Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Perspective: Nuclear proliferation -- an element of business and devastation | Rameez Raja

The generally held notion or perception regarding nuclear energy being a cheap source of energy and nukes being important for deterrence is a myth or a misnomer.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | Int'l Desk
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By Rameez Raja | April 1, 2018

Iran is held not only a rival to the United States and Israel, but a Muslim state, Saudi Arabia has been also depicted as an enemy of Iran. However, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman has discredited the claims of any rivalry between the two countries. The religious disparities have widened the relations between the two Muslim states which might result in acquisition of nukes by Saudi Arabia. There is a tendency that in case Iran develops nuclear warheads, it might persuade Saudi Arabia to join the nuclear club. The Saudi Prince has made it very clear that “Saudi Arabia does not want to acquire any nuclear bombs, but if Iran takes any such initiative, we will follow the suit”. Nevertheless, leader of Iran, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the procurement, development or use of nukes.

The United States is providing the help to Riyadh in nuclear development for peaceful purposes and there have been talks between the two countries for the establishment of 16 nuclear plants at an expense of whooping 80 billion dollars. But experts are worried that Saudi might manufacture nukes as it does not abide by the internationals protocols on uranium enrichment and plutonium extraction. At the other side, the United States under Trump administration is reluctant to show confidence for a nuclear deal with Iran despite other states are willing to proceed with the deal.

The question is, who will get more benefited if Saudi attains the status of being a nuclear state? The United States and Israel might get benefited because of their intense rivalry with Iran and might also pass the buck to Saudi to balance-out or tame Iran. However, both the Muslim states might end up destroying their economies, if indulged in the maddening nuclear arms race and might not need any external force to destroy them. Apart from destroying their resource bases and ecology, the arms race between the two countries might result in a nuclear exchange in future. The truth is that it is the nuclear industry which would get benefitted being the source and supplier of nuclear equipment to these two rival states. In other words, it is all about capital accumulation.

A lot of ink has been spilled writing about the nuclear issues in the past. The realists and the neo-realists have supported the nuclear deterrence for avoiding major wars between the rival states. However, it is very important for deterrence that leaders of nuclear states to behave rationally; which is difficult to figure out.

The generally held notion or perception regarding nuclear energy being a cheap source of energy and nukes being important for deterrence is a myth or a misnomer. Nuclear energy, whether, used for civilian purposes or for weapons development remains an instrument of profit and destruction. The nuclear industry worldwide is busy supplying nuclear equipment to states which do not even fall under the purview of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

Scott Sagan’s edited work Inside Nuclear South Asia predicts a worst future for South Asia owing to the risk-laden policies of India and Pakistan. In addition, there is a news that Bangladesh will receive help from India for its nuclear development programme. The failure of nuclear energy being a cheap source of electricity generation, raises questions regarding Bangladesh trying to turn nuclear. The hunch is that India’s nuclear help to Bangladesh might result into its acquisition of nukes in order to threaten Pakistan; keeping in view the benefits China might reap if North Korea develops a strong nuclear arsenal against the United States, as it is already passing the buck to Pakistan to balance-out India.

The issue of nuclear proliferation bears no meaning at all as the nuclear industries with the support from their respective governments either directly or indirectly collaborate with non-nuclear states in the name of peaceful utilization are spreading nuclear know-how for their own vested interests. Nuclear weapons, whether in the hands of rational/ irrational leaders or democratic/undemocratic states are destructive in nature and the fact is that the world is headed towards a nuclear omnicide owing to the flawed policies of respective nuclear states. Majority of people across the world are unaware of the consequences the nuclear commerce can pose to them in future as people grappling with poverty hardly bother to think about all these things.

The scientists and engineers involved in the nuclear business always try to hide the truth from the common people as for them it is all about fame and money. Nowadays, governments are encouraging and awarding scientists dealing with security rather than those working for peace and other social issues, which clearly reflects it being mere nuclear politics. The governments worldwide provide free access to nuclear speakers to use their resources for the so-called security, deterrence, and generating cheap electricity. The reality, however, is to win the confidence of the people for domestic politics which in turn might result into destruction at a large scale owing to organizational biases, poor decision-making, intense rivalry, and unresolved crisis.

Majority of the academic journals which highlight the bad consequences of nuclear energy do not have free access to public and find a small readership. However, newspapers can be an important medium for the dissemination of information and can play vital role in busting the myth behind nuclear energy being pollution-free and cheap source of energy. The fact is that nuclear energy has failed to reduce the carbon emissions in the atmosphere but has added unwanted substances like Argon-41 and tritium into it. Apart from that the nuclear waste is dumped into rivers, polluting water. Further, people living within the vicinity of nuclear plants are diagnosed with several health problems caused by nuclear radiation.

After thirty years of Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the nuclear plants in the area are being replaced by solar farms and it is estimated that 1MW Chernobyl solar farm project will cost around 1.2 million dollars and will feature 3,800 photovoltaic panels. The project will benefit around 2000 households by providing them with electricity, which is a good initiative and a model for other nuclear states to start funding and research on solar energy as an alternate to nuclear energy.


Rameez Raja is pursuing Ph. D at Department of Political Science, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He specializes in India’s nuclear policy. He is from Nasirabad, Kashmir and is currently holding the position of Nazim Ishaat of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Delhi. His writings have previously appeared in Rising Kashmir, CafĂ© Dissensus Everyday, Kafila, South Asia Journal, Foreign Policy News, Modern Diplomacy, Pakistan Observer, Kashmir Observer, and Kashmir Monitor. Email ID: rameezrajaa23@gmail.com

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