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And What Aabout Global Denuclearization ?

By S Faizi

26 october, 2006

The world has just renewed the agonizing memory of the American savagery in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet there was the disturbing absence of the call for global denuclearization from any of the international players or from the United Nations. The overwhelming majority of nations that participated in the formulation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) 1968 while doing so had in mind the goal of total elimination of nuclear weapons from the world just as well as non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy. This desire for total nuclear disarmament under strict and effective international control was explicitly stated in the preamble of NPT, and the operational article VI of the Treaty obliges each contracting Party to pursue negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

The obvious injustice contained in the Treaty that countries- that had developed nuclear weapons before 1967 alone can have such weapons- was tolerated by the non-weapon States on the condition that total elimination of nuclear weapons would be pursued as a critical goal of the Treaty. Remember, this is a treaty that does not even give an assurance to the non-weapons Parties who are required to abstain from nuclear weapons development that the nuclear Parties would not use this weapon of mass destruction against them. This is the only multilateral treaty developed in the post-colonial period that replicated the anti-democratic veto power of the same five countries in the UN Security Council in the decision making of the Conference of Parties on amendments to the Treaty’s text. The only incentive for the developing world in ratifying this grossly discriminatory treaty was the possibility of removing the nuclear threat, the possibility of averting a repeat of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, through multilateral negotiations. But the global community’s goal of denuclearization has been rendered ineffective by the same country that has ever terrorized the world with the dastardly use of nuclear bombs and yet seeks to prescribe punishment for countries that it decides are attempting to develop the same weapon.

The second half of the past decade witnessed some diplomatic initiatives to set the course for implementing Article VI of NPT. In agreeing to indefinitely extend the Treaty at the 1995 Review Conference, the developing world had hoped to seek the implementation of Article VI for removing the frightening prospect of another Hiroshima or Nagasaki. In a landmark verdict in 1996 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) opinioned that the threat of use or use of nuclear weapons was illegal and called upon the Parties to NPT to fulfill their obligation to undertake negotiations for the elimination of nuclear weapons. It should be noted that India’s mission to the UN, lead by M H Ansari, had played a key role in getting the General Assembly pass the resolution requesting the ICJ for an opinion on the legality of the threat of use and use of nuclear weapons. This entire process and its fall outs, assiduously sidelined by the western corporate media, have been benefited by an intense campaign by civil society organizations, significantly, lead by American groups.

Following the ICJ verdict the General Assembly passed a strongly worded resolution recognizing the grave threat posed by nuclear weapons to all humanity and called for the development of a Nuclear Weapons Convention to eliminate these weapons of mass destruction through negotiations. This resolution, passed after protracted negotiations, was opposed only by the US, its equally militarist partner Israel, and Russia. Regretting the progress in implementing this 1977 resolution, the General Assembly passed a follow up resolution in 1999, again by an overwhelming majority, which called upon States to commence negotiations on the Nuclear Weapons Convention in 2000. This resolution had reaffirmed the central role of the Conference on Disarmament, pertinently not IAEA, in pursuing negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

This momentum has however been lost in the subsequent years, with the US fortifying its imperial might. India’s own abandonment of its legacy as a long time campaigner of global denuclearization is symptomatic of the metamorphosis of the country’s ruling elite into faithful devotees of the American juggernaut. Global denuclearization was not raised even as a tactical negotiation point in the bilateral nuclear agreement that officially turned India into another client State of the US.

The harrowing experience David Lange had to undergo in making and steadfastly keeping New Zealand nuclear free, narrated in his book Nuclear Free New Zealand, is telling of the ferocity with which the US pursues its nuclear goal beyond its territories. Its agenda of selective implementation of the grossly discriminatory NPT stands against the spirit of even this skewed treaty, and has turned the world into a dangerous place. A country that has clandestinely helped the racist South Africa and Israel to acquire nuclear weapons, and is stockpiling enough weapons in its arsenal to destroy the world a dozen times is lecturing down to countries in the developing world on the virtues of abandoning their real or imaginary nuclear programs, though such programs in themselves are an unadulterated obscenity in countries plagued by poverty. Forcing South Africa to eliminate its nuclear weapons when the country became free and democratic had vividly bared the deeply racist nuclear doctrine of US and its western allies.

The world, however, cannot wait for too long to eliminate these horrendous weapons of mass destruction. A people’s movement cutting across national boundaries and the North-South divide alone can force the recalcitrant nations to begin negotiations for creating a world free from the terror of nuclear weapons. As the essential first step the nuclear-weapon Parties should, as demanded by the Non-Aligned Movement, provide unconditional and legally binding assurance to the non-weapon Parties that these weapons would not be used against them.

The promise of an infernal world is a promise too lethal. The smile of nuclear bombs must be extinguished for ever. The smile of their makers too.

S Faizi R2, Saundarya Apartments, Nandavanam, Thiruvananthapuram
[email protected] Tel: 91-471-2320219

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