In the nearly 70 years since the Americans detonated a plutonium nuclear bomb in the desert of Los Alamos, the destructive power of the world’s nuclear arsenals have taken such a quantum leap that – terrible as it was – the uranium device that exploded over Hiroshima looks like a mere fire cracker. And in the same time geopolitics have been guided by an arms race that has sucked up ridiculous amounts of time, money and resources in the name of what?
The militarists and their backers in the military-industrial complex that President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about in his farewell speech will say national and international security. The doves, the peaceniks and the Greens will say money, power and prestige.
The reality is not quite in the court of either camp, though I am guessing it is probably closer to that of the doves/peaceniks and their Green Party allies. There will always be a need for a military establishment in every nation. No self respecting nation would ever go without one.
It does have to be said, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, especially in the U.S. and former U.S.S.R. during the Cold War on one hand very nearly brought the world to the nuclear abyss in 1962 and 1983. But the sheer horror at what these weapons can do ultimately prevented a radioactive holocaust. During the 46 years of the Cold War, nuclear weapons went from being cumbersome things that could only be dropped one at a time from bombers that could barely get out of the way of the explosion to being able to be delivered from missile silos thousands of kilometres from the target with multiple warheads attached to a single missile.
Does the world really need a nuclear club that can currently count the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Pakistan, India, North Korea, Israel with host of others who are suspected or known to have the capacity to build nuclear weapons? The answer is a resounding, thunderous NO.
And where does New Zealand sit amongst this? 30 years ago, there was no doubt at all about where New Zealand’s position was. Since then Governments have come and gone. Now? At the United Nations Security Council table squandering an unprecedented opportunity to restore the respect that many nations around the world bestowed on us after telling the world we would not have a bar of nuclear armed or powered ships in our waters. It is a rare, but whole hearted nod to Judith Collins, a National Party Member of Parliament and former Minister of Justice, and the short but brilliant piece of prose she wrote in the Sunday Star-Times (05 April 2015).
I accept it would probably be impossible to get the permanent five members of the United Nations Security Council to give up their nuclear weapons, but it would be really, REALLY good to see the outsiders such as Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea get rid of theirs. And to make sure that anyone else who tries to acquire these bastardly weapons is firmly denied them. If that means U.N. sanctioned inspections of ships in international waters suspected of transporting uranium or plutonium; ensuring that no other nation that does not already have enough of them is unable to obtain centrifuges either by embargoes or Security Council sanctioned seizures, so be it.
And I think the 2053 nuclear explosions between 1945 and 1998, plus the three North Korea have done since, are quite plenty. There are better things for the world to spend its money on that nuclear weapons.