The existence of nuclear weapons is an ugly symbol of the violent consciousness that plagues humanity. Despite tremendous technological advancements, developments in health care and wonders of creative expression, little of note has changed in humanity’s collective consciousness: Tribalism, idealism and selfish desire persist, negative tendencies that under the pervasive socio-economic systems are exacerbated and encouraged. People and nations are set in competition with one another, separation and mistrust is fed, leading to disharmony, fear and conflict.
Such engineered insecurity is used as justification for nations to maintain a military force, and in the case of the world’s nuclear powers, arm themselves with weapons that, if used, would destroy all life, human and sub-human alike. Despite this, unlike biological and chemical weapons, landmines and cluster munitions, possession of nuclear weapons is not prohibited under international law, although launching them would, according to CND, breach a plethora of conventions and declarations.
Sustainable security is not created through threats and the cultivation of fear, but by building relationships, cooperating and establishing trust. As long as nuclear weapons exist there is a risk of them being used, of an accident – and there have been many close shaves since 1948 – and subsequent annihilation. As the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANW) rightly states, “Prohibiting and completely eliminating nuclear weapons is the only guarantee against their use.”
The rational thing to do is to move towards a nuclear free world and with some urgency; this necessarily entails the nuclear powers disarming, either unilaterally or bilaterally. Someone has to begin the process; by taking the moral initiative others will be under pressure to follow, whereas, as former US Secretary of State George Shultz put it, “proliferation begets proliferation.”
Clearing the world of these monstrous machines would not only be a major step in safeguarding humanity and the planet, it would represent a triumph of humane principles of goodness – peace, unity, cooperation – over hate, suspicion and discord.
There can be little doubt that the vast majority of people and nations in the world would like nuclear weapons to be decommissioned, it is the Governments of some of the most powerful countries that stand as obstacles to common-sense and progress: Corporate-State governments motivated not by a burning desire to help create a peaceful world at ease with itself, but driven by self-interest, pressure from financial investors and the demands of the arms-industry.
Towards the end of 2016, the United Nations general assembly adopted a landmark resolution to begin to “negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” Talks began in February this year, when the first leg of a two stage conference was held in New York; 123 nations voted to outlaw them, while the nine nuclear powers (USA, China, France, Britain, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea), rather predictably stood in opposition to a ban and voted against the proposal, as did nuclear host and alliance countries such as Belgium, Italy, Croatia and Norway, among others: Shame on them all. These obstructive governments do not represent the wishes of their populations, their motives are corrupt, their actions irresponsible.
It’s interesting to note that the countries that possess nuclear weapons seem to believe it’s fine for them to have these tools of destruction, but not for other nations, particularly those that have a different world view. Between them, these nine nations boast around 15,000 nuclear weapons; America and Russia own 93% of the total of which some 1,800 are reportedly kept on ‘high-alert status’, meaning they can be launched within minutes. Just one of these warheads, if detonated on a large city, could kill millions of people, with the effects persisting for decades.
Modern nuclear weapons are a great deal smaller and many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, which, far from ending the war, was completely unnecessary, and caused death and destruction on a scale hitherto unseen.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘Nuclear Weapons:
Barbaric Tools of Insecurity’.