Double Standards and Dead-Locks in Nuclear Diplomacy
International community has harshly criticized North Korean government, when it claimed to have successfully tested a ‘hydrogen bomb’. Officials from Pyongyang would usually threaten the West & South Korea that it would test a more potent nuclear device unless economic and political concessions are forthcoming. The US and other big wig nations would casually impose more sanctions and articulate condemnations on North Korea. Pyongyang states that it has adapted a bellicose attitude to defend their right to live in the face of nuclear threats from US. A North Korean state-run media quoted that ‘it would be foolish for a hunter to lay down his rifle when he is being pursued by a wolf’. There might be a debate on who the ‘hunter’ is and who is the ‘wolf’? Nevertheless the vociferous condemnation of international community and the same communities’ conspicuous silence on the nuclear activities of other big nations demands us to ponder over the wide-spread hypocrisy.
It is not a big secret that US continues its sub-critical nuclear tests (where no chain-reaction occurs) and testing of nuclear missiles. Budget allocated by US government to update its nuclear arsenal is around $1 trillion and vitally the US is yet to sign CTBT – Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is not just the US, every nation that doesn’t come across an axis of evil for the federal government is updating its nuclear armory. The 29 nations under the US nuclear umbrella, including the nine nuclear-armed nations, believe that nuclear weapons are an essential part to ensure a country’s security. All these nations’ stance on widely banned chemical and biological weapons is more complex and enshrouded. Tim Wright, Asia-Pacific director of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) clearly states that “in the world of nuclear diplomacy, it’s do as we say, not as we do”.
So when the North Korean officials were digging tunnels to prepare a nuclear test site, somewhere in the Nevada desert, Obama administration would have gotten ready for its own tests. Mr. Obama has advocated for a nuclear-free world. His supporters and deputies are of the opinion that modernizing nuclear weapons would only produce a smaller and more reliable arsenal and with less threat, the weapons’ use is less likely. Their claim is that they are not making any big re-designs. However, the critics argue that a smaller nuclear arsenal with best targeting options would only make the use of those weapons more tempting; to use first and not as retaliation.
US government, the chief architect of Iran nuclear deal, maintains nearly 7,200 warheads, most of those gathered during cold war. While the global community is worrying over the actions of a so-called rogue state like North Korea, why aren’t they protesting against the erratic actions of ‘esteemed’ nuclear powers? May be most of the nations around the world believes that possessing nuclear weapons is useful and necessary for some future-wars. Secretary General of UN Mr. Ban Ki-moon says, “There’s no right hand for wrong weapons”, although US and its allies have always undermined disarmament by its longstanding nuclear deterrence policies.
The CTBT was adopted by UN General Assembly, back in 1996, and in these two decades, the treaty hasn’t come into force. Simply because, three key nations – India, North Korea and Pakistan – haven’t signed, while five key nations – US, China, Egypt, Iran and Israel—haven’t approved of CTBT. The treaty cannot enter into force without the participation of these eight nations. The challenges of non-proliferation and disarmament should be addressed through bold, global solutions, rather than clear-cut diplomatic standards. The first & important step is to repeatedly question the double standards of ‘responsible’ nations that often plague nuclear disarmament.