Day 4: Calling South Asia to resist US promotion of nuclear power as a conventional weapon Print E-mail
 Monday November 13 2006

Call to make South Asia a nuclear free zone

Aarti Dhar

Speakers fear that U.S. will be a problem on the issue

NEW DELHI : Calling for making South Asia a "nuclear free" zone, an anti-nuclear lobby on Sunday suggested defeating the United States politically to achieve the purpose.

Apprehending that the United States would be a huge problem to promote a nuclear free zone, the group supported integration of anti-nuclear struggle and said it was also the responsibility of those working for peace to come together.

Criticising various governments at the Centre for their stand on nuclear issues, security expert Achin Vanaik said when India carried out the nuclear test in 1998, the then Government had said that the test was meant to ensure regional stability. But the present United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government was supporting the United States on the issue in lieu of a "few contracts."

"Nuclear taboo"
Addressing a seminar `War, Occupation and Conflict' at the Indian Social Forum, Mr. Vanaik said there were varying views on the issue within the country and even within the coalition partners. He said the U.S. was out to reduce the "nuclear taboo" after what had been witnessed in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The U.S. wanted to bring it down to the level of promoting nuclear power as a conventional weapon. "The threat of use of nuclear weapons in the developed countries has gone down considerably after the Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombing but it has increased considerably in the Asian region," he said.

Territorial conflict
Tapan Bose, another security expert, said the nature of conflict over the years had changed and territorial conflict was emerging as the most serious form of unrest in Asia, particularly in India. Be it Kashmir, Siachen, borders of Rajasthan and Gujarat or Nepal and Bangladesh, India had not been able to resolve its territorial issues.

Siddharth Varadarajan of The Hindu said the Indian Government should be defending the rights of the Palestinian people than show interest in doing business with Israel and take cognisance of what was happening in Iran than go with the United States and vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency Board meet.

Shalmali Guttal of Focus on the Global South, a programme of development policy research and practice, spoke of the geo-political interest of the big powers and the multilateral funding agencies in the post-war scenario.

For, the World Bank, post-war reconstruction is was an opportunity to apply the most egregious form of structural adjustment to countries emerging from war or natural disasters, undergoing violent internal conflicts or under foreign occupation. "The World Bank is playing a significant role in shaping the economic, social and political climates in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Timor Leste and other strife-torn regions.

``Common to all World Bank reconstruction programmes was the immediate application of free market reforms, " she added.