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Kashmir: Flashpoint for nuclear war

Nuclear abolition news and updates

IPPNW has been deeply troubled by the escalation of hostilities between India and Pakistan over the long-disputed Kashmir region.  Three  of  the  four  wars  the  two  countries  have  fought  since  partition  in  1947 have started in Kashmir. With both sides now armed with nuclear weapons, a fifth major war could plunge the region–and the entire world–into Armageddon.

In February, a suicide bombing in Kashmir sparked a new round of recrimination and retaliation.    In  response,  IPPNW  called  upon the Indian and Pakistani prime min-isters to take immediate steps to reduce tensions and the risk of nuclear war.  

The  conflict  worsened  dramatically  in  August  after  the  Indian  government  seized  control  of  Kashmir,  sending  in  thousands of troops, cutting all communi-cation lines, and arresting political leaders.
 Kashmir’s  70-year  status  as  a  semi-autonomous region was suddenly over.
India’s  Minister  of  Defense,  Rajnath  Singh, exacerbated the situation when he signaled  that  Indian  might  abandon  its  long-standing pledge not to use nuclear weapons first in a military confrontation.
 
Most recently, India formally divided the disputed Jammu and Kashmir state into two  territories,  to  be  directly  ruled  from  New  Delhi,  sparking yet  more  violence  and political turmoil.
 
The potential consequences of further mil-itary escalation are dire. IPPNW has called on the political leadership to initiate diplo-matic talks to end the decades-old conflict.
 
Dr. Arun Mitra, IPPNW’s Indian co-presi-dent said, “India and Pakistan must end their  border  clash  before  it  engulfs  the  world. Leaders from both sides must sit down to finally resolve their issues peace-fully at the negotiating table and to take immediate steps to reduce and eliminate the threat that their nuclear weapons pose to all humanity.”
 
IPPNW’s  Indian  affiliate  also  has  been  among the very few voices speaking out about the human impact that the deterio-rating political and military situation is hav-ing on the local population.
   
IPPNW  co-president  and  nucler  famine  expert  Ira  Helfand  warned  that an  exchange  of  nuclear  weapons between the two countries would not only quickly kill millions in the region, but would also cause an unprecedented global catastro-phe.  Soot  lofted  into  the  upper  atmos-phere as a result of firestorms created by nuclear explosions would severely disrupt the  global  climate,  leading  to  worldwide  crop  shortages  and  mass  starvation  affecting  more  than  a  quarter  of  the  world’s population.   
“All  the  nuclear-armed  states,  including  India and Pakistan, need to comply with the  prohibitions  spelled  out  in  the  ban  treaty  and  eliminate  their  nuclear  weapons,” Dr. Helfand said.

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