And three! Adding to the war launched by Russia against Ukraine, the tensions in the Taiwan Strait are enough to make people shudder. Between Russia, the United States and China, here are three of the five States officially in possession of nuclear bombs which are today at loggerheads. Admittedly, a direct conflict still seems perfectly avoidable, and recourse to nuclear fire is even more improbable. But the presence, not far away, of France and Great Britain – the two other official members of the nuclear club – further confirms the seriousness of this general fever.
The celebration, this Saturday in Japan, of the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (at least 100,000 dead) is a painful reminder: nuclear bombs are not an abstract danger. But the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the revision of which is coincidentally under discussion right now in New York, has failed to ward off the nightmare that this type of weapon represents. Not only did the NPT fail to bring the owners of nuclear weapons to their senses, but it also failed to prevent their proliferation. Israel, India and Pakistan (which are not part of the treaty) entered the macabre dance. They may soon be followed by North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and possibly others.
Even more: the laudable and somewhat desperate intentions of the non-nuclear states to finally remove this sword of Damocles which has weighed on the planet for seven decades are themselves rendered vain by the current resurgence of tension. A country like Sweden, for example, which has played a leading role in these various initiatives, has today become a member of the NATO Alliance, of which nuclear deterrence is a central aspect. She will undoubtedly have to throw her aspirations into oblivion.
Likewise, Switzerland, which is one of the initiators of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the TIAN, which entered into force in January 2021), still refuses to join it. “Switzerland is asking itself the question,” Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis explained to his colleagues gathered in New York this week. Like the 65 States that have ratified the TIAN, Sweden and Switzerland want a world free of nuclear weapons, Ignazio Cassis also repeated it. But now is not the time to offend those who possess such weapons.
Additional sign of these ambivalences: the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, participates this Saturday in the Hiroshima ceremony. Some members of his family are victims of the bombardment. It bears on itself the weight of the failure that inevitably represents a recourse to nuclear weapons. But there is no question for his country of renouncing the “nuclear umbrella” of the American ally. Today less than ever.