Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Living in a "second nuclear age"

Without a will, there is no way, insists Jonathan Schell. As the Peace and Disarmament Correspondent with the New York based weekly The Nation, he insists that the only way to escape a nuclear apocalypse is not have any nuclear weapons. As simple as that.

“I do not want to fool myself and say that it’s going to happen soon for no one is seriously committed to attaining the zero. But it’s the only workable goal,” said Schell, who was one of the recipients of the Nuclear-Free Future Awards on Sunday.

Concerned about George Bush’s policy to use force to achieve disarmament, he added that, if Bush had his way, the world was set to fight a series of “disarmament wars”. “The earlier administration had a diplomatic approach, even if piteously inadequate, with the NPT and Seoul talks but this one is moving energetically in the mistaken direction,” he added.

Schell also pointed out that the nuclear threat could no longer be viewed in a bipolar matrix, as during the Cold War when the US and the USSR piled up nuclear weapons. “We are living in a second nuclear age, where the points of danger are not just the two sides. It could arise anywhere where competent scientists could absorb the science published everywhere,” he said. “It is a human problem that arises when people read about how to build nuclear weapons in scientific textbooks and fall to the temptation to build them,” Schell added.

Having reported on the Vietnam War for The New Yorker, Schell said that it “wouldn’t take more than the fingers of a hand” to count the number of publications in the US who “flatly” rejected the Iraq war at its outset as illegal and wrong. “It was a real abdication of journalistic independence that left a journalistic vacuum,” he recollected, referring to the corporate influence on the mainstream press. This vacuum, Schell added, was filled by journals such as The Nation, whose circulation in the last year has gone up to around 1,70,000.

While receiving the award on Sunday, he called upon India and Pakistan to show the way to nuclear disarmament by engaging other nuclear powers in a free-ranging discussion. “Maybe you in the South can succeed where we in the North have failed,” he said.

One of my reports for Hindustan Times


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