ED­I­TO­RIAL To­ward a nuke-free world

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - News -

AS United States Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump traded in­sults with his neme­sis North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, more than 120 United Na­tions mem­bers were try­ing to get rid of nu­clear weapons from the world. They were wor­ried that the two bom­bas­tic lead­ers could start a nu­clear war that would de­stroy the world as we know it. But ban­ning nu­clear weapons is a noble cause that the su­per­pow­ers with nu­clear weapons are not very happy about.

In­stead, the nu­clear threats by North Korea and the abil­ity of its mis­siles to reach the con­ti­nen­tal US, have been dom­i­nated global news head­lines. Such a pos­si­bil­ity has ig­nited pa­tri­otic fer­vour in the US, and nu­mer­ous ways are be­ing dis­cussed how to counter North Korea. As such, the world has been kept in sus­pense be­cause no­body knows if Kim will one day de­cide to show off his newly ac­quired nu­clear power.

In his speech to the UN on Septem­ber 19, Trump threat­ened to “to­tally de­stroy” North Korea if Washington is forced to de­fend it­self. For the time be­ing, it is im­por­tant that this provoca­tive mud­sling­ing stops im­me­di­ately. Peace should be given a chance.

Try­ing to save the world from nu­clear an­ni­hi­la­tion, UN mem­bers came to­gether on Septem­ber 20 to sign the his­toric Treaty on the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Nu­clear Weapons. Last week, when the rest of the world hailed the treaty to ban nu­clear weapons, it was the su­per­pow­ers with nu­clear arms that re­fused to budge. The US has made clear that it would not give up its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity be­cause of nu­clear threats posed by many rogue coun­tries, North Korea in par­tic­u­lar. Oth­ers were non­com­mit­tal, even though they have pledged to sup­port mul­ti­lat­eral dis­ar­ma­ment. The treaty’s sig­na­to­ries be­lieved that ban­ning the weapons un­der in­ter­na­tional law is a mile­stone in the move­ment to­ward a nuke-free world.

The 10-page treaty re­quires all coun­tries that rat­ify it to “never un­der any cir­cum­stances de­velop, test, pro­duce, man­u­fac­ture, oth­er­wise ac­quire, pos­sess or stock­pile nu­clear weapons or other nu­clear ex­plo­sive de­vices.”

From a re­gional per­spec­tive, ASEAN has been a key sup­porter of this treaty. Its mem­bers have adopted a com­mon goal of a world without nu­clear weapons. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ASEAN played dif­fer­ent roles in shap­ing the treaty at var­i­ous stages. Since 1995, it has pro­moted its South­east Asian Nu­clear-weapon­free Zone Treaty. But the five nu­clear pow­ers have con­tin­ued to drag their feet, fear­ing that ac­ced­ing to the treaty would com­pro­mise their se­cu­rity. The treaty pro­hibits port calls by nu­clear-pow­ered air­craft car­ri­ers. For the past 22 years, ASEAN has been try­ing to per­suade them to sign the re­gional no-nuke treaty at the same time to fur­ther pro­mote re­la­tions with di­a­logue part­ners.

It is now in­cum­bent on all UN mem­bers to con­vince oth­ers to sign the new treaty to ban nu­clear weapons, whether they have nu­clear po­ten­tial or not. That is the only way to guar­an­tee that no leader or coun­try will be able to de­stroy the world for any rea­son. That is the way for­ward to a safer world.

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