Nuclear weapons must be banned
The G.T.O. Sir and Friends, I support the proposition which has been put before us. Everyday, we read in the news-papers about the pollution of the atmosphere by atomic fall-out from the devices exploded by unscrupulous war-mongers. Whole regions are contaminated. Everyone knows how dangerous this can be for health and among those affected are innocent people who are made to suffer for no fault of theirs. Nuclear devices not only disturb the composition of the atmosphere but also interfere with the structure of the earth and spread diseases about many of which we know nothing so far. In fact, nuclear weapons are not weapons of war in the accepted sense of the term. They are diabolical engines of death and destruction. It is not possible to use them with discretion because, along with the objective against which they are directed, they destroy much more than may suffice for the purpose of war. There can be no justification for the use, and therefore, the manufacture of such weapons and I forcefully plead that they must be banned altogether.
The argument advanced by my friend, Mr. No. 1 echo the views expressed by detractors of gun-powder when it was first used and in more recent times by those who felt mortified at the supposed danger to public health from gas-fumes given out by the Horseless carriage. In spite of the concern expressed by such well-meaning critics of those inventions, neither gun-powder nor the motor car was banned. The hazards, if there were any, have been removed with the help of improved manufacturing techniques and in other ways. Nuclear technologists are already engaged in the task of manufacturing a clean bomb to minimize the hazards of radiation; and it may not long before they succeed in their efforts. It is in this direction that efforts should be concentrated rather than banning nuclear weapons altogether because, in the present political climate of the world, they serve as useful deterrents to the ambitions of states and their leaders. I, therefore, oppose the motion.
I endorse the views expressed by my friend, Mr. No. 2. Those who support the proposition perhaps do not realize that had it not been for the existence of nuclear weapons, we might still have been in the midst of the Second Great War, being carried on by the erstwhile allies. Humanity was rescued from the nightmare by President Harry S. Truman’s courageous decision to put the A. bomb to use and ever since, we have seen how the fear of nuclear weapons being pressed into service has served to localize international conflicts which, in the absence of nuclear deterrents, could well have become the starting point for a Third World War. It has happened in Korea, in Berlin and in Cuba. In case the efforts of those who are out to ban these weapons are successful, the world will be left to the tender mercies of petulant war-lords whom nothing but a possible nuclear holocaust is keeping in check. I have, therefore, to submit that the proposition before us is unsound and the motion must fail.
Only recently, the world observed the Twentieth Anniversary of the most shameful event in the annals of man in the destruction of two cities of Japan with the first Atom Bombs used on this earth. The people who have been through the experience are still suffering from its ill-effects. I am surprised to find that even then some of us have the heart to say that nuclear weapons should continue to be manufacture. They plead that the existence of such weapons acts as a deterrent against warlike tendencies. In other words, they mean to say that the fear of total destruction only prevents the mankind from being engulfed in another World War. If this is so, it is indeed a sad commentary on our civilization. In case we are civilized in the real sense, we must have more respect for life and seek to establish peace on earth by promoting the ideal of universal brother-hood of mankind. But this is hardly possible until we muster courage enough to banish all kinds of fear from our hearts and discard all weapons of destruction, particularly the nuclear variety. I, therefore, support the proposition.
With due apologies to my friend, Mr. No. 4, I wish to say that it is very well to talk of “respect for life” and “the ideal of universal brother-hood” but realities are very much different. The idea of banning nuclear weapons was born along with the first such weapon which was manufactured. All leading statesmen of the world have at one time or the other supported it, but in practice, they have not been able to achieve agreement over an elementary issue like the inspection of nuclear installations. The 17-nation Geneva Disarmament Conference has been plagued by deadlocks from the very outset. What is the reason? It is only this, that in international affairs mural trust simply does not exist. A majority of the speeches made at the forums convened to find ways and means of banning nuclear weapons are no more than tongue-in-cheek performances. The ideal embodied in the proposition put to us today is no doubt very laudable but in the prevailing climate of fear and distrust, it would be wholly absurd and thoroughly unrealistic to imagine that such measures can succeed. So many attempts in this direction have already failed, and no new factor has come into play to reverse the trend. I, therefore, oppose the proposition.
The refrain of the arguments advanced by m friend, Mr. No. 5, in support of his thesis is that all previous attempts to ban nuclear weapons have failed and that, therefore, no further attempt need to be made. Does my friend mean to suggest that this is reason enough for humanity to give way to despair? That would be, to say the least, a defeatist attitude, or, to put it more mildly, an escapist attitude. I am all in favour of continuing the efforts to ban nuclear weapons, and while supporting the proposition, I would like to invite your attention to the great economic strain that the manufacture of atomic weapons puts on a country’s industrial and financial resources. If all the money that is spent on the fashioning of nuclear weapons with higher and higher destructive potential is utilized to fight poverty and disease, it will surely go a long way to eliminate causes of international conflicts and tensions. The manufacture of nuclear weapons is a very telling example of the misuse of science by man. Atomic energy is a giant, which, if, employed for peaceful purposes, can create immense benefits for mankind. But, unfortunately, the most powerful nations of the world are giving priority to war research which can bring nothing but destruction in its wake. It is, therefore, very necessary that the made race is stopped at once and a complete ban on the manufacture and use of atomic weapons is enforced without delay.
Starting from the sling and the club, throughout the known history, man has been busy fashioning better and more efficient weapons accordingly as his requirements of offence and defense have been changing with the changing social structure. And he will continue to do so till he can completely master his basic fighting instincts. But that will be achieved, not by banning weapons, conventional or nuclear, but by changing the moral and ethical values which he cherishes. Till such time as that can be dome, he will need weapons. The age of the sling and the arrow is past, and we are living in the nuclear era. Now. Ass all of us know, the development of nuclear weapons was not a mere accident. Man was obliged to go after them with a possible speed in order to shorten the duration of the last Word War which had been taking a heavy toll of lives for more than five years. But his efforts have been well-rewarded. Besides achieving the desired purpose, he has discovered the means of shortening likely future conflicts. The development of nuclear weapons has outdated, long-drawn-out ordeals the like of which have been witnessed at least twice during the last century. It has also eliminated the chances of war breaking out on flimsy pretexts. Today, more than ever, the leaders of all countries realize that to start a war in the present times means accepting a very heavy responsibility because of the existence of weapons which can lay whole countries waste in a matter of second. Nobody is prepared to take that risk with the result that trend in favour of negotiations to settle international disputes is gaining strength. A ban on nuclear weapons at this stage can serve only to reverse the trend. I, therefore oppose the proposition.