with the exception of North Korea.

Anyway, the conclusion of this entire story is yes, we definitely must stop the nuclear weapons proliferation of Iran or North Korea and we definitely have to prevent terrorist groups from laying their hands on these destruction means. But, the nuclear arsenals still existing in the US and Russia should also keep reducing because, among other things, the risk of misuse and lack of control of these weapons is always there.

In the world we inhabit today, interdependent and globalised, wars make no sense. US president John Fitzgerald Kennedy was a pioneer in the search of peace and nuclear disarmament. In a world dominated by nuclear weapons, Kennedy refused to conduct any nuclear tests in the atmosphere and he was criticised for that in his own country.

However, we could have avoided so much suffering, waste of money, so many problems if the world had listened Kennedy´s ideas on nuclear weapons.

Arafat-Al-Yeasin a student of University of Dhaka.

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