Nuclear disarmament is a burning question of the day. Common people all over the world want peace, not war. But still, they fear that a nuclear war may break out at any point at any moment. And the root of such fear lies in the strategy of the statesmen and the warmongers who run the race in stock-piling nuclear armaments, though the fact is—if such a war begins, it will destroy the whole world.
The question of nuclear disarmament arose sometime after the Second World War (1939-1945) ended by destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki of Japan by two atom bombs of the USA. People hoped that permanent peace would prevail in the world after that dreadful war. The United Nations was formed for that purpose. But in fact, a Cold War began between them superpowers—the USA and the erstwhile Soviet Union. They made experiments of more powerful nuclear weapons to display their power and stockpiled these arms.
Peace-loving people of the world—including the great scientist Albert Einstein and the great philosopher Bertrand Russell—raised their united voice of protest against the manufacture of these destructive weapons. They appealed to the two rival superpowers to stop these dreadful measures which might lead to a nuclear war. Then followed the discussions in the United Nations urging the two superpowers for disarmament. After that, there were discussions in the summit meetings of the non-aligned nations and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) appealing the two superpowers to stop the arms race. But there was no positive response.
At last Ronald Reagan, President of the USA, and Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Supreme Soviet, agreed to meet to find a solution. They agreed to eliminate all medium-range missiles with a capacity to reach targets between 300 and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km). The agreement was signed by the two leaders. It is known as the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF treaty). It was only a modest beginning in real disarmament because intermediate-range missiles formed only less than five per cent of each superpower’s nuclear arsenal. Then the process started to achieve a Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). This treaty was targetted to eliminate half of each nation’s big ballistic missiles which threatened the of the whole world.
A special session of the UN was held at this time on disarmament. Some world leaders from Japan, Argentina, Zimbabwe, Greece, and India hailed the Moscow summit and called for more such measures including a halt to nuclear testing. Rajib Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, while speaking at this session of the UN, urged that the elimination of all nuclear weapons should be completed by the year 2010. A group of six nations—India, Greece, Sweden, Algeria, Argentina and Mexico—launched the five continent peace initiative, and called for the establishment of a system within the UN framework for verification of disarmament agreement.
President Reagan did not like to have a discussion on his favourite Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI)—commonly known as Star Wars. Mr Gorbachav was not pleased with this attitude. He remarked that the world would gain nothing in a nuclear war, having changed place from earth to outer space. But his scientific advisers remarked that Star War programme would not be advanced far because American experts felt that it was not possible to have a perfect defence shield against nuclear missiles. However, if President Reagan wanted to go ahead with his Star War programme. Moscow would take measures to defend its own interest. Meanwhile George Bush appeared as the President of the USA. At last, on 31 July 1991, the two leaders signed a treaty in Moscow. They agreed to cut 30% of the long-range nuclear weapons. Mr Gorbachav declared that henceforth there would be an end of the Cold War between the two countries. Mr Bush promised better ho relations in the political field, and to send all possible economic help to USSR.
The INF and START were small beginnings to eliminate nuclear weapons totally. Then came the CTBT to ban nuclear test for some countries in the Third World. But India disputed it claiming it is followed by all the countries including the superpowers. It is hoped that good sense will prevail and the superpowers will, in the long run, stop the race of nuclear weapons to save the world from annihilation. The sooner the long-waited day comes, dan the better it is for the whole world.