The nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima opened a new grisly chapter in warfare – and we have still not closed it.
Even though today more attention is paid to the process of climate change and the risk that human civilisation may be committing a slow suicide, we must not ignore that the number of nuclear weapons – still somewhere near 20,000 – is enough to wipe us out in a quick blast.
For 70 years the world has asked in vain for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. We’ve failed up to this point, so perhaps we should be trying a new approach.
Historically, a ban on use has been a traditional reaction to particularly cruel weapons.
The use of dum-dum bullets was prohibited and the terrible experiences of gas warfare in World War I led to a ban on use through the 1925 Geneva Protocol.
In fact, there was no use of gas weaponry in theatres of war during World War II, but was this because of respect for the prohibition or because states retained stocks of gas and other chemical weapons and any use risked retaliation in kind? We do not know.
Banning nuclear weapons
The International Court of Justice has declared that almost any use of nuclear weapons would be prohibited under already existing international law and some now urge that a convention should be concluded completely banning the use of nuclear weapons.
While nuclear weapons states would be unlikely to join such a convention, and would argue that the approach is not viable, a large number of the remaining states would become party to such a ban, adding to the taboo of any use.
The fear of use remains ever-present and is completely justified so long as any nuclear weapon physically exists anywhere.
Accordingly, we should welcome the movement urging a global goal of zero nuclear weapons.
While that goal may seem too ambitious to some, we should recognise that even at global zero, the genie of knowledge is forever out of the bottle, enabling the production of new weapons.
Only an effective order for international peace and for conflict resolution, comparable to what we have attained within stabilised nations, can give us full assurance.
Bloated nuclear arsenals
Former US President George H W Bush thought he saw the dawning of a new international order when, at his initiative, a United Nations mandated armed intervention ousted Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait in 1991.
During a short period after the end of the Cold War, much progress was also made in arms control and disarmament.
The US and the Soviet Union eliminated whole categories of tactical nuclear weapons and made drastic cuts in their bloated nuclear arsenals.
Today, regrettably, this hopeful evolution is reversed.
President Barack Obama’s drive for broad disarmament and the important 2010 agreement – the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) – that set ceilings for the number of nuclear weapons and carriers that can be deployed in the US and Russia, have been followed by new armed conflicts and tensions – in the Ukraine, in the Middle East, in East Asia, and in Africa
For More: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/08/nuclear-weapons-hiroshima-nagasaki-150805081705264.html