As the United States of America, Iran and North Korea play the deadly game of nuclear arms race, there is no better time to remind the world that in the event of a nuclear cataclysm, there will not be any winner. Humanity will be the loser. As the United Nations marks the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, we urge all nations to take those decisions that are necessary to save the situation that would definitely be worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japanese cities that were used to test the effect of such high voltage weapons.
The world body had set aside 26 September of every year as a time to remind the world to commit to Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. It behoves the member states to treat the issue with the urgency it deserves. This Day, the world must realise, provides an opportunity to highlight the need to eliminate nuclear weapons and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them.
By UN records, there are not less than 17,000 Nuclear Weapons Worldwide. These are not toys for computer games but explosive devices with a destructive power that comes from nuclear energy being released. The anxiety that the United Nations harbours stems from the fact that more than half of the world’s population live in countries that have nuclear weapons or are members of nuclear alliances.
Perhaps, it is cogent to dramatise the destructive effect of this substance in question in a manner that will clear all doubts regarding the urgency of halting its proliferation if not total elimination. Scientists posit that one single nuclear device has the capability to destroy a whole city and eliminate the natural environment and lives of future generations. The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan during the Second World War was not, by contemporary scientific measurements, a nuclear bomb. Yet it had the murderous effect on at least 150,000 people.
For the moment, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) contains the only binding commitment to nuclear disarmament in a multilateral treaty. It became international law in 1970 at the time when there were only five nuclear weapon states: China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the USSR. Since then, India, Israel, and Pakistan have developed nuclear weapons. North Korea has proved with her recent tests to have acquired nuclear capability. Iran has been playing hide and seek in this macabre drama. The danger is that these five states are not party to the Treaty already ratified by 190 governments.
Historically, the treaty was intended as a temporary statute. Its terms stipulate that 25 years after entry into force, a conference will be convened to decide whether or not it will continue indefinitely, or be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. In 1995, this conference was convened, and a package of decisions extended the Treaty indefinitely. Five years later, at the 2000 Review Conference all 187 governments – including the five official nuclear weapon states – agreed to 13 practical steps for the systematic and progressive disarmament of the world’s nuclear weapons. At the 2005 Review Conference, state- parties could not agree on a final document, and the five week-long conference was considered to be a failure. In 2010, state- parties adopted a 64-point action plan in order to move forward. However, their fulfilment of this action plan, in particular the disarmament requirements, is so far significantly lacking.
On March 4-5, 2013, at a conference in the Norwegian city of Oslo, and for the first time ever, governments, international organizations, and civil society addressed the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. The meeting was considered a huge success, with the participation of 128 governments, UN agencies, international organizations, and civil society. Evidence was presented on the immediate impact of a nuclear weapon detonation and governments and relief agencies alike concluded that no adequate humanitarian response would be possible.
Again in Nayarit, Mexico from 13-14 February, 2014, the world met again to discuss the global and long-term consequences of a nuclear detonation from the perspective and variables of the 21st century society. There have been other meetings on the same issue since then. But with what is trending around the world at this present time, it is obvious that the lessons of World War II were not learnt. And that, indeed, is unfortunate. The greatest danger, in our opinion, is the possibility of this weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorist groups that are mushrooming all over. They are not bound by the dictates of this Treaty. The thought of that alone should alarm the world to drop rhetoric and face reality.