The 21st century nuclear arms race

Credit: US government
  • Notice by Joseph Gerson (new York)
  • Inter Press Service
  • The author is president of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security and vice-president of the International Peace Bureau.

The preparations for a genocidal or omnicidal nuclear war are undeniably suicidal madness. Worse yet, with the provocative military actions of the United States, Russia and China in the Baltic, Black, South and East China Seas, and in the case of Ukraine and Taiwan, an accident or error of calculation could all too easily trigger a life-ending nuclear cataclysm.

At a time when scientific, financial and diplomatic cooperation is desperately needed to stem and reverse the climate emergency and to overcome and prevent current and future pandemics, the nuclear arms races of the 21st century are already claiming lives and threatening our future with wasted national treasures. in preparations to end all life as we know it.

It had been hoped that US President Joe Biden would put the brakes on the massive US $ 1.7 trillion upgrade of his nuclear arsenal and triad of launch systems.

Instead, the Biden budget released last week does not reflect any changes from the build-up of Trump-era nuclear weapons, including funding for “money-sink” ICBM replacement missiles, weapons more usable battlefields to deploy in Europe, and SLBMs and so on. called missile defense to Asia-Pacific.

These, in turn, lead China to increase the size of its nuclear deterrent forces and reconsider its non-use-first doctrine.

How to remove the existential nuclear threat?

Disarmament! Popular movements, such as those that spawned the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW) and that in the United States are pushing to stop spending on new nuclear weapons and for the Biden administration to adopt a doctrine non-use first, are essential.

In the very short term, political leaders and civil society must pressure Presidents Biden and Putin not to waste the opportunity inherent in their next summit. They should assume their historic and existential responsibilities and emulate the 1989 Malta summit in which Presidents Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev jointly declared the end of the Cold War.

Some of the actions the two presidents are expected to take include:

  • Declare that nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
  • Commit to adopting nuclear non-use-first doctrines and negotiating verifiable short-term deals to eliminate the danger of first-strike nuclear war.
  • Restore the limitations of the INF Treaty and ban the deployment of “more usable” nuclear weapons on the battlefield.
  • Renew their commitments to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and publish a timetable for meeting the commitments made at previous NPT review conferences.
  • Announce the start of negotiations to eliminate the danger of cyber-hacking of US and Russian nuclear arsenals and their infrastructure essential to human security.
  • Stop provocative US, NATO and Russian military exercises in the Baltic and Black Seas and the Arctic Ocean and along the NATO / Russia border.
  • Stop arms deliveries to warring parties in Ukraine and renew their commitments to respect the Minsk agreements.
  • Commit to jointly providing the vaccines and materials needed for more than one billion Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX, and future joint research for pandemic prevention.
  • Engage in joint initiatives to reverse climate change.

Over five decades ago, at the height of the US-Soviet Cold War, two moral and intellectual paragons of the twentieth century, Lord Russell and Albert Einstein warned that “we must learn to ask ourselves, not what steps can be taken. taken to give the military victory to any group that we prefer, because there are no such steps anymore; the question we must ask ourselves is: what measures can be taken to prevent a military struggle, the outcome of which must be disastrous for all parties?

Their response: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest. “

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© Inter Press Service (2021) – All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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