NUCLEAR TERRORISM

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Feb 2018 09:15:14


Peace is in peril and the chances of global peace are only diminishing with the rise of these usurping powers. Their activities are getting more intense and spread more rapid with the silence of the state players.

The landing of atomic weapons in the wrong hands is a burgeoning possibility. With disruptive forces and fringe elements getting the upper hand in the global social and political discourse and the ineffectiveness of the state players in holding them back is leading to catastrophic developments

THE United States has warned countries against supporting non-State actors and terrorist groups trying to obtain or employ nuclear weapons. “The US will hold accountable any State or non-State actor that supports terrorist efforts to obtain or employ a nuclear weapon,” Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Tom Shannon, told reporters at a Pentagon news conference recently. US officials have in the past expressed concern over the possibility of nuclear weapons of Pakistan landing into the hands of non-State actors or terrorist groups and thus have been working with Islamabad in enhancing the security of its nuclear weapons.

Understandably, Pakistan has repeatedly denied such fears and asserted that its nuclear arsenals are one of the safest and secure ones in the world, yet doubts loom large. Shannon said that nuclear terrorism remained a major threat in the 21st century and countries need to work to mitigate it. The report said the US would try and prevent terrorists from obtaining nuclear weapons or technology and respond to nuclear incidents by locating and disabling a nuclear device or managing the consequences of a nuclear detonation.

According to the report, the US will continue its efforts to minimise the number of nuclear weapons states, including by maintaining credible US-extended nuclear deterrence and assurance; and deny terrorist organisations access to nuclear weapons and materials. It will also seek arms control agreements that enhance security and are verifiable and enforceable.The US will enhance co-operation with its allies, partners, and international institutions to combat nuclear terrorism, and deterring State support for nuclear terrorism through advanced forensics and attribution capabilities. Asking States to declare or maintain moratorium over testing of nuclear weapons, the US also said that unless there was compulsion due to some exceptional circumstances, it also would not go for any further testing of nuke weapons. The landing of atomic weapons in the wrong hands is a burgeoning possibility.

With disruptive forces and fringe elements getting the upper hand in the global social and political discourse and the ineffectiveness of the State players in holding them back is leading to catastrophic developments. Peace is in peril and the chances of global peace are only diminishing with the rise of these usurping powers. Their activities are getting more intense and spread more rapid with the silence of the state players.

Out of communal, religious, military, political, ideological or economic considerations, these elements have been allowed to grow and now they have become strong and effective, so much so that in many countries, they dictate the political agenda of the Government. Their growing hobnobbing with the Governments poses a grave risk of critical establishments and facilities falling into their hands. The US concern at this time is relevant. The concern is not just US’ but it is a global headache that needs concerted and co-operative action by all civil societies. It is almost an unstated war between good and evil and if good has to win, it will have to fight.

There is no option of slinking off or shirking. We are responsible for our future. A nuclear war is an ultimate recipe for a global catastrophe that will obliterate all life from the face of the planet forever. Every country worth its name is today sitting atop stockpiles of nuclear bombs, ready for just a spark. Several countries are still enhancing their capabilities and gearing up for a possible war, little realising the outcome of such a misadventure. Responsible behaviour is not expected at times of emotional volatility. The situation worsens when non-State actors also start to play a role in decisions of importance and far-reaching implications.

The fringe elements, devoid of any social responsibility or international commitment, are more likely to give free reign to their whims, without caring for the end result of such pandering. It is thus vital for the elected Governments and chosen leaders to keep the fringe elements in constant check so that they don’t cross their limits. In countries like Pakistan, we all know how the disruptive elements and religious bigots wield the baton and subdue the Government functioning dictating its course of action. It has come to this due to years of acceptance and affiliation of terror groups into the system by civil dispensations for petty gains or ideological mind blocks. Today, it has become almost impossible for these Governments to tame the Frankenstein they have unwittingly created.

Powerful countries like the US have to take the lead in brokering global peace by coaxing governments and negotiating with them as the respective case merits, and, to gradually bring the disruptive elements to book. Their networks and power structures have to be broken and dismantled through close monitoring of their movements and activities and strategic interventions to derail their ploys. This has to be a collective global effort. The misplacement and misuse of nuclear weapons is no longer a far-fetched possibility but a growing reality which we should be aware of.

A country like the US may be better positioned to thwart a possible attack directed towards it or its allies due to its better deterrence and military capability, but that may not be true for less developed nations, many of which might be at sea should such an onslaught be unleashed by non-State actors. Moreover, anatomic accident anywhere in the world can pose threat to all humanity through years of ripple effects and for this reason, every country needs to take necessary steps to put in place multiple layers of safeguard mechanisms so that critical weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands. Countries should join hands and ink deals to root out terror elements and other destructive forces from their land in a committed time bound manner so that the chances of nuclear mismanagement is mitigated.

Countries need to take some bold and decisive steps for course correction because with the continually growing influence and audacity of diverse fringe groups in various countries and societies, we are fast running out of time. We should choose our leaders wisely so that the rowdy, the rash and the maverick don’t break into the power structure and get the rightful authority to take stupid decisions to settle personal scores or satiate personal fancies.

By the way, we already lost millions of lives every year in various parts of the world to terror attacks and bloodletting by a million gun totting groups operating under various garbs in multiple countries. A large-scale holocaust or mass annihilation sooner or later is imminent if civilian dispensations don’t exercise their right efficiently and have a stranglehold on matters of grave military and strategic importance.