A world with­out nu­clear weapons

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Javier Solana

IN a 2009 speech in Prague, Obama iden­ti­fied nu­clear weapons as “the most im­me­di­ate and ex­treme threat to global se­cu­rity,” ow­ing to their po­ten­tial to fall into the hands of ter­ror­ists or other rogue el­e­ments, and com­mit­ted to re­duc­ing their role in Amer­ica’s na­tional se­cu­rity strat­egy. In his mov­ing Hiroshima ad­dress, Obama again em­pha­sized the need to pur­sue a world with­out nu­clear weapons. He de­scribed the “moral revolution” that must ac­com­pany tech­no­log­i­cal progress, with so­ci­eties re­sist­ing the “logic of fear” that com­pels them to cling to their nu­clear ar­se­nals.

But, though both speeches ex­pressed sim­i­lar ideas, they were de­liv­ered against very dif­fer­ent pol­icy back­drops. In­deed, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s nu­clear pol­icy has changed sub­stan­tially since 2009, when con­tain­ing nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion was among its cen­tral for­eign-pol­icy con­cerns.

In 2010, Obama brought world lead­ers to­gether for the first-ever Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Sum­mit, which fo­cused on keep­ing nu­clear ma­te­rial out of the hands of ter­ror­ists — a fo­cus that has since proved to be jus­ti­fied. Though the ini­tial aim of freez­ing stocks of plu­to­nium and highly en­riched ura­nium was not achieved, the four sum­mits held since then have brought about a re­duc­tion in other sources of ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial and safety mea­sures have been im­proved.

The 2010 sum­mit came just days af­ter an­other ap­par­ent vic­tory for non­pro­lif­er­a­tion: Obama and then Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Dmitri Medvedev signed the New Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty (New START), which com­mit­ted them to halve their stores of strate­gic nu­clear mis­sile launch­ers. Just a year ear­lier, then US Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton and Rus­sian For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Lavrov an­nounced a “re­set” in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. Since then, how­ever, the re­la­tion­ship has de­te­ri­o­rated, tak­ing with it hope for fur­ther co­op­er­a­tion.

In fact, Obama’s en­tire non-pro­lif­er­a­tion agenda has lost con­sid­er­able mo­men­tum. Rus­sia chose not to at­tend the lat­est Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Sum­mit, held in Wash­ing­ton ear­lier this year. And not only has the US not pro­posed any new in­ter­na­tional non-pro­lif­er­a­tion ini­tia­tives; at a 2015 con­fer­ence to re­view the Nu­clear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty, it moved to avoid a con­fer­ence on a nu­clear weapons ban for the Mid­dle East, in or­der to avoid in­creas­ing ten­sions with Is­rael.

Given that there can be no secu- rity in East Asia — es­pe­cially for South Korea and Ja­pan — with­out a nu­clear deal, strong in­ter­na­tional ac­tion is cru­cial. Specif­i­cally, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity must es­ca­late its re­sponse to North Korea’s in­creas­ingly un­ruly be­hav­ior, by com­pelling the country’s lead­ers to en­gage in ne­go­ti­a­tions with world pow­ers re­gard­ing its nu­clear pro­gram. For talks to be suc­cess­ful, how­ever, China and the US — which have plenty of dis­agree­ments of their own — must work to­gether, and the other mem­bers of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil must fa­cil­i­tate such co­op­er­a­tion.

Obama’s ad­dress in Hiroshima car­ried huge sym­bolic sig­nif­i­cance. But, with more than 15,000 nu­clear weapons still in the world, sym­bol­ism is not enough. It is time to take ac­tion to ad­vance non-pro­lif­er­a­tion. — Courtesy Arab News

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.