Is nuclear arms control a distant dream?

Samar Fatany

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Geopolitical analysts warn us that the continued spread of chemical and ballistic missile technologies in the world is a very serious global security threat. There is hardly any progress on nuclear disarmament. The five recognized nuclear weapons states still have 22,000 warheads in their combined stockpile and they are reluctant to disarm further.

High-ranking officials in the United Nations admit that they are unable to stop states using nuclear reactors to produce nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, ( NPT), which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons technology and to implement nuclear disarmament, could not stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons or the motivation to acquire them. However it continues to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Meanwhile people have lost faith in the arms control agreements and many critics consider them a delusion.

Going nuclear

Political analysts are critical of the failure of nuclear weapon states to disarm themselves of nuclear weapons, especially in the post–Cold War era. Unfortunately, their failure, provided the non-nuclear-weapon states reasons to develop their own nuclear arsenals.

The United States possesses several hundred tactical nuclear warheads, approximately 180 are nuclear gravity bombs stored in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey). Russia retains an estimated 2,000 usable nonstrategic weapons, which it claims are stored on Russian territory. Israel has more than 200 nuclear warheads.

The sectarian disputes in Syria and Iraq are not settled with fistfights anymore, the weapons of mass destruction have become the norm to settle disputes.

Samar Fatany

The United States and Russia have not agreed on additional measures to share information on or limit their tactical nuclear weapons. The two countries in March 1997 attempted to explore measures relating to tactical nuclear weapons, however they did not come to an agreement. In June 2005, Russia put new conditions to the talks on tactical nuclear weapons to the US withdrawal of its remaining nuclear weapons in Europe. The United States has said these weapons are deployed as part of NATO policy and that a decision to withdraw them would need to be taken by all alliance members.

Meanwhile the two superpowers continue their arms race and they choose countries like Syria and Iraq to test their weapons of mass destruction.

Conflicts and wars are raging and the cycle of revenge goes on radicalizing more and more people with futile attempts towards any peaceful solutions or willingness to give peace a chance.

In the Arab world the nuclear threat is more real than ever before. Israel has gone too far with the antagonistic policy of settlements and its deliberate abuse of human rights. The sectarian disputes in Syria and Iraq are not settled with fistfights anymore, the weapons of mass destruction have become the norm to settle disputes. There are many conflicts that exist in the Middle East. The policy of genocide in Israel, the confrontation between Iran and the U.S., the uprisings in Egypt, Tunis and Libya, poverty, unemployment, and human rights abuse are some of the reasons why anger and rage is rampant in the streets of these countries.

What is alarming is the fact that societies have become used to the violence that exists and the availability of arms does not give peace a chance. The cycle of revenge goes on and the violence never ends.

No war, just violence

Even in societies where there is no war the violence is prevalent among the youth. There have been major mass killings because of the availability of arms in many societies. Hollywood movies present a romantic aura to violence and war. Kids are hooked to violent video games and parents are unable to control the violent behavior in their children.

The entire world is called upon to mobilize a collective movement to cure the violence that has inflicted the global community and continues to threaten the future of our innocent children, destroying the once peaceful and joyous environment.

Muslim communities must not fall into the trap of armed struggles. There is always another alternative to violence. Communities need to be aware of the enemies that are behind it and defuse the rage and anger. Our world today is threatened with the existence of greedy arms dealers, who gain by instigating conflicts, terrorists with evil intentions and manipulating politicians with selfish motives and hidden agendas.

There is a dire need to address the violence that has become accepted as an appropriate and even expected way to solve conflicts in our world today. More awareness campaigns and community events are needed to convey a clear and strong message that violence is not a solution and supporting it is unacceptable. We need to shift the national discourse toward the view of violence as a disease and place the emphasis on finding solutions to end this epidemic.

Meanwhile the superpowers must lead by example and dispose of the stockpile of nuclear weapons and stop the research and production of non-nuclear weapons. In 1925 the Geneva Conference led to the banning of chemical weapons (as toxic gases) during war as part of the Geneva Protocol. The Geneva Protocol was one of the more respected treaties, but still nations continue to violate it at will. Enforcement has not been consistent and it did not apply to all. Sanctions were imposed against political enemies, and ignored by their political allies. The use of chemical weapons in abundance in Iraq and Afghanistan is unforgivable.

World leaders are called upon to respect the universal term of Arms control which includes restrictions on development, production, stockpiling, proliferation, and usage of weapons especially weapons of mass destruction.

They must put an end to the arms race that continues despite several arms control treaties and agreements to limit the damage done by warfare, massacring civilians and destroying the environment, with lethal consequences for all participants regardless of who wins the war.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 28, 2013.

Samar Fatany is a Chief Broadcaster in the English section at Jeddah Broadcasting Station. Over the past 28 years, she has introduced many news, cultural, and religious programs and has conducted several interviews with official delegations and prominent political personalities visiting the kingdom. Fatany has made significant contributions in the fields of public relations and social awareness in Saudi Arabia and has been involved in activities aiming at fighting extremism and enhancing women’s role in serving society. She has published three books:“Saudi Perceptions & Western Misconceptions,” “Saudi Women towards a new era” and “Saudi Challenges & Reforms.”

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.