Of the Mexican Joke and the Nuclear Top Guns


Baher Kamal | Human Wrongs Watch - TRANSCEND Media Service

26 Sep 2022 – A Mexican joke goes: “I kill people for money. But you are my best friend, so I will kill you for nothing.”

Nuclear Test. Credit: United Nations

This seems to be the dominating thinking of the five permanent members of the so-called UN Security Council, which, according to their own definition, hold the “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

“The Security Council takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to the peace or act of aggression,” they say, while calling upon parties to a dispute to settle it “by peaceful means.”

Nevertheless, they self-attribute the strange right to launch wars. “In some cases, the Security Council can resort to imposing sanctions or even authorise the use of force to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

These five Security Council power monopolists –United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China– are the world’s major possessors of all kinds of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), be them nuclear, biological, or chemical, among others, some of them would be still unknown.

Their power seems unlimited. In fact, no matter if the other 190 plus countries adopt democratic decisions within the UN General Assembly — any one of the world’s five biggest WMD holders can override them through their self-proclaimed “veto” right.

The war cheerleaders

Now that the Western politicians and mainstream media are tirelessly spreading panic about the –real or not– threat that a nuclear war is already looming, the UN General Assembly continues to mark on 26 September each year the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

That said, is there any real chance to achieve such an ambitious goal?

The facts

The following are just some of the key findings:

  • Today around 12,705 nuclear weapons remain. Countries possessing such weapons have well-funded, long-term plans to modernise their nuclear arsenals.
  • More than half of the world’s population still lives in countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances.
  • While the number of deployed nuclear weapons has declined since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty. In addition, no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway.

The MAD doctrine

Meanwhile, the doctrine of nuclear deterrence –known as the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) principle, still persists as an element in the security policies of all possessor states and many of their allies.

This MAD means that a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by an attacker on a nuclear-armed defender, with second-strike capabilities, would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.

Despite not being permanent members of the so-called Security Council, there are four more nuclear armed States: India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

The nine of them continue to modernise their nuclear arsenals and although the total number of nuclear weapons declined slightly between January 2021 and January 2022, the number will probably increase in the next decade.

Such a Mutual Assured Destruction simply means that any of the big nuclear powers –or all of them– would be able to kill the whole world, not only their arbitrarily-declared “enemies” but also their best “allies” (read friends).

The false promise

The above data comes from the prestigious global peace research body, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which on 13 June 2022 launched the findings of its Yearbook 2022.

According to SIPRI, Russia and the USA together possess over 90% of all nuclear weapons. Of the total inventory of an estimated 12.705 warheads at the start of 2022, about 9.440 were in military stockpiles for potential use.

Nukes on “high operational alert”

Of those, an estimated 3.732 warheads were deployed with missiles and aircraft, and around 2.000—nearly all of which belonged to Russia or the USA—were kept in a state of “high operational alert,” according to SIPRI’s 2022 Yearbook Global nuclear arsenals are expected to grow as states continue to modernise.

“These [nuclear] weapons offer false promises of security and deterrence – while guaranteeing only destruction, death, and endless brinkmanship,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on 20 June 2022.

The big frustration

Frustration has been growing amongst UN Member States regarding what is perceived as the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, warns the UN on the occasion of this year’s International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

“This frustration has been put into sharper focus with growing concerns about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of even a single nuclear weapon, let alone a regional or global nuclear war.”

Who profits from mass destruction?

The 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), is a coalition of non-governmental organisations promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty.

Its report: “Complicit: 2020 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending” unveils one year of the cycle of spending on nuclear weapons from countries to defence contractors to lobbyists and think tanks and back again.

“In 2020, the report estimates that nine countries spent $72.6 billion on nuclear weapons, $27.7 billion of which went to a dozen defence contractors to build nuclear weapons.”

Those contractors then spent $117 million lobbying policy makers and up to $10 million funding think tanks writing about nuclear weapons to ensure they can continue to line their pockets with nuclear weapon contracts for years to come, ICAN reports.

The contractors are all profiled in detail in the Don’t Bank on the Bomb list of nuclear weapon producers.

The International Campaign defines nuclear weapons as “the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created. Both in the scale of the devastation they cause, and in their uniquely persistent, spreading, genetically damaging radioactive fallout, they are unlike any other weapons.”

Too many ‘nuclear endorsers’

ICAN also reports on 26 countries (plus the five hosts) who “endorse” the possession and use of nuclear weapons by allowing the potential use of nuclear weapons on their behalf as part of defence alliances, including the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

These “nuclear endorsers” are:

Albania, Armenia, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Montenegro, The Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey.

By the way: in the aftermath of World War II, the United States warned China that they had enough nukes to destroy the whole world… up to four times. China responded that it had enough nuclear weapons to do so… only once.

Now that the number of nuclear weapons has since then notably increased and that they are technologically modernised, does anybody know how many times the warlords can now destroy the world?


Baher Kamal, a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, is an Egyptian-born, Spanish national, secular journalist, with over 45 years of professional experience — from reporter to special envoy to chief editor of national dailies and an international news agency. Baher is former Senior Advisor to the Director General of the international news agency IPS (Inter Press Service) and he also contributed to prestigious magazines such as TRANSCEND Media Service, GEO, Muy Interesante, and Natura, Spain. He is also publisher and editor of Human Wrongs Watch.

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