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Nuclear powers must stop playing nuclear chess and atomic roulette

Declassified reports show that the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Boris Johnson has threatened to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

This is a violation of international law — and will encourage non-nuclear nations to acquire nuclear weapons.

Russia has left the Treaty on Open Skies, a clear indication that relations with the United States are going back to the days of the Cold War. 

A report by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons states that the nine nuclear weapons powers — the United States, Russia, France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea — last year spent $72-billion on upgrading and increasing their nuclear arsenals. This is equivalent to spending $137 000 every minute in 2020. 

Among the numerous signs of a conspicuous intensification of the arms race, three are especially grave: the seismic shift from a race in quantity to a race in quality, growing nuclear proliferation and an escalation in the arms trade. All three combine to reinforce the  dynamics of the arms race to make it a global occurrence.

Nuclear armaments have evolved into an all-out open-ended race. Production of the most modern fifth and sixth generation technological weapons continues unabated.The world is being armed with the most sophisticated nuclear and hypersonic weapons and a plethora of other weaponry.

Nuclear  weapons present the world with several deadly paradoxes. The most destructive  military instruments ever devised have remained unused for decades despite constant warfare since their debut in Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly 70 years ago. Even though unused in battle and often declared to be unusable, they dominate strategic thought and ensure that military questions preoccupy the nuclear powers more persistently than ever before in peacetime.

All the nuclear powers are rehearsing nuclear chess by trading nuclear insults.The shadow of nuclear Armageddon looms over their fragile lines of control.

Ever since Japan was under nuclear attack, world leaders have had the wisdom to avoid another nuclear war. Humanity witnessed the terrifying, destructive power of nuclear weapons and vowed never to repeat the mistake.

But there is a risk that humanity has not witnessed its last nuclear war. Many sober observers believe the world is closer to nuclear war now,than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Nuclear roulette, a version of political roulette, puts the world at risk. Every small conflict pushes the nuclear gun at the head of civilisation. 

Brinkmanship between the nine nuclear powers is a shared risk of war in which each side pushes the other towards the brink of  disaster or war to force the other side to capitulate at the last second. These nine will not survive a strategic nuclear exchange.

The only way to survive is to put down the atomic gun. 

The current constellation of global events make nuclear war a possible reality. Hundreds of computer nuclear simulations reveal that every major city in major countries will be incinerated.

Admirals and generals in all the nuclear countries believe they will emerge victorious in a nuclear conflict. This deadly myth is embedded in their respective nuclear doctrines. Their first and second strike capabilities are fatally flawed; they will not survive the nuclear holocaust that will follow.

Once nuclear war is unleashed there will be no turning back.The electromagnetic pulse produced by the nuclear fireballs will destroy communications on a scale that the world has never witnessed. Our civilisation will come to an abrupt end.

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Farouk Araie
Farouk Araie is a Mail & Guardian reader from Actonville in Gauteng

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