The nuclear brink

Editorial June 22, 2024


The world is mired in an environment of nukes. In an era fueled with geopolitical tensions, it becomes more worrisome to note that all of the nuclear powers are bogged down in a race to enrich their weapons and delivery systems. And those who have not crossed the threshold of uranium enrichment to a bomb level, such as Iran, are contemplating to do so. The uncertainty gripping the Korean Peninsula and the heartland of Europe in the wake of Russo-Ukrainian conflict as well as an uneasy peace between India and Pakistan make it a case of a holocaust in the making.

The annual report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) saying that India has surpassed the edge that Pakistan possessed in terms of number of nuclear warheads comes as a shock, and simply underscores the need for brokering a regime of peace. Pakistan has retained its count at 170 warheads whereas, according to SIPRI, India has added a few more to its arsenal, and that too at a time when its row with China is on the rise and the US is meddling in the region. This calls for restraint and a policy mechanism for confidence building measures between the two South Asian rivals.

With no tangible primary estimates to bless credence to Stockholm estimates, it is also problematic to note that both the countries have unannounced allocations for their nuclear programmes, and India is unchecked, as the 2008 Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) waiver allowed Delhi to import substantial amounts of nuclear fuel, paving the way for potential weapons development. This institutional apartheid too is a cause for concern, and erodes the balance of power in the region. The edge that India enjoys in conventional armed supremacy will always keep Pakistan on tenterhooks, and reliance on nukes will be a constant. This is why, perhaps, Islamabad does not adhere to a no-first-use policy. This dilemma warrants introspection and international involvement to ensure that none go over the brink.


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