FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Nuclear Weapons Cause Wars Even When Not Used

The author has been twice to North Korea and maintains contacts with physicians in the North Korean branch of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in that country.

”If your country continues to develop nuclear weapons, you will be attacked, maybe with nuclear weapons”. This what we have told our colleagues from North Korea, at visits to Pyongyang or at international meetings. “Oh no,” they said. “Look at Saddam Hussein and Mohamad Ghadafi. They gave up their plans for nuclear weapons, and they were attacked”.

“Nuclear weapons development is not the only reason for the USA to attack. Oil is the other”, we said.

It turns out we were right. North Korea – DPRK – continued on the path to nuclear weapons and the President of the USA threatens to attack. The crisis is, for the moment fading, but is likely to increase when DPRK makes its next move. It should be emphasized that a misunderstanding on either side may provide the spark causing a devastating war.

Nuclear weapons cause wars.

The US public would in all likelihood not have accepted the attack on Iraq if it had not been for the mushroom cloud rising behind Ms Condoleezza Rice on TV when she declared “I do not want the smoking gun be a nuclear detonation over Manhattan”.

Similarly, the US leaders succeeded in making the citizens believe that Iran would develop nuclear weapons, and a military attack was considered.

If it had not been for the nukes, there would have been no real threat against North Korea. Not from South Korea, not from China and not from the USA. The Americans would probably have maintained a threatening posture – because “our country is running out of enemies” – but the governments of South Korea and China would have blocked any military attack by the US.

The leaders in Pyongyang also need the US as enemy in order to justify the heavy oppression of its citizens, and would continue to play their game.

Nuclear deterrence does not work. The enormous Russian nuclear arsenal has not prevented Nato from expanding up to the Russian borders. Israel has been attacked by its neighbours, undeterred by the Israeli nuclear weapons.

The USA tries to stop nuclear proliferation, preventing that nuclear weapons “fall into the wrong hands”.

But are the hands of President Donald Trump the “right hands”? Can he be trusted to carry the fate of mankind in his pocket?

And what do we know of the future leaders of Russia? They may well be more dangerous than either Mr Putin or Mr Trump.

The North Korea nuclear crisis has taught us at least four lessons:

1. Nuclear deterrence does not work.

2. Nuclear weapons can cause war.

3. There are no “safe hands” for nuclear weapons.

4. As long as there are nuclear weapons in the world we risk a nuclear war, possibly leading to the destruction of the entire human civilisation.

On July 7th, 2017 an international agreement was reached, saying that because of the terrible human consequences of any use of nuclear weapons they must be considered illegal. A large majority of the world’s states, 122 countries, supported the treaty.

The nuclear weapon states will not join this treaty shortly. But they should take the message seriously. They should begin the multilateral negotiations they pledged to conduct already when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968.

Bilateral negotiation between Russia and USA should also resume.

First, the immediate threats should be dealt with: No nuclear weapons should be on High Alert, a situation that may lead to the destruction of mankind by mistake. No threat of a nuclear attack should ever be made against a country that does not have nuclear weapons. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty should be ratified.

Second, the two nuclear superpowers, USA and Russia, who have more than 90% f the nuclear weapons in the world, should agree on very deep cuts in their arsenals to a level of a few hundred of the large, “strategic”, nuclear weapons and all “tactical” nukes should be dismantled.

They should reiterate their conviction that a nuclear war cannot be won and should not be fought.

That means that the Russian leaders should stop talking about using “tactical” nuclear weapons in order to “escalate to de-escalate” and USA should stop modernizing its nuclear weapons in Europe.

The multilateral talks between all the states that have nuclear weapons should also aim at decreasing the risk of nuclear war by mistake.

In these respects the problems are different for different states. To solve these, the “small” nuclear weapon states must be convinced that the two big nuclear powers are serious in their endeavours to reduce their nuclear arsenals to the level of the “small” nuclear powers, which means a few hundred nukes each.

The path to a nuclear weapons free world is not chartered yet.

To do that will be easier when the nuclear weapon states finally show their determination to act responsibly and to honour their commitments.

More articles by:

Gunnar Westberg is a professor of medicine and a board member of the Transnational Institute.

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail