Will there ever be a world without nuclear weapons? Needless to say, how naive and unrealistic this question may sound even seventy-three years after the first atomic bomb, the little boy was dropped during the WW2 upon the innocent civilians of Hiroshima. Not long after the incident, Albert Einstein marked the moment by affirming the following “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything, save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe”. In other words, continue to think the same and nothing will change, but the trajectory will lead us to a nuclear disaster. Moreover, the continuing widespread inaction and lack of concern from the world society makes the whole world look like sleep-walkers towards an unprecedented and expected calamity. We should change the ignorance, violation and will for power which drove the people in the first place to create such a horrific weapon.
When it comes to specialists and advisers in such a large field of expertise as nuclear security, the world seems to be divided between nuclear optimists and realists which underline once again how uncertain the situation is. If the so-called nuclear optimists think the probability of a nuclear war approaches zero, other specialists use different kinds of methods to establish the possibilities of the future by keeping an eye on the past events that almost crossed the nuclear barrier. One of the closest point in history to a nuclear war happened in 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when the president of USA, John F. Kennedy estimated the odds of a war at somewhere between ”one-in-three and even”. Also, the Russian invasion of Georgia from August 2008 could have had major repercussions if the Americans would have interfered as they originally promised. The real problem was that most American citizens were unaware that Georgia fired the first shots and the blame stayed with both parties involved. Therefore, when it comes to a nuclear-related incident even the slightest point that tends to cross the nuclear barrier should frighten the whole world.
Some may believe the nuclear shred became extinct after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but nuclear proliferation and terrorism change the face of the problem once more. In other words, the Cold War is evidently over, but the need to reduce the risks and control the issue has become greater in some respects. India and Pakistan possess approximately 150 nuclear weapons and only 10 years ago India suffered a major attack by Pakistani-based terrorists. Considering that Pakistan is tainted with chaos and corruption, we should all consider the possibility of a regional conflict which can surpass the borders of the countries. Also, even a world-wide known terrorist group such as Al-Qaeda openly expressed their desires to obtain nuclear weapons and kill millions of Americans.
Look at the situation in this way, if terrorists put their hands on 50 kg of highly enriched uranium then that would represent a small step towards usable nuclear weapons. This problem is far more dangerous than most people realize because the components of nuclear bombs are not always very well guarded. For example, South Africa`s highly enriched uranium fuel from a dozen bombs is stored in their Pelindaba nuclear facility which was successfully entered in November 2007 by two armed teams who managed to circumvent all the security measures. But happily this event ended swimmingly since the uranium remained untouched, but we may not be this lucky next time.
Thereby, it’s only natural that each individual country has primary responsibility for its own nuclear security. But imagine which will be the consequences of a nuclear regional incident upon the whole world. Therefore, intensive cooperation at international levels is of vital importance for the protection of the future generations.
One important and significant step that the governments made in the last years may very well include the Nuclear Security Summits as the last one took place in Washington in 2016. Forty-seven countries participated and declared their commitment to safeguarding nuclear materials, improving the security of nuclear bomb-making materials and signed political commitments relating to a specific aspect of nuclear security. All those international exchanges noted impressive results, including the complete removal of highly enriched uranium from 12 countries, the complete shutdown of the low enriched uranium fuel usage in 24 research reactors and isotope production facilities that had previously used uranium, and also the upgrade of security at 32 buildings that store fissile materials. But even considering all those tremendous results, the danger stays with us as long as nuclear weapons and their delivery systems remain free restrictions for seven of the nine states have nuclear weapons and the other two have no further or planned negotiations.
In the light of recent events as Kim Jong-Un, the president of North Korea, declared several months ago that he has finally realized his dream to make his country a state of nuclear force and, also, the infamous recent heavy exchanges of replies between him and the current president of USA, Donald Trump, it may seem like the path towards a conflict that can degenerate into an “unparalleled catastrophe” it’s not so far away after all.
Therefore, we can conclude that nuclear optimism is nothing more than a simple illusion. The goal of a world free of nuclear weapons could be perceived as an impossible task and we may not even see the small light from the end of the tunnel, but we must not fall under the temptation of ignoring the true significance and repercussions of each event upon the fate of mankind.