Whither goal of nuclear disarmament?

Friendly Fire – Published on PakObserver.net, by Khalid Saleem, April 12, 2010.

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have signed, in Prague, what has been termed as a ‘landmark treaty’ committing their nations to nuclear arms cuts. Now that the two have little to fear from each other, such treaties should come easy! And yet they make such a hullabaloo about it. Writing in The Guardian on the occasion, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks feelingly about ‘a world free from nuclear danger’. She avers somewhat menacingly, “To those who refuse to meet their international obligations and seek to intimidate their neighbours; the world is more united than ever before and will not accept your intransigence”. The only snag is that, as always, the sole superpower will apply this concept selectively and not universally. 

Meanwhile, back home we continue to harp on our old hackneyed tunes. Will we ever give up vain attempts at turning the clock back? Will we never learn? We are once again repeating the mantra of asking the American administration to treat Pakistan at par with India in the matter of nuclear energy. One had thought that this thesis had died with the late lamented Agha Shahi. It appears that it has not. At the same time, it should be fairly obvious that the Americans have no intention of doing any such thing. The US intentions in the region are political and not at all disarmament oriented. So why beat a dead horse; why not instead pursue the goal of nuclear disarmament? Ever wonder why it is no longer fashionable to discuss the subject of disarmament in knowledgeable circles? … //

… The option of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones, weighed against the mirage of a nuclear deterrent, makes a lot of sense. Now that so much fuss is being made of the quest for peace in the sub-continent, wouldn’t it make sense for the smaller states in the region to work towards making the region free of these horrible weapons of mass destruction at the same time? The aforementioned may appear to some as idealistic. The choice facing the peoples of India and Pakistan is stark; either embrace a new dawn of peaceful co-existence or revert to the odious status quo ante. There is no gray area in between. Regrettably, recent developments have dealt a deadly blow to the hopes for nuclear disarmament. The India-US Defense Framework Agreement and its subsequent follow-up have the makings of rewriting the entire script in the subcontinent. The new strategy of the sole superpower is to no longer treat the nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan at par, through the elevation of the former to the pedestal of a regional power. This can, at best, be a shortsighted approach. (full text).

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