India and Disarmament at 2.5 Minutes to Midnight

Anarchist Alexander Berkman in his War Dictionary defined Militarism as: “Christianity in action.” It holds more true today in Indian context where Militarism is Hindutva in action. Much more so in the case of Nuclear Weapons (NW) militarism.  Jan Sangh was calling for having NWs before China, let alone Pakistan had them. The NW fetish in India is a direct outgrowth of Hindu Militarism of Sangh and their predecessors – not of any genuine security concern.

Without dwelling into the important history of the development of Indian nuclear weapons programs and policies and the role of US in it, it would be better to concentrate on most recent events. India has one of the fasted growing nuclear arsenal in the world. It is not the signatory of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) – along with Pakistan and Israel – all Nuclear Weapons States (NWS). Although NPT is rightly criticized for a lot of its shortcoming, one of which is the absence of implementation of Article VI, which obliges all states party to pursue negotiations “in good faith” on effective measures for nuclear disarmament

Under the shadow of the Bomb

Ex-commander of the US Strategic Air Command, General Lee Butler, concluded that we have so far survived the nuclear age “by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”  For more information on how close we are to a Nuclear War or (more likely) an accidental trigger see the following links:  Graham T. Allison, Nuclear Terrorism expert; Eric Schlosser, investigative journalist;  Ward Wilson of the Rethinking Nuclear Weapons project.

The Recent Doomsday Clock statement noted “Even as the Iran agreement was hammered out, tensions between the United States and Russia rose to levels reminiscent of the worst periods of the Cold War. Conflict in Ukraine and Syria continued, accompanied by dangerous bluster and brinkmanship, with Turkey, a NATO member, shooting down a Russian warplane involved in Syria, the director of a state-run Russian news agency making statements about turning the United States to radioactive ash, and NATO and Russia repositioning military assets and conducting significant exercises with them. Washington and Moscow continue to adhere to most existing nuclear arms control agreements, but the United States, Russia, and other nuclear weapons countries are engaged in programs to modernize their nuclear arsenals, suggesting that they plan to keep and maintain the readiness of their nuclear weapons for decades, at least—despite their pledges, codified in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to pursue nuclear disarmament.

“The fast pace of technological change makes it incumbent on world leaders to pay attention to the control of emerging science that could become a major threat to humanity.” And situation has only worsen under the Trump administration.

In India’s context the change in rhetoric and signals from policy-makers suggest the people in control of NWs are a reckless bunch as stupid a the Trump administration, if not worse. Talks of moving away from No-First-Strike policy by previous Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar are well known and remarks by Shivshankar Menon, National Security Advisor for UPA 2, confirm that India at anytime can change this policy which could have no foreseeable good effects.  MIT professor Vipin Narang, said in a lecture last month that India could launch a “preemptive first strike if it fears a nuclear attack is imminent. –  a marked reversal of the No-First-Use policy” Also noticing that “relations between India and Pakistan are at lowest” since at least a decade.

In New York

On March 27th in New York City, UN negotiations for a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons” will begin.

From The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

“How did we reach this historic turning point? Ireland, together with Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, and South Africa, first put forward the idea of a nuclear-weapon ban treaty at an NPT meeting in 2014. Such a ban, they said, would operate alongside and in support of the NPT and constitute one of a number of effective measures needed to eliminate nuclear weapons. “A prohibition on nuclear weapons is a logical and moral imperative,” the Irish disarmament ambassador, Patricia O’Brien, has said. “It is also a legal imperative, stemming from Article VI of the NPT.”
In the UN General Assembly last December, it became clear that a great majority of NPT members supported the proposed treaty. They voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution establishing the mandate for negotiations. The new treaty, when adopted, will place nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as other weapons of mass destruction, which have long been prohibited under international law. Proponents hope that it will greatly strengthen the global norm against nuclear weapons and spur much-needed action toward their abolition.
The negotiations are a necessary response to the deep concern expressed by all NPT members in 2010 at the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” that would result from any use of nuclear weapons. In the final document of that year’s NPT review conference, they affirmed the need “to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.” After decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament efforts, the ban negotiations are a major opportunity for NPT states to contribute toward full implementation of Article VI.
Of course, some NPT members vehemently oppose the initiative, recognizing that it will fundamentally challenge the perception that their reliance on nuclear weapons is legitimate. Last October, the United States “strongly encourage[d]” its NATO allies to vote against the start of negotiations. “In addition, if negotiations do commence, we ask allies and partners to refrain from joining them,” the US government said in a paper explaining how the ban would make it more difficult for NATO members to cooperate in preparations for nuclear war.
It is likely that several US allies will obediently comply with this request. Australia, for example, said on March 2 that it plans to boycott the talks, as it “would not be able to negotiate in good faith.” But others will form an independent view. For example, the Netherlands, which hosts US nuclear weapons on its soil, said on February 27 that it “has chosen to take part constructively, with an open mind and without being naïve.” This is the responsible course of action for any nation wishing to uphold the NPT and prevent its further disintegration.
The greatest threat to the NPT today comes not from the negotiation of a ban treaty—as some nations have disingenuously claimed—but rather from the continued failure of the nuclear weapon states, and many of their allies, to take seriously their disarmament obligations. The NPT is not a licence for certain nations to retain nuclear weapons forevermore, or for others to indefinitely claim the “protection” of an ally’s nuclear weapons.
Recent threats of a new nuclear arms race and ongoing programs to replace old nuclear warheads with ever-deadlier ones cause much damage to the NPT, as does the ill-considered boycott of the forthcoming UN negotiations. At a moment of great global uncertainty and instability, negotiating a ban on the very worst weapons of mass destruction is more crucial and urgent than ever. States should strive to achieve the most robust and effective treaty possible.”

As India is not a NPT member this has no direct bearing on India’s arsenal. But if something fruitful comes out of these negotiations that would change the global atmosphere of concern surrounding NWs significantly. These negotiations aside Indian Anarchists and other concern citizens should come together and eliminate this monster of nuclear weapons. This, a colossal task in itself which will be much more austere under this administration.

In India, Nuclear Disarmament is not only an issue of nation, international security and, above all, of human survival; but is also deeply tied in with the fight against the Right and the ruling class in general. It would be a grave mistake to see it as something separate from other Indian social justice issues. And anyone willing to employ themself in this task should be prepared for “Sedition”. Which Berkman in the Dictionary calls “The proof of Tyranny.”