John M. Itty
General Secretary, Christian Peace Conference - India
The demise of the cold war and the bipolar world order offers some degree of relief to nuclear risk in the world. However, the relief is found more in Europe; and post-cold war period creates more fears about nuclear war in Southern Asia.
Compared to the cold war period, the risk in Asia is more today due to various reasons. In the first place, limited arsenals under the possession of the players here might generate more risk. Whereas the US and the Soviet Union accumulated huge stock of arsenals, the nuclear powers in Asia have only limited stock. Till all of them feel that they have built up adequate stock, they will not be willing for effective arms reduction treaties.
Secondly, the regional competition in South Asia consists of two dyads - India versus Pakistan, and China versus India - and one triangle. This together with previous collaboration between China and Pakistan against India frustrates the possibility of any meaningful treaty. The need for a three cornered interaction makes a triangular effort at nuclear risk reduction difficult. The existence of a line of control between India and Pakistan and between India and China; and active military presence on the borders is the third factor frustrating the situation. Compared to this, in Central Europe, there was no "line of actual control." The boarders of these countries are scenes of frequent military patrols.
Unilateral actions to improve command and control and cross border monitoring are essential to avoid nuclear risk in these areas. Negotiations for confidence building measures are the means to save this situation. But, unfortunately, the summit between India and Pakistan ended without any silver line on the horizon. This situation is bound to develop further rivalry between the two countries involved, posing greater nuclear threat in the subcontinent.
This situation is a cause of concern for the whole of Asia. End of the cold war is only relief to Europe; and the new era would convert Asia into the scene of greater nuclear threat. Therefore, the people and countries of Asia have to realize this situation and create public opinion and propose programmes for reducing nuclear risk in Asia.