THE world is under perennial threat from weapons of mass destruction. The latest such threat to the planet’s extinction arises from India’s annexation of occupied Kashmir and New Delhi’s threats to Pakistan of waging nuclear war.

Since the 1950s the world has been a button away from total annihilation when the two super powers — USA and USSR — started a mad race to stockpile nuclear weapons in their big power rivalry. In the 1980s both countries had accumulated nearly 50,000 nuclear weapons between them which was enough to destroy earth several times over.

Thankfully, better sense prevailed and the US and USSR signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987. This treaty banned the production and usage of mid-range missiles. Thereafter, both countries began decommissioning and destroying a part of their nuclear arsenal.

Today the US and the Russian Federation — the USSR’s successor state — possess 12,685 nuclear weapons, still enough to destroy the earth many times. There are 1,200 nuclear weapons in the possession of the other nuclear powers which include Pakistan and India. Both countries combined possess more than 245 nuclear weapons, still enough to totally destroy the planet many times.

There is another development that is a threat to the world. US President Donald Trump has withdrawn his country from the INF treaty after accusing Russia of producing mid-range missiles thus violating the treaty. Russia has denied the allegations, and accused the US of violating the treaty by starting production of mid-range missiles in secret. The US has also said that it will soon deploy new mid-range missiles in Asia.

One hopes that the US and Russia act wisely, and renew the INF treaty. This measure will not only bring peace between them but serve as moral pressure on New Delhi and Islamabad to also resolve their differences through parleys.

Sajjad Waseer

Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2019