Today, September 26, is the day set aside by the international community to call attention to the urgency implicit in the effort to eliminate, totally, nuclear arsenal of whatever description. That urgency is whipped up by the threat terrorism poses to humanity. At the peak of the Cold War and the arms race that went with it, the world was at its tether’s end, almost consumed by fright that some crazy character might push the button just to know what nuclear effect is actually like.
There were talks about détente, the easing of tension among nations; Strategic Arms Limitation Treaties (SALT 1and2). At the time these efforts were on, the nuclear powers had reached a level that was then known as a balance of terror, which meant that the acquisition of nuclear weapons had reached a stage where it will not be usable without destroying humanity as we know it.
What scared most people, including the nuclear powers, was the effect of the use of Atomic Bomb in 1945 when the Allied Powers, led by the United States of America, used the weapon of mass destruction on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two Japanese cities. At that time, there was an attempt to justify such heinous act by suggesting that it ended the Second World War. Maybe. But at what cost? However, it encouraged restraint to this day. But with heartless terrorists prowling around intent on inflicting maximum damage? Nuclear weapons in their hands is a grim prospect that should mobilise everyone to do away with them before they get into the wrong hands.
Already, there are currently 14,000 nuclear weapons in the world. The nine countries that possess these weapons include: Russia, United States of America, France, China and the United Kingdom. Others are Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea. Russia is believed to have the most nuclear warheads with 6,850. The United States is close behind with 6,550.
As the international community marks this Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, countries around the world are encouraged to reaffirm their commitment to nuclear disarmament. It is in everybody’s interest. And the reason is not far to seek.
Nuclear weapons are considered the most dangerous weapons on earth. They have such an intense explosive power that they can cause damage in faraway places. Besides wiping out entire cities, nuclear weapons have the potential to kill millions of people. The long-term effects of nuclear weapons are catastrophic. They jeopardize the environment and the lives of future generations.
The United Nations (UN) recognises the danger implied in an unconscionable acquisition of nuclear weapons. The world body sees its elimination as a key guarantee to world peace. It is in appreciation of this inexorable fact that it holds various events in order to educate people around the world about the importance of eliminating nuclear weapons. On this day, it seeks to spread awareness about the threat nuclear weapons pose to humanity. It is the goal of the UN that education and awareness will mobilize countries to get rid of their nuclear weapons.
People are admonished that one of the ways to observe the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is to learn about how detrimental these weapons are to humanity. This entails educating oneself on how they pose a threat to the environment.
Historically, and through the years, the United Nations has made many resolutions to eliminate nuclear weapons. In 1946, the UN created the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) to eliminate atomic weapons and all other weapons capable of mass destruction. In 1996, the UN created the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Although signed, these treaties have yet to be enforced.
In 2009, the UN declared August 29 as the International Day against Nuclear Energy Tests. In 2013, during a meeting on nuclear disarmament, the UN marked September 26 as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. To help make this a reality, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was signed in 2017. The treaty has yet to be enforced
It is pertinent to note that the UN’s effort is not being encouraged by the nuclear powers who decide not to enforce the resolutions adopted and the treaties signed. It is from this perspective that this newspaper expresses its concern regarding the intentions of the nuclear powers who insist on producing and stockpiling these weapons ignoring the fears and anxieties of the UN and ordinary people just to demonstrate how powerful they are. More importantly is how that power can be deployed to dictate and manipulate world affairs especially as they affect less powerful nations.
As things are, only moral suasion can make any impact if at all. We implore the UN not to relent in its determination to see to the total elimination of these weapons of mass destruction. Humanity depends on it realisation.