Leading article: The shadow of the bomb still lingers after 60 years

Share
Related Topics

This week, Iran threatened to break off negotiations with the European Union and restart its nuclear processing plant in Isfahan. The European Union - represented by Britain, France and Germany - has, in turn, threatened to take the country to the United Nations Security Council for breaching the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

This is by no means the only nuclear dispute confronting the world. The United States and four other nations are engaged in sensitive negotiations with North Korea in an attempt to persuade that bankrupt Asian regime to destroy its nuclear weapons. The governments of South Korea and Japan are particularly concerned about what this unstable dictatorship might be capable of. Japan is even considering what was once unthinkable - developing its own nuclear deterrent.

There is one encouraging sign. Pakistan and India - two nuclear-armed nations - appear to have reached an accommodation on minimising the prospect of a catastrophic war on the subcontinent. There are plans for a hotline between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministries to avoid misunderstandings. But it would be wrong to draw too much comfort from this. Pakistan's government is far from secure. There is a real danger that General Musharraf could be deposed by Islamist militants, who would have little interest in peace with India. And the two nations are still in profound dispute over Kashmir.

It is also necessary to take into consideration the stockpiles of nuclear weapons that exist in the unstable states of the former Soviet Union. Security experts have been warning since the early 1990s that there is a serious danger these could find their way into the hands of terrorists. This becomes an even greater threat in the era of al-Qa'ida.

What makes a bad situation worse is the double standards exhibited by the long-established nuclear powers. It is, of course, right that the international community is attempting to persuade North Korea to disarm, and Iran not to go down the nuclear route. But those nations that are at the forefront in calling for smaller countries to disarm have made no efforts to live up to their own obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. All nations are supposed to be diminishing their stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Yet the United States and Russia have done little on this front. Indeed, President Bush has given the green light to the development of "battlefield" nuclear weapons. Israel refuses even to confirm whether it has such weapons or not. And our own Prime Minister is on the verge of sanctioning an upgrade of Britain's Trident defence system. It is little wonder that the pariah nations of the world detect hypocrisy when powerful countries come to demand that they eschew nuclear technologies.

We have entered a new age of global instability, less predictable than the Cold War. Unless the entire world makes serious efforts to destroy its nuclear weapons we are in grave danger of seeing the terrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki repeated in our own lifetimes.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

There's a mainstream alternative to George Osborne's economics

John Healey
Stuart Baggs, who has died at the age of 27  

Stuart Baggs dead: It is not fair to brand him as a buffoon

Tom Peck
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open