North Korea’s nuclear weapon is horribly immoral, India-Pakistan’s are barely acceptable, Israel’s are very very reasonable, France’s, UK’s, Russia’s and China’s are harmless, and US weapons are holy, beyond reproach. “This is terrible duplicity”, argues MOHAMMED ATAUR RAHMAN

Nuclear power, especially nuclear weaponry, is about hypocrisy, double speak and duplicity. Nuclear weapons of one group of countries are in "responsible" hands who will use (and have used) them for the benefit of humanity, while those of another are in "irresponsible" hands.

According to the nuclear moral hierarchy, the United States is the most morally appropriate to have nuclear weapons, because it is a responsible power. So are the other four "Russia, France, UK and China" to some degree.

The United States is a responsible power because it used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has been threatening over the decades to use them against China, Korea and Vietnam. Of late it has vaguely threatened to use nuclear weapons against Iran. In the meanwhile, it has used nuclear-tipped bullets in the first Gulf War, with devastating impact on the long-term health of survivors.

"Irresponsible" countries like India, Pakistan and Korea are yet to do that against anyone. There is a certain duplicity about the whole debate. Now that North Korea has tested its weapon there is a big furore (orchestrated by the five official nuclear powers). Countries like Israel, Pakistan and India, which have the weapons but don’t yet have the legitimacy of the five official powers.

 Does not all this hocus-pocus sound terribly insincere? The fact remains that the counterfeit moral outrage against North Korea is dishonest and unconvincing. The same holds true for the brouhaha against Iran’s attempt to enrich uranium, not for bomb-making as the five "official" nuclear powers do, but for generating energy.

What is surprising in all this is the Indian media’s mindless parroting of the "responsible power" mantra dished out by the United States, which allows its Israel to get away with murder, but would not allow "China’s Israel", Korea, that privilege.

The only sensible comment that one could come across on the issue over the last few days is contained in the editorial of CPM organ People’s Democracy’s latest edition: "After declaring itself a nuclear weapon state, India’s stand that other countries should not acquire nuclear weapons does not carry much conviction". If Israel can stockpile 200 plus nuclear weapons, how can India argue against Iran exercising its legitimate right to conduct uranium enrichment?"

Vijayanti Raghavan of the JNU, an expert on the Korean peninsula, suggests that the US is more to blame than North Korea. What would it do if President Truman and President Eisenhower threatened to bomb it with nuclear weapons, or US presidents following them placed 40,000 American soldiers and nuclear weapons in South Korea? Would they just sit and watch? Raghvan is right when she writes (Indian Express, Oct. 10, 2006), "one thing indisputably stands out: if North Korea is safe from invasion today, it is only because of its nuclear weapons."

The point here is not whether North Korea is a less "responsible" state than the US, but whether it would have done well to set itself up for attack like Iraq (where half a million Iraqis have already died because of the invasion). Finally, the question to be asked is not why North Korea did what it did, but when (and, whether) would the five official nuclear powers give up their arms and begin to practise what they preach to others.g

Go Back