By Zheng Zongwen
Building a more secure world is the shared responsibility of all countries and the right direction of our times. However, certain great powers addicted to hegemony continuously inject nuclear-related risks, tensions and pollution into the current volatile and intertwined world, which deserves high vigilance from the international community.
Nuclear deterrence lowers nuclear threshold
Over a period of time, with the successive announcement of the National Security Strategy and the 2022 Nuclear Posture Review, the US government had abandoned the “No First Use” (NFU) and other nuclear policies that Biden promised during his election campaign, but continued the preemptive nuclear strike policy and highlighted the priority on nuclear deterrence.
The US, which possesses the largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal in the world, dressed up as a victim. It professed that “by the 2030s the United States will, for the first time in its history, face two major nuclear powers as strategic competitors and potential adversaries”. On this pretext, it has tailored nuclear deterrence strategies toward China, Russia and other countries while strengthening the nuclear sharing mechanism and frontier deployment of strategic nuclear forces in the Indo-Pacific. It has made up the so-called “limited nuclear war” concept, further blurred the line between nuclear and conventional weapons and maintained a lower threshold for the use of weapons. It emphasizes the construction and development of nuclear weapon infrastructure and further intensified the upgrade of “nuclear triad”. The series of actions fully expose its hegemonic logic of seeking absolute military superiority, which brings about great risks to major-country relations along with global security and strategic stability.
Nuclear submarines unleash nuclear proliferation
Recently, in defiance of strong opposition from the international community, trilateral security partners among the US, the UK and Australia (AUKUS) announced specific plans for cooperation on nuclear-powered submarines, where the two nuclear powers of the US and the UK will blatantly transfer nuclear submarine power reactors and weapon-grade highly enriched uranium to Australia.
AUKUS nuclear submarine cooperation is the largest scale of nuclear proliferation in the post-WWII era, which severely undermines international nuclear non-proliferation efforts in these many years and sets an extremely abominable precedent in this respect. Under the influence of the US nuclear posture, Japan and the ROK have openly discussed the issue of nuclear possession, and Korean Peninsular and Iranian nuclear issues will get more complicated and intractable subject to stimulation. These naked nuclear double standards have poked holes in the global nuclear security net like opening Pandora’s box.
Depleted uranium shells further instigate nuclear crisis
Amid the uproar over the AUKUS cooperation on nuclear submarines, the UK simply ignored the concerns of all parties and insisted on sending thousands of Challenger 2 tank munitions including depleted uranium armor-piercing shells to Ukraine, declaring that it has “no obligation” to monitor the usage or assist in the following clean-up of these munitions.
Depleted uranium shells are not only of subnuclear power but also of great moral and ethical controversy. NATO led by the US had repeatedly employed depleted uranium shells against other countries, so the UK should be clear about the resulting dangers. What’s its purpose for harboring such evil intention? First, it intends to clean up inventories. Most of the depleted uranium shells of the UK were produced 15 to 20 years ago and are near or past expiration products, so it had better send them to Ukraine for radioactive waste disposal purpose, rather than dispose them by itself at great expense. Second, it intends to increase fire and pour oil on the conflict. This move is targeted for assisting Ukraine superficially, but actually aims to stimulate Russia’s sensitive nerves as a nuclear war inducement strategy, which will put a time bomb on the nuclear security situation in Europe and even the world.
Nuclear wastewater emits nuclear pollutions
Recently the Japanese government officially approved to launch the plan of ocean release of Fukushima nuclear wastewater, asserting that the water had been disposed and was safe and harmless. In that case, why doesn’t it discharge the wastewater into the inland rivers and lakes within its border?
In fact, the existing contaminated radwaste water to be discharged from Fukushima amounts to above 1.3 million tons, which contains more than 60 radionuclides, some of which even could not be treated by a publicly recognizable effective purification technology, and have a predicted discharged time up to 30 years. As home to some of the world’s strongest ocean currents, Fukushima coast would spread the radionuclides of the radwaste water to all sea waters in the globe after 10 years.
Ironically, as the holder of G7’s rotating presidency this year, Japan hopes to send an outward signal that all efforts must be made to avoid nuclear war and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation by taking advantage of the G7 summit held in Hiroshima. However, its words and deeds are in complete contradiction, which fully reveals that it has put its own interest above the nuclear non-proliferation obligations and increases the difficulty of strategic and security coordination among major countries. This runs counter to the growing voice of peace and stability from the international community and is untenable from the perspective of trend of history and morality.
Humans only have one earth, and there is no remedy for regret when it comes to nuclear security. All of us should keep our eyes open, and relevant countries particularly should rein in on the brink of the precipice, take meaningful and concrete actions to reduce nuclear risks and maintain global peace and security in a responsible manner.