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In Search of Defense Against Nuclear Weapons
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Dr (Mrs) Vishiesh Verma | Date:07 Aug , 2016 0 Comments
Dr (Mrs) Vishiesh Verma
is a former Reader Coordinator of University of Jammu.

“War is the work of man/war is destruction of human life/war is death. To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future/To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war/ Inscription on the monument commemorative Pope John Paul II’s appeal for peace.

August 6 is celebrated as Hiroshima Peace Day and August 9 as Nagasaki Peace Day to remind the world that never again in history should such horror be re-enacted.

In 1955, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein issued their famous manifesto seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons and appealing to all inhabitants of planet Earth: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest. Mankind is faced with a clear-cut alternative: either we shall all perish, or we shall have to acquire some slight degree of common sense. A great deal of new political thinking will be necessary if utter disaster is to be averted.” In 1957, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto led to the birth of the Pugwash conference on science and world affairs an organization devoted to ending the nuclear peril and reminding scientists of their ethical responsibilities for the consequences of their discoveries particularly in the area of nuclear threat to human survival.

The movement for a total ban on testing of nuclear weapons was taken up in India by a group led by C.Rajagopalachari in 1962 he and his group was received by Khrushch in Moscow and by Kennedy in Washington DC. They also called on Secretary General U Thant at the UN headquarters in New York. All this propaganda against nuclear testing led to the formulation of the partial Test Ban Treaty, which was signed by the US the USSR and the UK.

The seventh Review Conference of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) held in 2005 in New York ended in a deadlock. The five original Nuclear weapon states (the United States, Russia, The United Kingdom, France and China) showed themselves unwilling to take decisive action to implement their obligations under Article VI of the NPT to move decisively towards the irreversible elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

The role Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru played in mobilizing scientific opinion against nuclear weapons is unforgettable. Early in 1954, he called “for setting up of a committee of scientists to explain to the world the effects a nuclear war would have on the humanity. This idea was taken up by Joseph Rotblat, who was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 1995, and Eugene Robinowitch resulting in the organisation of the Pugwash Conference on science and world affairs. Pt Nehru was also the first foreign Prime Minister to visit Hiroshima. He praised the atom bomb survivors for their determination to spread around the globe information on the enormous harm radiation can cause to both the present population and to the generations yet to be born.

Nehru played a major part in getting the first UNO conference on the peaceful uses of Atomic Energy organized in Geneva in 1955. This conference was chaired by the late Homi Bhabha, the then chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission who outlined in his presidential address a strategy for harnessing the multiple contributions that nuclear tools can make to strengthen food, health and energy in the world.

US President John F. Kennedy offered to help India detonate a nuclear device much before China did in 1964. But Indian PM Jawahar Lal Nehru refused the offer. Kennedy was one of the most pro India of US presidents who sought to empower democratic India vis-a-vis Maoist China which he saw as a grave danger to the free world. Nehru on the other hand was enough of a pacifist who was vehemently against nuclear tests and nuclear weapons. He had fought the British to win independence with non-violent methods. Since independence India has consistently pursued the goal of global disarmament based on the principles of Universality, non-discrimination and effective compliance.

J.L.Nehru told the Lok Sabha on July 24,1957; We have declared quite clearly that we are not  interested in making atom bombs, even if we have the capacity to do so, and that in no event will we use atomic energy for destructive purposes. I am quite sure that when I say this, I represent every member of this house. I hope that will be the policy of all future Governments of India.

Indira Gandhi declared in the Lok Sabha on April 24 1968: “We think that nuclear weapons are no substitute for military preparedness involving the conventional weapons. The choice before us involves not only the question of making a few Atom bombs but of engaging in an arms race with sophisticated nuclear warheads and an effective missile delivery system, such a course, I don’t think, would strengthen national security. On the other hand it may well endanger our internal security by imposing a very heavy burden. This policy of being against nuclear bombs has continued later, as late as March 21, 1996.

Humankind has been able to avoid another nuclear catastrophe over the past many years, probably as much because of good fortune as any special effort to prevent it. Apart from the risks of human error there are other real dangers lurking. Terrorists are looking for nuclear materials and technical knowledge; and there can be little doubt that they will use the weapon if they can get one. More than 50 countries have nuclear weapon material and not all of it is secure, with globalization and the information revolution the wherewithal to built weapons is relatively easy to access today.

The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki do not seem to have taught the world’s political and military elite any lessons. The nuclear age ushered in over seven decades of the cold war and an arms race. At the peak, the nuclear weapon states have accumulated over 70,000 warheads which posses the explosive power to destroy a million Hiroshimas, or the earth itself fifty times over.

India and Pakistan have conducted nuclear tests. It is said these tests are meant not for aggression but for national security. It is quite shocking that the great religious personalities such as Dalai Lama and Shankar Charya of Kanchi and Dwarka have expressed satisfaction at the Pokhran experiments. Both countries celebrate the success of the tests. Their leaders accuse each others of provocative statements and assure their people that they are fully prepared to deal firmly with any threat from the other. India and Pakistan have been under pressure to sign the CTBT without reservations. Nuclear weapons of both the countries pose a threat to international peace and security. India and Pakistan can’t sign without China doing the same and China will not give up its weapons unless US, Russia, Britain, and France agree to it. How   does nuclear testing ensure national security? 

Take this case: someone who dislikes me possesses a knife, For my security, I buy a more powerful weapon, this creates tension. Instead of this, if I had tried to love him, despite him trying to harm me, he will ultimately become my friend. If this approach is possible on an individual level, why can’t it be applied at the national level? We understand that the poverty can be eradicated with just 10% of amount spent on arms and research for destructive ends. So why have we not given priority to eradication of poverty. The countries with weak economy can’t buy greater security with the help of nuclear bombs. Much of their vital resources needed for meeting basic needs of the people get diverted to making bombs, ultimately making the countries poor.

Is it not a shame that our two ‘spiritual countries’ instead of advising other countries on disarmament have been reduced to being advised and ‘warned’? It is on record that Prime Minister Vajpayee and Pakistan’s President had an unusual Joint invitation from Mayor of Hiroshima, who wanted the two leaders to visit the Japanese cities together to see with their own eyes what nuclear weapons have in store for humanity.

A nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could result in deaths as high as 1.2 billion. Let us heed what an aging ‘Hibakusha’ (survivor of atomic explosions) had to say: “There is only one way to end this threat and that is to abolish these weapons. Either nuclear weapons must be abolished or human beings face the threat of extinction by weapons of their own creation.

Einstein once said that the next world war will be fought with stones. Winston Churchil predicted, “The dark ages may return, the Stone Age may return in the gleaming wings of science, and what might now shower immeasurable material blessings upon mankind, may even bring about its total destruction. Beware, I say ; Time may be short. Do not let us take the course of allowing events to drift along until it is too late. There is the path of wisdom. Prevention is better than the cure”.   Let Hiroshima’s Tragic Past Not be World’s Future. 


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