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The Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in Florida, US. The facility’s reactors will remain in operation for 20 years beyond the end of their current licences. By that time, they will be 80—the oldest reactors in operation in the world. (iStock)
The Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in Florida, US. The facility’s reactors will remain in operation for 20 years beyond the end of their current licences. By that time, they will be 80—the oldest reactors in operation in the world. (iStock)

The futility of nukes

  • India’s northern neighbour, China, has rarely adhered to international norms. Whether it’s the question of respecting human rights in its own territory, or playing by the rulebook of international trade

A US State Department report has said China may furtively be undertaking underground, low-level nuclear test explosions. If true, it would be a breach of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), an international pact that bans such blasts and which China claims to observe. The report, whose findings were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, offers no proof that Beijing has violated the CTBT, but cites hectic activity at China’s Lop Nur nuclear test site over much of 2019 that had raised American hackles.

The report is bound to worsen tensions between the US and China at a time when Beijing has been in the global glare over its alleged mishandling of the covid-19 outbreak, which has jeopardized the health and economic well-being of people across the world. The report has drawn an angry riposte from China, which has called it “irresponsible" and “ill-intentioned".

India’s northern neighbour has rarely adhered to international norms. Whether it’s the question of respecting human rights in its own territory, or playing by the rulebook of international trade, it has been less than transparent. Today, it is suspected of leveraging the covid-19 crisis to its advantage in global affairs. A vacuum left by America’s part withdrawal from the arena may have something to do with Beijing’s ambitions. But a bigger stockpile of nukes doesn’t do much to gain sway over other countries. Such weapons offer diminishing returns. If the world turns to any power for leadership today, it would be to a country whose scientific establishment helps us fight the pandemic off.

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