THE DAY AFTER

by Riazuddin *



In inventing nuclear weapons man has played God. But since man is not God,
this opportunity to extend himself without any constraint leads to
destruction.

The title of this article has been taken from a movie which vividly
describes the destruction and human suffering after atomic bombing of a
city. In the movie it was a fictional account of what actually happened in
Hiroshima where the five-year deaths related to the bombing (on August 06,
1945) reached 200,000 from 140,000 at the end of 1945. The 12.5-kiloton
bomb produced casualties, including dead, 6,500 times more efficiently than
an ordinary high explosive bomb. Now that India and Pakistan have given-up
their nuclear ambiguity and have announced and demonstrated their nuclear
capabilities enabling them to inflict horrors of Hiroshima to each other's
cities, what wise course of action is possible from here on? This article
discusses some of such actions, many of which were discussed during the
Cold-War Years. The present article simply emphasizes their relevance in
the present context.

1. Inevitability of Test Ban:

From the Trinity test in 1945, it took USA about 10 tests (omitting after
1950 all "nominal" size tests) to detonate in 1954 the first thermonuclear
explosion with a yield of about fifteen megatons. F.J. Dyson plotted the
cumulative total number of all bombs exploded from 1945 to 1962 against the
above years. The curve of cumulative bombs totals was almost exact
exponential, all the way from 1945 to 1962 with doubling time of three
years. Dyson gave an explanation of this as follows: "It takes roughly
three years to plan and carry out a bomb test. Supposes that every
completed bomb-test raises two new questions which have to be answered by
two new bomb tests three years later. Then the exponential curve is
explained." Having discovered this profound truth about bomb tests, one can
not escape the conclusion that "at some point, we have to stop" leading to
the "inevitability of a test ban". The earlier India and Pakistan realize
it, the better it is for them. Need they be reminded about the terrible
cost of pursuing nuclear arms race? Boris Altshuler ( a physicist at the
Lebedev Institute in Moscow and son of Lev Altshuler, one of the key
players of early Soviet Weapons Project at Arzamas-16 (Soviet Los Alamosos)
has been collecting data on how various nations spent their "national
income" (it is a UN term which includes less than the full gross domestic
product (GDP) but much more than just the government's budget)". His
stunning conclusion: "the US spent about 12% of its national income on
defense during the height of the Cold War (6-7% of GDP in US term). At the
same time the Soviets were spending over 50% of their national income on
their national security programs. (CIA estimates at that time were only 13%
of Soviet GDP). It was a load that crushed the country".

2. Tactical Nuclear Weapons: Are They Needed?

Both India and Pakistan have claimed to test the tactical nuclear devices
of less than one-kiloton range. It is not clear whether they were fission-
free weapons or not. In any case, planning to fight limited "tactical
nuclear war" between nuclear powers is not feasible on practical grounds.
It is highly unlikely to remain limited. As Dyson has put it: "A tactical
nuclear war conducted between any two nuclear powers will quickly
degenerate into an uncontrollable chaos that can be ended only by an
immediate cease-fire (if we are lucky) or by an escalation to strategic
strikes (if we are unlucky). In either case the outcome of the war will
hardly be affected by the presence of tactical weapons on one or both sides
of the initial conflict".

3.Non-deployment of Nuclear Weapons

The nuclear ambiguity worked as a deterrent for preventing war between
India and Pakistan for so many years. There is thus no reason that their
demonstrated nuclear capability would not work for that purpose. Why then
there should be any need for deployment of nuclear weapons on missiles or
in aeroplanes? In fact India and Pakistan should enter into a deeply
verifiable non-deployment treaty. This is all the more important because of
close proximity of the two countries. There will hardly be any response
time to prevent any accidental use of deployed missile.

4.Role of Scientists

The scientists can play a leading role in technical aspects of
non-deployment treaty proposed above and test ban. The scientists work in
an international environment and their training of critical thinking and
analysis and problem-solving attitude make them especially suitable in the
above role. Moreover they can contribute towards confidence building
between the two countries. As Dyson has put it: "As scientists we work
every day in an international community. That is why we are not afraid of
the technical difficulties of arms control. That is why we are appalled by
the narrow-mindedness and ignorance of our political leaders. And that is
why we are not shy to raise our voices, to teach mankind the hopeful
lessons that we have learned from the practice of our trade".

5.Conclusion

"Nuclear weapons are a part of technology, but technology has outgrown
nuclear weapons just as it has outgrown other less crude instruments of
power. Technology continues to grow and to liberate mankind from the
constraints of the past". Technology is a vehicle of economic progress. Let
us hope that political leaders of India and Pakistan would enter the
twenty-first century by using this vehicle for the economic betterment of
their people rather than in a crippling arms race. For this purpose they
have to come out from the pressure of the past. Let me end this article by
quoting from Bendetto Groce: " We are products of the past and we live
immersed in the past which encompasses us. How can we move towards new
life, create new activities. Only historical judgement liberates the spirit from
the pressure of the past;. it alone makes possible the fixingof a practical purpose,
opens a way to the development of action."

Let us hope that the leaders of India and Pakistan make this judgment; they
owe it to the billion people in the subcontinent, the majority of whom
lives in poverty.

[ * Prof. Riazuddin is a Pakistani theoretical
physicist of international repute. ]



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