Towards Universal Nuclear Disarmament

NuclearDisarmamentUniversal nuclear disarmament is urgently needed to ensure peace and prosperity of the world. If the current generation of the world leaders are giving good life for the present and future generations nuclear disarmament should be immediately enforced.
President Barack Obama has created optimism about the future of nuclear disarmament by calling for a “reset” in relations with Russia, which would
include significant cuts in the size of the nuclear arsenals that both nations possess. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty between the US and Russia is due to expire in December this year. While this treaty allows both sides to possess up to 2,200 warheads and 1,600 delivery vehicles, Obama would like to see these figures whittled down to 1,500 warheads carried on 500 to 1,000 delivery vehicles. Even more interestingly, Obama has set out a vision for a world rid entirely of nuclear weapons.

During the Cold War the US and the USSR armed themselves to the teeth with nuclear forces on hair-trigger alert, provoking the nightmare spectre of a threat to humanity’s existence itself in case of a nuclear exchange between the two superpowers. With the end of the Cold War, mutually assured destruction mutated into a new kind of threat. Nuclear weapons became a currency of power and nations became determined to acquire them. This enhances the possibility of leakages to non-state actors, whether by design or accident. Nuclear bombs, in fact, could become the ultimate terrorist weapon of blackmail.

Responding to this new situation, even former nuclear hawks such as Henry Kissinger have been calling for universal nuclear disarmament as a means of warding off the threat of nuclear proliferation. It’s an idea that Rajiv Gandhi also mooted in a speech to the UN General Assembly in June 1988. The thing about disarmament, though, is that it has to be mutually coordinated across nations. India, for example, cannot unilaterally disarm if Pakistan and China retain their nuclear weapons.

Although climate change is more on the global agenda nowadays, nuclear disarmament poses similar issues. Acting on either would require many nations undertaking simultaneous actions. Yet ignoring them can have catastrophic consequences not limited by national boundaries. In both senses they are global issues which require, among other things, consciousness-raising by media across the world. In May 2009, The Times of India Online received the highest number of hits among English newspaper websites in the world, placing it much ahead of The New York Times or The Sun. Moreover it’s a brand with global reach, as 65 per cent of TOI Online’s readers come from outside India. This newspaper can, and will, play its role in alerting people across the world to the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation and ways in which the spread of such weaponry can be reversed.


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