World more dangerous now than during Cold War: expert
Expert stresses lack of binding agreement, consensus that restricts nuclear weapons worldwide
NEWS SERVICE,  AA  Tuesday 12:22, 06 August 2019
File photo

File photo

Marking the 74th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the first and only times nuclear weapons have been used in combat, an expert expressed hope that “rational states” will avoid using nuclear weapons a second time after the massive destruction in 1945.

The atomic bombs killed hundreds of thousands of people in Japan when U.S. forces detonated them to end World War II.

Nurşin Ateşoğlu Güney, a member of Turkey's Presidential Security and Foreign Policy Council, underlined that the strategic balance prevalent during the Cold War deterred the superpowers from launching a nuclear attack.

The key elements of this “nuclear stalemate” were the treaties between the U.S. and Soviet Union which limited the numbers and types of nuclear weapons they could possess and restrained the arms race, according to Guney.

Guney voiced concern over the future of these treaties, such as the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT 1 and SALT 2).

“The world is more dangerous, nebulous and unstable now than during the Cold War,” she said.

Risk of nuclear war now highest since WW2

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) announced in its annual report on June 17 that nine countries currently possess an estimated 13,865 nuclear weapons, 600 less than 2018 figures.

“The risks of nuclear war are particularly high now, and the risks of the use of nuclear weapons are higher now than at any time since World War Two,” Renata Dwan, director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), told reporters on May 21, warning the world about the danger of nuclear weapons.

Güney stressed the lack of a binding agreement and consensus that restricts nuclear weapons worldwide.

The global nuclear non-proliferation regime which was founded by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970 has been ineffective in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, she underlined.

“No sanctions are imposed on the signatory countries in case of a breach of the treaty," she said.

Status of parties to nuclear treaty

Guney said the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. -- are legitimately entitled to have nuclear weapons, while 186 other parties to the treaty have agreed not to possess any nuclear weapons.

However, all the parties to the treaty -- whether nuclear weapon or non-nuclear weapon states -- reserved the “right to develop research, production and uses of nuclear civil energy for peaceful purposes according to Article 4 of the NPT”, Guney highlighted.

“Some signatory countries to the NPT set out to conduct research on civil nuclear energy. However, later on, they resorted to nuclear armament by violating the NPT,” said Guney, referring to Iran, Israel and North Korea’s nuclear activities which triggered a nuclear arms race in their respective regions.

The emergence of North Korea as a new nuclear power, Israel, India and Pakistan’s nuclear programs, and most importantly the Trump administration’s attempts that hinder disarmament have created new risks and instabilities for today’s world, she said.

- U.S. steps increase risks of new arms race

Guney highlighted the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and its exit from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) as factors that further deepened the nuclear escalation.

The Iran nuclear accord, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in 2015 between Iran and Russia, China, France, the U.K. and the U.S. plus Germany.

Last year, however, U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and intensified pressure on Tehran by re-imposing sanctions targeting the country’s energy and banking sectors.

On Aug. 2, the U.S. formally withdrew from the INF following a months-long war of words between Moscow and Washington.

The treaty was signed on Dec. 8, 1987 after about 10 years of negotiations by then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan, bringing to an end the threat of a nuclear war in Europe.

The prolongation of the last "pillar", the START Treaty, is currently under question as the U.S. links it with the INF Treaty.

Risks of a new arms race have significantly risen after the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said Monday.

Nuclear modernization programs underway

Guney criticized nuclear weapon states’ actions that violate the principles of nuclear disarmament, saying “the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have never fulfilled their nuclear disarmament commitments under Article 6 of the NPT”.

“When we look at the new strategic defense documents of the great powers, we see that they have all taken measures regarding nuclear modernization which accelerate nuclear armament,” Guney stressed.

“Great powers prioritize and even modernize nuclear weapons in their national and strategic security documents.”

The number of nuclear weapons worldwide declined in 2019 compared to previous years, but the armed countries continue to modernize their nuclear arsenals, SIPRI reported.

“Both Russia and the U.S. have extensive and expensive programs underway to replace and modernize their nuclear warheads, missile and aircraft delivery systems, and nuclear weapon production facilities,” the report noted.

Guney also said that, in order to make the current NPT regime more effective, nuclear-armed superpowers should take a leading role by decreasing their own stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

“However, superpowers never give up their nuclear monopoly and try to prevent the other countries from having nuclear weapons,” said Guney, adding that this injustice in power sharing increased security concerns of non-nuclear weapon states and led them to acquire nuclear weapons.

She stressed that this often added to the risk of asymmetrical conflict.

Instead of triggering instability in various regions of the world, the great powers should return to a responsible approach to international security, she added.

“Turkey has a very clean record on this issue as it has signed all agreements on nuclear disarmament.

“Turkey wants its region to be completely free of nuclear weapons and supports any initiative in this direction," she added.

#Cold War
#Iran nuclear deal
#nuclear weapons
#Nursin Atesoglu Guney
#World War II
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