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The most catastrophic threat to humanity

26 September 2020 12:20 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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While world attention is focused on the Covid-19 pandemic which thankfully is under control in Sri Lanka though a second wave appears to be emerging in the United States and some parts of Europe, less attention is being given to another threat that could destroy the world within minutes. This is the threat of nuclear weapons. While the nine countries which posses nuclear weapons have been negotiating non-proliferation treaties, the United Nations and others including Pope Francis have been repeatedly calling for nuclear disarmament. They seek this because in the nuclear-powered countries a leader, in a moment of insanity, could activate the nuclear code and destroy the world. World political analysts say such a catastrophe is possible and they cite the case of the current US President Donald Trump who is widely seen as being dangerously unpredictable with his latest thunderbolt coming this week when he said he may not accept the results of the November 3 presidential election if he believes the polls are not free and fair. Award-winning journalist Carl Bernstein has accused Mr. Trump of being a criminal because of the way he mishandled or down played the COVID-19 pandemic.


Today, the UN marks the international day for the total elimination of nuclear weapons. In a statement, the UN says, achieving global nuclear disarmament is one of the oldest goals of the UN. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. This established the Atomic Energy Commission. It was dissolved in 1952 with a mandate to make specific proposals for the control of nuclear energy, the elimination of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction. 

 
The UN says it has been at the forefront of many major diplomatic efforts to advance nuclear disarmament. In 1959, the general assembly endorsed the objective of general and complete disarmament. In 1978, the general assembly’s first special session on disarmament, further recognised that nuclear disarmament should be the priority objective in the field of disarmament. Every UN Secretary-General has actively promoted this goal. 

 
Yet, today around 13,400 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernise their nuclear arsenals. More than half of the world’s population still lives in countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. While the number of deployed nuclear weapons has appreciably declined since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty. In addition, no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway, the UN points out. 

 
Meanwhile, the doctrine of nuclear deterrence persists as an element in the security policies of all possessor states and many of their allies. The international arms-control framework that contributed to international security since the Cold War, acted as a brake on the use of nuclear weapons and advanced nuclear disarmament, has come under increasing strain. On August 2, 2019, the United States’ withdrawal spelled the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, through which the US and Russia had previously committed to eliminating an entire class of nuclear missiles. The treaty between the US and Russia on measures for the further reduction and limitation of strategic offensive arms will expire in February next year. Should this treaty not be extended, as provided for in its articles, or expire without a new treaty, it will be the first time the world’s two largest strategic nuclear arsenals have been unconstrained since the 1970s.   


Frustration has been growing among Member States regarding what is perceived as the slow pace of nuclear disarmament. This frustration has been put into sharper focus with growing concerns about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of even a single nuclear weapon, let alone a regional or global nuclear war, the UN warns.   


According to the UN, this day provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a priority. It provides an opportunity to educate the people and their leaders about the real benefits of eliminating such weapons and the social and economic costs of perpetuating them.   


The German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity. Apparently remorseful for his role in the development of the atom bomb, the legendary Jewish scientist has warned that, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift towards unparalleled catastrophe”.   

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