Global Security and Nuclear Disarmament: An Overview

16 Mar, 1998    ·   70

Maj. Gen. Dipankar Banerjee (Retd.) reports on an exchange of views between international participants in a seminar held at the United Services Institution

A workshop of Global Security and Nuclear Disarmament was held from 2-6 Mar 98 under the auspices of the Oxford Research Group (ORG) and the United Services Institution (USI), India . It was held at the Neemrana Palace Hotel, Rajasthan, some 100 kms away from Delhi . This provided an opportunity for a free and frank discussion between participants from UK , USA , Russia , China , India , Pakistan , Australia , New Zealand , Israel , Switzerland and Canada .



Shri J. N. Dixit, former Foreign Secretary of India was the first keynote speaker. According to him the reality of the post Cold War world was the international dominance by the USA and its overwhelming influence. Not before 2010 would the nuclear weapon powers begin to agree to any proposal for a major reduction of nuclear weapons. This will not include its elimination. A few conditions were necessary to bring about global elimination. First, a mind change on the part of the nuclear weapons powers. Second, to ensure that no loopholes were left that will nullify the agreement. Third, that the UN Security Council should not have the power of veto on nuclear weapons issues. Finally, technology should be accessible to all.



Dr. Lewis Dunn, Vice Chairman of the SAIC presented a paper "Beyond the Nuclear Age, Politics, Inertia and Action." He examined two aspects of elimination, political and physical. While physical elimination was possible, it would still take a long time. But, political elimination was even more difficult to achieve. A major obstacle was what he termed as political inertia.



The presentation from the Russian delegation was by Dr Anatoli S. Diakov, Professor of Physics in the Department of General Physics and the Director of the Centre of Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Lt. General Vladimir Verhovtsev, First Deputy Director, 12th Department (Nuclear Weapons?), MOD, Moscow. Prof Diakov said that to replace nuclear deterrence, there was need first for trust between nations. Basis of relations between nations should be; non-intervention in internal relations, human rights observance, sanctity of national borders and balance of power. It is also important to ensure a principle of consensus and non-deployment of nuclear weapons in non-Nato countries in Europe .



General Verhovtsev said that nuclear weapons should be seen in a historical perspective. Nuclear weapons were indeed not useful, but their elimination was another extreme. Will elimination actually help? No, this will not lead to a stable situation. Nuclear weapons were legitimate for national defence and nations needed to return these for their own security. No fixed number could be laid down for any nation. But their numbers could be reduced. Once the number go down, one will tend to forget about nuclear weapons. A rational minimum quantity would be determined by several factors. Present reduction process was adequate. Unless the world discovered an alternative, nuclear weapons will remain useful. Alternative weapons will also not make deterrence effective. We need more time to bring this about.



Question and answer highlighted the anxieties regarding the expansion of the NATO. Russians, Chinese and Indian participants expressed their opinion that this was an unwise step that will lead to further tension in Europe and the World.



The Seminar participants strongly felt that a world without nuclear weapons was a desirable goal. But, there was serious difference of views as to how to bring this about.