Saturday, February 23, 2019 | ePaper
Nuclear weapons and global security
A deadly nuclear arms race looms in the face of humanity, as US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, walk away from the 31-year-old INF treaty.
Accidental or intentional nuclear war is an ever-emerging threat. A recently declassified intelligence report reveals that cyber threats to nuclear weapons and related systems, including planning systems, early warning systems, communications and delivery systems, increases the risk of unauthorised use of a nuclear weapon, and as a result false warnings could undermine confidence in the nuclear deterrent. This is because speed, stealth, unpredictability and challenge of any sophisticated cyber-attack makes it difficult to anticipate, deter and defend against concerted cyber assaults.
Since the cold war, the United States has kept 900 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert, enabling the president to order a strike in 10 minutes. The other nuclear powers have the following nuclear weapons on 10-minute alert - Russia has 897, France has 80 and the United Kingdom 40.
If 100 nuclear weapons are unleashed on China, the world's most populous nation, 35 million people would be killed, millions more seriously injured. If India and Pakistan fought a war using 100 nuclear weapons, 50 million people will perish, half the world's upper ozone layer would be destroyed, and a "Nuclear Winter' will cripple the monsoons and decimate agriculture globally.
If we accept the premise that the development, deployment and the use of nuclear weapons is a threat to the continued existence of mankind and thus to the life of the international community, then the conclusion is inescapable that the existence of nuclear weapons is inconsistent with International Law and global security.
(The writer is based in South Africa).