Analysis: NATO announce London summit, is it time for nuclear disarmament?

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NATO has announced that a 70th Anniversary Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty will be held in London in December. This has sparked a resistance from the opposition pro-disarmament movements such as the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, calling for a denuclearisation of NATO members and Russia.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is the Vice President of the CND. This has led to many disagreements within Parliament, with many arguing that we need nuclear weapons as a deterrent, but the question still stands: is a world without nuclear weaponry plausible?

In 1945, the US, after the Japanese empire refused to surrender to end WWII in the Pacific theatre, denotated two nuclear explosive devices onto the country of Japan. Ascending over Honshu in a modified B-29 bomber, Little Boy, the first nuclear weapon to ever be used in combat decimated the city of Hiroshima. The second, Fat Boy on Nagasaki, just days later. 

These remain the only time nuclear weapons have ever been used in active combat, and – we hope – the last. As since then, the development of nuclear weapons meant it soon became impossible to use without threatening the end of humanity as we know it – coining the term Mutually Assured Destruction.

Those who developed the first hydrogen bomb in the last moments of WWII dedicated the rest of their lives to spread the very real fear of their own creations.

Yet, despite this, nine nations still have armed nuclear weapons, including the UK. Four of those countries: India, Pakistan, North Korea, and – though not officially declared – Israel, are not recognised by the “Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons”. The remaining countries – The USA, Russia, the UK, China, and France – are all members of the United Nations, as well as all unrecognised parties bar North Korea – a country, having just announced another summit with the USA, could be on the verge of disarmament themselves.

The Problem

As Brexit looms, the state of the country’s leadership is currently uncertain. With Labour leading the country’s official opposition, the nation’s eyes are towards the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to solve things if Theresa May’s leadership cannot resolve the looming Brexit crisis.

With the US’ suspension of the INF with Russia, the place of disarmament within our world is becoming more uncertain. The implications of the US’ withdrawal means that they are allowed to create massive Nuclear Weapons – and Russia may do the same in retaliation – perhaps leading to a second nuclear arms race, with no doubt with the state of technology today, would be more dangerous than that seen during the Cold War era.

President Reagan and Soviet Leader Gorbatschow sign INF treaty, limiting nuclear arms –

If this happens, and Russia and/or the US create a 100mt Bomb such as the RDS-220 hydrogen bomb (also known as the Tsar Bomba by other non-Russian western countries, tested by Russia in 1968), the results of a single use of a nuclear weapon would be catatrophic.

Dropped over Manhattan, it could lead to over 8 million fatal causalities or if dropped over Beijing, a possible 7 million fatalities. The 1945 bombs ended the horrific Second World War with a dire 225,000 fatalities. The use of nuclear weapons today in such a way wouldn’t just end a war, it could lead to a long-lasting Nuclear Winter, which would lead to an extinction event very rapidly, ending humanity as we know it.

Even though this is general knowledge, countries including the UK (with the Trident project – the project to create a nuclear deterrent) still create larger nuclear weapons, which gives a larger chance of nuclear winter in the event that one of these weapons are utilised. Most countries argue that they do this as a deterrent (most recently, Michael Gove stated that we need our nuclear weapons for that exact reason, within Parliament), but is this the case?

Means to an End?

If the United Kingdom leads the charge of denuclearisation, it could mean that the world could live without the scare of nuclear winter in the near future – as other countries would follow suit.

Even though a deterrent is needed, is the idea of mass extinction not a deterrent to anyone wanting to use these weapons?

HMS Victorious, armed with Trident ballistic missiles

Countries could use the money and time invested in nuclear weaponry to find a way to make nuclear energy better for the environment, in a more cost-efficient way or fund other things such as their infrastructure, as the replacement of Trident itself will cost £31 billion, which could be used in other areas of the UK’s budgeting.

This begs the question, is Trident really needed?

Fear and Honour.

The House of Commons’ Public Library states:

“To supporters the deterrent therefore represents the ultimate security guarantee for the UK and they believe that the cost of retaining it is comparatively small when compared with the strategic risks of disarmament.”

This is mainly why Trident still exists today. Many supporters believe that Trident is the only reason we are not being attacked by other countries, and more recently rogue nations and groups with undeclared weaponry and that disarming our country will leave us open to attack. Importantly, this is also the reason why Trident is kept away from the public eye – as public fears could lead to a less secure vision Britain.

The question remains: is Trident still needed?

That’s for you to decide. But before you take a stance, make sure to read the official documents on the Trident Replacement, from the House of Commons Public Library (as aforementioned), to read more about the nature of the Trident Project, and to read more about how it could help the national security.

Also, check out the CND website, as there is a lot of information on there as to the nature of disarmament, and how it could affect our world – as well as some news about how you can take action for what you believe – such as the NATO summit in London.

Most importantly, start the conversation! Tell your friends and family what you think, send the information around for everyone to read, and for people to make a decision, as that’s the only way people will be able to stand up for what they believe is correct for our world. That’s the way that you can stand up for what you believe in.

Dylan Rana

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