Everything We Need To Know About The Treaty To Ban Nuclear Weapons

Everything We Need To Know About The Treaty To Ban Nuclear Weapons

A nuclear physicist’s discovery in Berlin, Germany in 1938, gave rise to the possibility of the world’s first atomic bomb that was later used by Scientists to develop for the very first time ‘nuclear weapons’ for  World War II. The first nuclear weapon explosion (in the form of a test) took place on the 16th of July, 1945 and three weeks later, the world’s perception of the word ‘dynamic’ changed.

Nuclear weapons like Atomic bombs get their energy from the nuclear fission reaction. When a radioactive material’s atom splits into lighter atoms, it releases intense and powerful energy. Atomic bombs have been used only twice in war—both times by the United States against Japan at the end of World War II, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Growth in the use of nuclear energy followed that war, and during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union vied for supremacy in a global nuclear arms race.

Photos of nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War
Nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War (Wikipedia)

After a huge scar was engraved by ‘Little boy’ and ‘Fat man’, the world was left in shock over the potential a country can possess to destroy humanity for chunks of land to prove their power and ideology. The end of the Second World War was the beginning of the cold war that made humans realise the heavy cost they might pay if two countries clash together. This marked the beginning of the strong attempt by countries together to ban atomic weapons forever.

When the cold war was on its brink, countries like the USA, Soviet Union (now Russia), and the United Kingdom, signed the ‘Nuclear Test- Ban treaty’ in Moscow on 5th August 1963. This was the very first attempt made by countries to ban Nuclear weapons (except those conducted underground). At this time period, the United States and the Soviet Union were the majorly dominant atomic powers. The treaty banned the testing from getting conducted in outer space, land, and atmosphere, but it did not reduce nuclear stockpiles, or stop production of nuclear weapons, or restrict their use in the time of war. After this, several other treaties have also been put forward with hundreds of countries signing them, except for the countries that were loaded with stockpiles of atomic weapons. 

Fast forward to the current scenario

Soon, various countries started preparing their own nuclear weapons to keep their respective land ready for any kind of circumstance that compelled its use. These were the countries who abstained from signing all those treaties that mentioned the ban of nuclear weapons.m  The first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons entered into force on the 22nd of January, 2021 in the form of a historic attempt to get rid of the world’s deadliest weapons.

The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is now a part of international law. When the treaty was approved by the UN General assembly in July 2017, more than 120 countries approved it. But none of the nine countries known or believed to possess nuclear weapons including the USA, Russia, China, France, Pakistan, India, Japan, North Korea, and Israel supported it and neither did the 30- nation NATO alliance. 

The artistic depiction of an atomic bomb explosion

Why did these countries (including Japan, the only country to suffer from nuclear attack), refuse to support the treaty?

The chief cabinet secretary of Japan, Kato Katsunobu made it clear by addressing the fact that the approach put forward by the treaty and the regulations are completely different from that what Japan wants and on the other hand, India claims to be a country that is committed to a nuclear-weapon-free world and supports an International official withdrawal of global nuclear weapons, but at the same time the country believes that the current treaty does not take into account the proper verification process. The reason put forward by India is quite important.

Nuclear weapon testing by India at Pokhran in 1998 (India Strategic)

For instance, if today a country XYZ is made to sign the treaty and tomorrow it can no way use the weapons to protect its security if required (because we never know what might happen!).  Thus it’s really important to prescribe such verifications properly. If a country is made to give up nuclear weapons while its neighbor is stockpiled with loads of them, what can one do if they put forward an attack on a helpless nation?

What do you think about this matter? Please feel free to share your opinions with us. 


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