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HUMANIST POSITION ON NUCLEAR TESTING IN INDIA

For Non-violent Camapign Against Nuclear Tests and Nuclear Weaponisation, co-ordinated by hundreds of organisations.

May 98

1) The Indian government is run by a political party that does not represent the whole of the Indian population. This is seen by the percentage of registered voters who voted for such party, as compared to the whole population. Nobody other than a few opportunist politicians see gain in nuclearisation. Even those who voted for that party do not necessarily agree with BJP's stand on nuclear weapons and their use. Also, by opposing a particular policy of a particular party in power, one is not anti-national. People of India cannot fall prey to the frenzy of pseudo-nationalism that is being whipped up by the government and the pro-nuclear lobby. There was no transparency in this government decision, and much less will be in those other decisions that may follow, and that may cost India a nuclear war.

2) India now faces a very high cost of loss of political credibility. Increased international pressures and the withholding of investment and technology could jeopardise India's role in the global economic marketplace.

3) Many non-nuclear countries with a long commitment to disarmament such as New Zealand, Japan and Sweden and members of the Non-Aligned movement have also been active to express their strong condemnation of India's nuclear tests. Besides, India has betrayed the trust and expectations of people all over the world of playing a leading role in disturbing a peaceful, nuclear weapons free international relations. India has also forfeited the opportunity and historical responsibility to lead the march towards a more humane, peaceful world.

4) The nuclear non-proliferation regime is certainly discriminatory and has not been successful in halting either vertical or horizontal proliferation, but this is not in itself a justification for proceeding with the nuclear weapons option. Countries that have been sympathetic to India's valid concerns about the nature of the non-proliferation regime will not be prepared to brook this as an excuse for resuming testing.

5) Everywhere in the world the conscientious people must try to restrain nuclear weapon nations. The powerholders in India also should be actively opposed, who pursue hawkish policies while paying lip service to Peace Disarmament and a Nuclear Weapons free world. It is the people's power which can counter any attempts for destructive nuclear power and weapons.

6) By adopting the policy of the "big stick," Indian government falls in line with the law of the jungle pursued so far by superpowers. Now superpowers may be seen as justified in applying the same policy on India if she threatens so-called "strategic interests."

7) The Pokhran Fallout! The tests have unnecessarily put the country into an arms race with heavy future costs. Now in the new budget of 1998-99 defence allocation has gone up (by 14 per cent to Rs 41,200 crores). Can anybody protest it? To bridge the consequent increase in deficit, taxes have gone up. Should anybody complain? All this, will result in all round increase in prices, the people of the country should sportingly swallow it up.

8) There are two Indias. One can make much of the world's software, build computers, attend universities. The other can barely feed itself or send it's children to school. Rich India is having a nuclear bomb party and the poor will get the hangover.

9) Now our country is a proud nuclear power while, more than ever, its babies will die of illnesses brought about by malnutrition, illiteracy that will make people easier prey of fundamentalism, the quality of life will keep on deteriorating making casualties due to pollution, lack of drinkable water, public health services and work hazards. And all this will not be brought about by karma or natural disasters, but will be the outcome of greedy politicians in power.

10) The nuclear tests are being linked to national pride and glory??? The real glory would have been the availability of clean drinking water, housing, employment, minimum health services and education opportunities. Has the government sought a convenient way out for diverting attention from basic issues by projecting an issue which has nothing to do with the basic problems of this country?

11) The risk of accident or accidental use of nuclear weapons, particularly in times of tension, is ever present. The nuclear weapons infrastructure also imposes large financial costs on society, along with an environmental legacy for future generations. These costs detract from spendings that are critically needed in other sectors.

12) The voice of the vast majority Indian people, peace-loving as they are, is threatened, muzzled and unheard due to this kind of blatant show of nuclear power. Political power is used as a poor substitute of brain power, of the power of satya.

13) There were instances in Mumbai and Bangalore where volunteers of non-violent groups were attacked while making a non-violent protest against India's nuclear test. Have we become so intolerant? Those who protested against nuclear test were condemned as anti-national. Who is anti-national, in reality? Anti-national are those who use jingoistic and chauvinistic rhetoric for short-lived political gains. Anti-national are those who threaten the country with nuclear destruction. Anti-national are those who provide opportunity so that others "justify" their nuclear capability. Anti-national are those who divert huge economic resources -which ought to be used for improving health, education and quality of life- into the armament race. Anti-national are those who, in the name of patriotism, muffle the voices of democratic dissent throwing around political power.

14) India may have legitimate security concerns. However, the real question is whether these nuclear tests, and an open acknowledgment of nuclear capability, enhance any country's security. It is important that we be clear: the tests are about operationalising India's nuclear option, about removing the ambiguity of India's nuclear capability. The issue at stake is not simply about the tests done now, but about whether ultimately deploying nuclear weapons will contribute to India's security. There are compelling reasons to believe that the tests will in fact undermine her security. Firstly, if the tests are designed to deter India's neighbours from aggression, history shows that deterrence itself is a flawed concept. During the Cold War, rather than "keeping the peace", nuclear deterrence between the US and Soviet Union, resulted in spiraling nuclear arsenals, proxy conventional wars, crippling financial burdens, and a legacy of environmental contamination. The possession of nuclear weapons by one party did not stop the Argentinean invasion of the Falklands or the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Nuclear deterrence is logically absurd, as well as morally bankrupt. It is absurd, because on the one hand, it does not work if a state does not believe that a country would ever dare use its nuclear capability. On the other hand, there is no "safe" way to "use" nuclear weapons without causing enormous damage to your own country and its citizens. It is morally bankrupt because it is based on the threat of annihilation of hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of innocent people.

15) The nuclear tests have "justified" Pakistan's nuclear capability, so far suspected but not proven or justified. This further justifies whatever military support they may get in terms of conventional weapons and other tactical things like satellite surveillance, intelligence reports, etc.

16) The military concern and priority is to make the country safer. Well then, after the nuclear tests India is no safer than before, rather the opposite.

17) Those who control international finance capital, those whose aim is to keep developing countries under their thumb, are happy with a renewed conflict between India and Pakistan. After all, it is the time-tested policy of divide and rule. Nothing had so far worked better for their interests than governments overexpending in weaponry, having to borrow capital on harsh terms to support their military adventures. Nothing works better for them than countries weakened by endless wars. Now the superpowers have justification to flaunt their "moral superiority" in diplomatic circles, chastising India for her reluctance in signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty while swinging the nuclear sword. They all laugh at the so-called "national pride" and secretly wish for more foolishness. And BJP's policy had served them all this on a silver tray. This is "anti-national".

18) The kind of nationalistic jingoism that is being fomented by the powerholders, the nuclear protagonists and the media is also dangerous as it precludes any balanced and rational analysis of the situation.

19) India is at a crossroads. She has a brief opportunity to choose the moral high ground and show the kind of international leadership that South Africa did, by openly acknowledging her nuclear capability and renouncing it. A country that has the strength to take this stance is confident of its own power and clear about the genuine security needs it has. These needs can better be addressed by confidence building measures with its neighbours, transparency agreements, and commitments from all the nuclear weapon states to "no first use" policies and timetables for the elimination of their nuclear weapons. This is by no means an easy route, but it is an honourable one for a country with a proud history of disarmament initiatives and India could only win friends by choosing it. Indeed, such a step could re-invigorate attempts to achieve a universal and equitable non-proliferation system and heighten the concept of a collective universal norm against nuclear weapons. The alternative is that India contributes, directly or indirectly, to the arms race and a global stockpile of thousands of nuclear weapons that could already destroy our planet many times over. India can choose to be part of the problem, or part of the solution to the nuclear threat. We can only hope that the BJP Government quickly decides to act for its own and the planet's best interests.

20) The country of Gandhi, has lost the potential to spearhead the non-violence movement all across the globe!!

A call to individuals and groups: Please get in touch with us for organising joint campaigns, mobilisations, debates, public meetings, group meetings, common publications etc against nuclear tests and nuclear weaponisation by all countries. We propose the campaign within India and globally. The Humanist Movement
11 Yogniti, 18 S V Road, Santacruz West, Mumbai 400054 INDIA
Tel: 6106197, Email: [email protected]