When any nation builds its arms stock other nations
are forced to do the same in fear and for the sake of defense. Alliances
are formed on this basis and such alliances often lead to war. It
is imperative that measures be taken to ensure disarmament.
The leading world powers’ expenditure on weapons
is astronomical. The military expenditure of the United States and
the Soviet Union in 1987 was 293 billion and 260 billion
dollars respectively. A recent World Bank Report discloses that
the world spends more than one trillion dollars (1,000,000,000,000,000,000)
on the military and its upkeep. Developing countries also spend
huge amounts on defense.
Conventional weapons did cause destruction, however
their effects were limited. Modern nuclear weapons have ghastly
after effects. Hence disarmament is of utmost importance today.
On August 6, 1945, America released an atomic bomb
on Hiroshima in Japan. The fiery ball with a temperature of one
million degrees centigrade transformed the place into a furnace,
causing colossal destruction leaving 78,150 dead. The effects of
atomic radiation, intense heat and the blinding light of the explosion
were infertility, temporary impairment of vision and cancer in those
who could come through the disaster. High levels of radiation emit
from the bombarded sites because of which these places have become
useless for dwelling. Besides, air and water carry the radioactive
particles to places far from the site and cause damage to all living
Radioactivity causes genetic changes also and results
in the birth of babies with grotesque forms. The world powers
today have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads whose destructive capability
equals a million Hiroshima bombs. A nuclear war may, thus, mean
the total annihilation of our planet.
It was the Hiroshima and Nagasaki disasters that
aroused world opinion for disarmament. Formerly it was only the
US that had nuclear capability. Today countries like Israel, Brazil,
South Africa, India and Pakistan have acquired nuclear potential.
In fact, in May 1998 both the South Asian countries of India and
Pakistan who are not signatories to the CTBT (Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty) exploded nuclear devices to test their capabilities.
Efforts are on to get them to agree to sign the CTBT at the earliest.
The amount of money spent by developing countries
on nuclear arms is disturbing because more acute problems like unemployment,
malnutrition, disease and poverty are neglected. Here is where the
UN should step in firmly.