The history of violence is as old as the history of mankind. The powerful have always exploited the weak. Men have killed their fellow men with different tools in differed phases of history. This urge of man to dominate others has continued even up till today.
In 1945, the United States trespassed all limits and dropped two atomic bombs on two cities of Japan, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than 120,000 people were killed on the spot. After this cruel act, Japan’s Emperor Hirohito had to publicly surrender in World War II. It is said that the US had only two atomic bombs at that time. After seeing her victory over the deaths of the Japanese, the United States started to make more nuclear bombs, and other countries followed this path of mutually assured destruction or rather, nuclear devastation.
Today, around 15,000 nuclear weapons are ready to distort the visage of the earth. Only two countries, Russia and the United States have 1,800 nuclear weapons that are ready to use. The possibility of mistakes cannot be brushed aside. These deadly weapons can wipe out the entire human civilization within moments. The scale of damage will be too high as their deadliness has been increased. The present nuclear weapons are far more powerful than those atom bombs dropped on Japan in 1945. In case a Third World War is fought and nuclear weapons are used in it, there are fears that no one would live on earth to celebrate victory or mourn over defeat.
The challenge the world faces is big. While there are those who want to make the world a safe place, the desire for atomic power is unlimited. The countries having the required capability are making nuclear warheads on a massive scale. The US, a champion of human rights, has 7,200 nuclear warheads in its arsenal. Russia is on the top with 7,500 similar weapons. The UK, which has a long history of democracy, has 215 warheads. France, a center of art and culture, has 300 warheads.
The fragrance of Paris attracts tourists from every corner of the earth. But who knew that the country in which this vibrant city is located has the capacity to fill the atmosphere with the unbearable smell of burning flesh and rotting dead bodies? Its nuclear warheads are more dependent on submarines.
China is the only country whose 260 warheads are deliverable by air, sea and land. The biggest democracy in the world-India, has 120 warheads. India and Pakistan have fought three deadly wars in the past. The fourth war between both these countries could start on the issue of the disputed territory of Kashmir anytime. This war would be different from the other three wars that were fought in the past. If India drops the atomic bomb on Pakistan, then in retaliation, Pakistan can use 130 warheads. Allegations have also been made by the US in the past that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could go into the hands of terrorists. It cites examples where terrorists have made entry into highly guarded military establishments and destroyed sensitive defence equipment including surveillance aircrafts to back its claim. On the other hand, Pakistan strongly denies these claims and states that their nuclear warheads are in safe hands and there is no risk of them falling into the wrong ones.
So, the challenge is how to convince the nuclear powers to cap their nuclear programmes and ideally, destroy their arsenals. The question is: will India or Pakistan be ready to do this? For that matter, what about Israel? This becomes even more difficult when these weapons are taken as a deterrent for enemies by their possessors. For example, in Pakistan, the political elite and the army claim that they have saved the country from armed invasion by enemies. The countries with hawkish attitudes like Israel and North Korea have 80 and 10 nuclear warheads respectively.
Against this backdrop, what I want to say is, only 9 out of the 192 countries of the world have created such destructive weapons. Had the logic of their being a gurantee of peace and safety against enemy attack been true, the remaining countries would also have joined the mad race. But fortunately, they did not. What needs to be supported and backed is that these weapons are a continuous threat for the people of our globe. Countries focussing on these weapons tend to shift their attention from the basic issues and fundamental rights of people to armament.
Studies show that even if half the amount spent on weapons had been spent on people’s welfare, the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on poverty alleviation 2015 would have been achieved long ago.
Therefore, the course of action should be that the world should ban the development of nuclear weapons and a consensus should be built with the involvement of civil society. The United Nations General Assembly has voted in favour of making the the world free from nuclear weapons and now it is the matter of what methods to adopt to achieve this end.
No doubt, the highly publicized terrorism perpetrated by individuals and religious/sectarian violence is nothing in comparison to the threat of nuclear expolosions which can instantly transform the whole globe into ashes. The point to stress at the moment is that no nation should try to dominate other nations by building a nuclear arsenal. Live and let others live should be the principle objective, because all human beings have an equal right to life.