Einstein once said that war was inevitable among powerful sovereign nations. But given the right leadership, they can eliminate nuclear weapons.
It was 73 years ago on August 6, that the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima in Japan, followed by August 9 with a similar bomb dropped on the city of Nagasaki.
An article by Kennette Benedict published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists concludes that “individual countries should take actions to reduce their dependence on nuclear weapons; they provide only an illusion of national security in any event.”
Unless those powers which have the largest arsenals of nuclear weapons, take the initiative of reducing the nuclear weaponry that they possess, there will be efforts all over the world, some overt and others clandestine, which will only enhance the possibilities of nuclear destruction several times over.
In a spine-chilling video, William Perry, former US Secretary of Defence, provides a dramatic description of an underground facility for enrichment of uranium for a total quantity of 40 kg of material, where a breakaway security faction of a country is working at the goal of 90 percent enrichment. The fuel thus produced is moved to another lab where nuclear bombs are assembled. The bomb is then put into a crate and labelled as agricultural equipment and sent to an airport.
Two weeks later, this consignment is moved to a civilian cargo aircraft and transported to Dubai and then transferred to be flown to Washington, DC. Once this equipment reaches its destination of Dulles International Airport, it is moved to a warehouse in Washington, DC, and the next morning, the bomb is uncrated and moved to a delivery vehicle. This is then driven in a truck to a location on Pennsylvania Avenue. The lady driver gets off the truck and triggers an explosion of the nuclear device which has the power of 40 kilotonnes.
A total of 80,000 people, according to William Perry, die instantly, including the US President, Vice President, the Speaker of the House and over 300 members of the Congress.
This is followed by major news channels receiving a message which claims that there are five more bombs in other cities of the US which would also go off unless the US recalls all its military personnel from all over the world.
William Perry’s dramatisation may seem like a horror story based entirely on fiction but any rational thinker would accept this as a possibility.
On the 73rd anniversary of the tragic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is time for the leadership of all countries to make serious efforts at nuclear disarmament. Nuclear war would really spell the destruction of everything on the planet because the power of nuclear weaponry across the world is so devastating and enormous that nothing would survive in a war, where undoubtedly, restraint would not be exercised by any side and the world would be destroyed several times over.
At the end of the Second World War, Einstein gave strong support to organisations fighting against militarism and nuclear weapons in particular. In 1946, he became chair of the newly-formed Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists, which adopted as its major mission providing education on the dangers of atomic weapons.
Then in 1955, Bertrand Russell approached Einstein suggesting that a group of scientists get together to discuss nuclear disarmament and ways in which wars could be abolished. Such a meeting took place in 1957 in Pugwash, Nova Scotia.
Just before his death in 1955, Einstein and 10 other scientists, of whom nine were Nobel Laureates, signed an initial statement called the Russell-Einstein Manifesto which urged abolition not only of atomic weapons but also of war itself, regardless of what they termed as the necessary “distasteful limitations of national sovereignty.”
Einstein stated: “As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable. That is not an attempt to say when it will come, but only that it is sure to come. That was true before the atomic bomb was made. What has changed is the destructiveness of war.” Similar to Einstein’s regrets and concerns was the remorse suffered by J Robert Oppenheimer.
He stated: “If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and of Hiroshima.”
In a meeting with President Harry Truman in October 1945, Oppenheimer was in a state of anguish and said that “Mr President, I feel I have blood on my hands.” To this, President Truman said that “the blood is on my hands” and that Oppenheimer should let the President worry about that. He then got rid of Oppenheimer and gave instructions that he should never be allowed to see the President again.
The World Academy of Art and Science was established in 1960. This was the result of many conversations that took place among leading scientists and intellectuals in the years following World War II for creating an academic body that provided knowledge and wisdom to ensure world peace.
In a world where instant communication and the power of the social media ignore deep contemplation of challenges confronting human society, we should not lose sight of the drivers of danger that we see around us.
In this fateful week of August, when two cities in Japan were obliterated with unprecedented human loss and suffering, it is time for us to foresee the complete destruction of this planet by today’s nuclear weapons States, new entrants to the club and terrorist groups.
To a large extent, perhaps Einstein was right when he said that as long as sovereign nations possessed power, war was inevitable. But it is possible through the enlightened leadership of at least a few that we ensure the widespread agreement of all sovereign nations to do away with the nuclear weapons.
Einstein did not have much to say about peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In 1945, he wrote: “To give any estimate when atomic energy can be applied to constructive purposes is impossible. … Since I do not foresee that atomic energy is to be a great boon for a long time, I have to say that for the present it is a menace.”
The stockpile of nuclear weapons today is not just a menace, it is armageddon waiting in the wings.
Writer: R.K. Pachauri
Courtesy: The Pioneer