We need a strengthened, inclusive, and renewed multilateralism built on trust and based on international law that can guide us to our shared goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.António Guterres
UN Secretary General
Global nuclear disarmament is the primary goal of the UN. The General Assembly passed a resolution to observe 26 September as “The International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons” and being followed on annually since 2014. It is latest in a series of efforts by the UN to raise public awareness and to seek deeper engagement on nuclear disarmament matters. 29 August is being observed as International Day against Nuclear Tests from 2009 onwards. This year the day takes on special meaning in 2020 in also marking 75 years since the world has seen Trinity.
It is estimated that various countries in possession have nuclear arsenal amounting to around 13,400. States possessing nuclear weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernise their nuclear arsenals. The worrying factor is that there are no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway. Going by the record of testing, US, Russia, France, UK, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, are in possession of nuclear weapons. Strategists believe that Israel has nuclear weapons.
The history of nuclear testing began on 16 July 1945, by the United States. The world has seen over 2000 nuclear tests, 1032 (US), 715 (USSR), France (210), UK (45), China (45), India (3), Pakistan (2), North Korea (five times) (one as recent as in 2017).
Nuclear explosions have been detonated in all environments: above ground, underground and underwater. Underground testing (constitutes many of the tests 75%) when the explosion is fully contained, emits little fallout compared to atmospheric testing. In the early days of nuclear testing, little consideration was given to its devastating effects on human life. Not only Humans, animals, plant species are sensitive to radiation. Most mammals share humans’ sensitivity to radiation.
The 1963 partial test ban treaty banned nuclear testing, including testing for peaceful purposes, in the atmosphere, underwater and in space but not underground. Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) that bans all nuclear explosions on Earth. “Securing our Common Future” is the aim, and Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is in that direction. Unfortunately, this has yet to enter into force. As of July 2019, 184 countries have signed, of which 168 have ratified the Treaty, yet to sign/ ratify are biggies like China and US. In 2019, the US’s withdrawal spelt the end of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, fearing the possibility of further escalation of testing and accumulating of nuclear weapons.
A robust mechanism is put in place to monitor testing through the International Monitoring System (IMS), which uses the four state-of-the-art technologies: Seismic, Hydroacoustic, Infrasound and Radionuclide.
The world is aiming to achieve Zero (Global Zero) a term that refers to the worldwide elimination of a weapons system including nuclear weapons. Various arms control campaigns are also referred to as Ground Zero.
Nuclear energy offers a source of abundant clean energy if harnessed it would be able to meet the energy demands of the world, without CO2 addition. The dropping of bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and destruction that followed always remain the memory of humankind. The fear of the possibilities of this technology be used for destruction led to people becoming apprehensive about this form of energy.
The race to achieve the mastery of nuclear weapons, in a way, demonstrates the capability of humanity to come together to achieve breakthroughs. Manhattan project is a unique case study which showed coming together of many scientists, engineers, and planners in achieving the breakthrough. When the world could do this, can the world come together and do it again to solve problems like “Climate Change” which are threatening the survival of humanity?
More immediate to find solutions to COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted humanity, transcending rich, poor, famous or whoever. The world must come together to find a solution and that too in the shortest time possible.
Someone somewhere in the universe, while writing about human history, would write “here was a race did not survive as it has failed to put together all its strength and capability to find solutions”.
A nuclear-weapons-free world is our commitment to the next generation. Our dream is to fulfil the dreams and rights of the innocent children of the future world.Amit Ray
in Nuclear Weapons Free World Peace on the Earth