Do We, the Nation, Need Nuclear Weapons?

Nuclear bombs are Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). They  are destructive of all Humanity,  irrespective of gender, caste, creed, race, country, region and religion.  Still the mad nuclear arms race is high on the political agenda of most  neo-cons, super-patriots, religious fanatics and  merchants of  arms dealers. Misguided patriots in India and Pakistan still think of them as ‘the currency of power’.  As David Krieger, of  Nuclear Age Peace Foundation,  rightly said that ‘One bomb could destroy one city (Hiroshima).  A few bombs could destroy a country and a few dozen nuclear bombs could reduce (entire ) civilization to total ruins.’

On 6 August 1945, in total disregard of the basic tenets of science and civilization, the first Atom Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, which created a new war paradigm: destroy an entire city. On 9 August, the second atom bomb destroyed the city of Nagasaki. The sole purpose of creating the nuclear war science was to destroy and dominate other human beings. The Law of War, for 5000 years human history, avoided killing unarmed civilians and women, children, the sick and wounded were always protected.   But at that hour, thousands of wounded soldiers and the sick citizens were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki hospitals. Tens of thousands of unarmed citizens – Buddhist and Christians, irrespective of gender, region and religion were killed instantly.  The law of warfare was thus violated by a technically advanced democratic state that swore In God We Trust and  claimed to follow Christian morality.

So far Japan is the only country which had witnessed the nuclear holocaust. Hospitals, schools, factories, offices, nursing homes, police stations, post-offices, railway stations, fire engines, ambulances, tram cars, moving and stationary vehicles, homes, temples and churches and parks – all were obliterated.  A new word hibakusha, was added to Japanese language, identifying the children born to the 1945 atomic victims. Today, there about 300,000 registered hibakushas under free medical care but marriage with a hibakusha has become a taboo in Japanese society.
The WMDs, in 21st century, are far more advanced than the ones dropped over Japan.  If a nuclear war started today, either by mistake or with intention, there will be no victor, no vanquished. And with Space Age planning it is most likely to spread into outer space.

Notwithstanding Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, there are about 22,000 nuclear warheads mostly in the arsenals of the U.S. and Russia. Operational ready are 8,000 and 2,000 items are on high alert.  Also, there are 14,000 Plutonium cores (pits) and 5000 Canned Assemblies in storages of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU). Moreover, 28 countries are with capacity to build at least one bomb and 12 countries with the capacity to make 20 bombs. Besides, all “peaceful” nuclear power reactors provide rich spent fuel which is reprocessed to produce weapons grade plutonium. According to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, some 500,000 kilograms of plutonium is presently in stockpiles which could be available for sub-nationalists “freedom fighters” of any race or religion. The world Peace is thus at high stake.

Following the recent SAARC Bhutan conference, India and Pakistan ministerial meetings have taken place.  But the nuclear issue has been over shadowed by the Mumbai terrorist attack. Being a frontline client state of America, Pakistan was armed with advanced weapons and jet fighters supplied by USA.  But Islamabad lacks the strategic depth.  And therefore, its nuclear program is India-specific.  Its 70-80 nuclear bombs are specially aimed at Indian strategic locations.

In contrast, New Delhi has strategically stockpiled 80-100 nuclear tipped warheads.  But it had committed to No First Use doctrine. India also has a Credible Nuclear Deterrence policy. That is to be prepared to survive an initial attack and be ready for an overwhelming retaliatory nuclear strike. Admittedly, the deterrence policy may deter an elected government in Pakistan.  But could it deter a jihadi who is on a Divine mission. Would a rapid deployment special N-force be able to pre-empt a suicide bomber who could carry a nuclear device in a lap top cover. India’s traditional “cold start” defence policy and its deterrence doctrine could deter an elected leader in Islamabad.  But the question is for how long can the men of Indian retaliatory force be kept in rapid deployment position inside the secret underground silos.

Admittedly, New Delhi is repeating the folly of the Cold War years when the N- weapons were the currency of power. In 1985, however, the concerned scientists established the Nuclear Nights and Nuclear Winter paradigm, declaring that a nuclear war could not be fought, nor could it be won.

Moscow and Washington, having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty, however, have had faced a very costly complex problem of safe keeping of decommissioned thousands of useless but life-threatening 50,000 nuclear warheads. New Delhi and Islamabad can still stay off the nuclear abyss. The problem however is how to overcome outdated jingoism prevailing on the both sides of our divides. During the Kargil conflict Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had realized the futility of fighting when he declared that NO more We shall unleash a (nuclear) war (Ab Hum Jung na hone denge).   In fact, the overwhelming retaliatory nuclear war preparation had deter both the governments to back off from the nuclear brinkmanship. It is, however, a sad state that there is not enough nuclear debate in the political circles in India and Pakistan.   

Whereas the scientific community appears meek and docile, any whistleblower is suspect. Even in the US, Openheimer was penalized for his opposition to nuclear arms race. In the Soviet Union (then), the Father of Hyderogen Bomb, Andrei Sakharov was imprisoned.  But it was his campaign against the WMDs that eventually guided Mikhail Gorbachev to bring the Cold War to an end.   In the cause of world peace, Dr. Sakharov had challenged the political forces of the Soviet State.  History of Science had recorded the decisive role of Sakharov in formulation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, said George Santayana, the philosopher.  The US President Obama and the Russian President Dmitri Medvedev have signed a MOU to further reduce the stockpiles of nuclear warheads. The Concerned scientists, however, have appealed to the political leaders and governments of all colors and creed to give up the WMDs before it is too late.  It is also a sad reality that the most civilized citizens around the globe still support the nuclear arms race.  The chauvinist belief system is, in fact, based on perception of conventional wars in which civil defense and victory of the powerful was always possible. 

During the cold-war years, therefore, the superpowers had developed extremely elaborate underground civil defence and underground survival mechanism.  There was also an early warning system in place of about 10-15 minutes to both the hostile parties.  But in case of India and Pakistan, due to close proximity of major population centers and 3000 kms open borders, there is lack of strategic depth that offers absolutely no space for an early warning system.  In less than 30 seconds (seconds) short-range missiles, F-16s, and Sukhoi-30 bombers could cover entire strategic locations and the major civic centers, including New Delhi and Islamabad.

Nuclear Path would lead us to no return from the nuclear night and nuclear winter lasting to thousand of years. Still the mad nuclear arms race is high on the agenda of most super-patriots and religious fanatics on both sides of our political divides.  Although the divided we are but a peace and friendship is the only alternative for India and Pakistan.  

On this Hiroshima Day, therefore, we call upon the leaders of India and Pakistan, to “Remember your Humanity and forget the rest”, says the  Russell-Einstein Manifesto.  We appeal to Indian Parliament to declare the entire South Asian sub-continent Nuclear Weapons -Free Zone. If India takes this step, Pakistan shall have no choice.    


More by :  Dhirendra Sharma

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