[ The U.S. has pulled out of a major arms agreement with Russia,
and the Trump administration wants to bump the budget for the
modernization of nuclear weapons by nearly 9 percent. The nuclear
powers should observe the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty]



 Conn Hallinan 
 March 11, 2019
Foreign Policy in Focus

	* []

 _ The U.S. has pulled out of a major arms agreement with Russia, and
the Trump administration wants to bump the budget for the
modernization of nuclear weapons by nearly 9 percent. The nuclear
powers should observe the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty _ 

 Indian and Pakistani border guards shake hands at a village border
crossing., Photo: Koshy Koshy / Flickr // Foreign Policy in Focus 


The recent military clash between India and Pakistan underscores the
need for the major nuclear powers — the U.S., Russia, China,
Britain, and France — finally to move toward fulfilling their
obligations under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  

The Treaty’s purpose was not simply to prevent the spread of nuclear
weapons, but to serve as a temporary measure until Article VI
[] could take
effect: the “cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and
to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete
disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

The 191 countries that signed the NPT — the most widely subscribed
nuclear treaty on the planet — did so with the understanding that
the major powers would de-nuclearize. But in the 50 years since the
Treaty was negotiated, the nuclear powers have yet to seriously
address eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

While over the years the Americans and the Russians have reduced the
number of warheads in their arsenals, they — along with China —
are currently in the midst of a major modernization of their weapon
systems. Instead of a world without nuclear weapons, it is a world of
nuclear apartheid, with the great powers making no move to downsize
their conventional forces.

For non-nuclear armed countries, this is the worst of all worlds.


The folly of this approach was all too clear in the recent India and
Pakistan dustup. While both sides appear to be keeping the crisis
under control, for the first time in a very long time, two nuclear
powers that border one another exchanged air and artillery attacks.

While so far things have not gotten out of hand, both countries
recently introduced military policies
[] that
make the possibility of a serious escalation very real.

On the New Delhi side is a doctrine called “Cold Start” that
permits the Indian military to penetrate up to 30 kilometers deep into
Pakistan if it locates, or is in pursuit of, “terrorists.” On the
Islamabad side is a policy that gives front-line Pakistani commanders
the authority to use tactical nuclear weapons.

The possibility of a nuclear exchange is enhanced by the disparity
between India and Pakistan’s military forces. One does not have to
be Carl von Clausewitz to predict the likely outcome of a conventional
war between a country of 200 million people and a country of 1.3
billion people.

Pakistan reserves the right to use nuclear weapons first. India has
a “no first use”
[] policy,
but with so many caveats that it is essentially meaningless. In brief,
it wouldn’t take much to ignite a nuclear war between them.

If that happens, its effects will not be just regional. According to
a study
[] by
the University of Colorado, Rutgers University, and UCLA, if Pakistan
and India exchanged 100 Hiroshima-sized nuclear warheads (15
kilotons), they would not only kill or injure 45 million people, but
also generate enough smoke to plunge the world into a 25-year long
nuclear winter.

Both countries have between 130 and 150 warheads
[] apiece.

Temperatures would drop to Ice Age levels and worldwide rainfall would
decline by 6 percent, triggering major droughts. The Asian Monsoon
could be reduced by between 20 and 80 percent, causing widespread
regional starvation.

Between the cold and the drought, global grain production could fall
by 20 percent in the first half decade, and by 10 to 15 percent over
the following half decade.

Besides cold and drought, the ozone loss would be between 20 and 50
percent, which would not only further damage crops, but harm sea life,
in particular plankton. The reduction of the ozone layer would also
increase the rate of skin cancers.

The study estimates that “two billion people who are now only
marginally fed might die from starvation and disease in the aftermath
of a nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India.”

In short, there is no such thing as a “local” nuclear war.


Article VI is the heart of the NPT, because it not only requires
abolishing nuclear weapons but also addresses the fears that
non-nuclear armed nations have about the major powers’ conventional

A number of countries — China in particular — were stunned by the
conventional firepower unleashed by the U.S. in its 2003 invasion of
Iraq. Though the U.S. occupation of Iraq took a disastrous turn, the
ease with which U.S. forces initially dispatched the Iraqi army was a
sobering lesson for a lot of countries.

In part, it is the conventional power of countries like the U.S. that
fuels the drive by smaller nations to acquire nuclear weapons.

Libya is a case in point. That country voluntarily gave up its nuclear
weapons program in 2003. Less than seven years later Muammar Gaddafi
was overthrown by the U.S. and NATO. At the time, the North Koreans
[] essentially
said, “we told you so.”

The NPT has done a generally good job of halting proliferation. While
Israel, Pakistan, India, and North Korea have obtained nuclear weapons
— the first three never signed the Treaty and North Korea withdrew
in 2003 — South Africa abandoned its program. Other nuclear-capable
nations like Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Iran, South Korea, and Saudi
Arabia also haven’t joined the nuclear club — yet.

But it is hard to make a case for non-proliferation when the major
nuclear powers insist on keeping their nuclear arsenals. And one can
hardly blame smaller countries for considering nuclear weapons as a
counterbalance to the conventional forces of more powerful nations
like the U.S. and China. If there is anything that might make Iran
abandon its pledge not to build nuclear weapons, it’s all the talk
in Israel, the U.S., and Saudi Arabia about regime change in Tehran.


There are specific regional problems, the solutions to which would
reduce the dangers of a nuclear clash.

The U.S. has taken some steps in that direction on the Korean
Peninsula by downsizing its yearly war games with South Korea and
Japan. Declaring an end to the almost 70-year-old Korean war and
withdrawing some U.S. troops from South Korea would also reduce

Halting the eastward expansion of NATO and ending military exercises
on the Russian border would reduce the chances of a nuclear war in

In South Asia, the international community must become involved in a
solution to the Kashmir problem. Kashmir has already led to three wars
between India and Pakistan, and the 1999 Kargil incident came
distressingly close to going nuclear.

This latest crisis
[] started
over a February 14 suicide bombing in Indian-occupied Kashmir that
killed more than 40 Indian paramilitaries. While a horrendous act, the
current government of India’s brutal crackdown in Kashmir has
stirred enormous anger among the locals
Kashmir is now one of the most militarized regions in the world, and
India dominates it through a combination of force and extra-judicial
colonial laws
[] —
the Public Safety Act and the Special Powers Act — that allows it to
jail people without charge and bestows immunity on the actions of the
Indian army, the paramilitaries, and the police.

Since 1989, the conflict
[] has
claimed more than 70,000 lives and seen tens of thousands of others
“disappeared,” injured, or imprisoned.

India blames the suicide attack on Pakistan, which has a past track
record of so doing. But that might not be the case here. Even though a
Pakistani-based terrorist organization, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), claims
credit, both sides need to investigate the incident. It is not
unlikely that the attack was homegrown — the bomber was Kashmiri —
although possibly aided by JeM. It is also true that Pakistan does not
have total control over the myriad of militant groups that operate
within its borders. The Pakistani Army, for instance, is at war with
its homegrown Taliban.

The Kashmir question is a complex one, but solutions are out there.
The United Nations originally pledged to sponsor a plebiscite
[] in
Kashmir to let the local people decide if they want to be part of
India, Pakistan, or independent. Such a plebiscite should go forward.
What cannot continue is the ongoing military occupation of 10 million
people, most of whom don’t want India there.

Kashmir is no longer a regional matter. Nuclear weapons threaten not
only Pakistanis and Indians, but, indeed, the whole world. The major
nuclear powers must begin to move toward fulfilling Article VI of the
NPT, or sooner or later our luck will run out.

_[Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read
[] and

_Thanks to the author for sending this to Portside._

	* []







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