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
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative - Unskilled & Skilled

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen to jo...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Law Firm - Bromley

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Market...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen Fitter / Kitchen Fitters Mate

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This designer and manufacturer ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the old Palace of Westminster; Batman vs Superman; and more Greenery

John Rentoul
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee