Russia: A Bang in Asia

  • Share
  • Read Later

(2 of 6)

On the Curbstone. Across the world, the reaction was violent—reflected in even a partial listing of New York Times headlines: NETHERLANDS DISMAYED, NORWEGIANS UPSET, SOVIET PLAN ALARMS ITALY, DANISH WORKERS PROTEST, ISRAELIS CONDEMN MOSCOW TEST PLAN. Even the professional ban-the-bomb groups, whom the Communists have busily encouraged and who normally save their ire for the U.S., were up in arms against Russia. In Tokyo, the Institute Against Nuclear War fired off an angry cable to Khrushchev; in London, Bertrand Russell's atom-bomb "Committee for 100" organized a sit-down protest strike on the curbstone near the Soviet embassy, made plans for a mass demonstration over the weekend.

Many Africans and Asians were plainly in a state of shock. Typical was Lawrence Borha, secretary-general of Nigeria's Trade Union Congress. Said Borha: "Russia professed solidarity with us when we were campaigning against French atomic tests in the Sahara. But what of her decision to resume her own tests? It makes nonsense of her claim to be working for world peace."

Voice of the Non-Bloc. At the United Nations in Manhattan, Soviet Delegate Platon Morozov spent four hours in the lobbies buttonholing fellow delegates in search of support. Several spoke frankly when he sauntered up. "This is shocking news," said one Arab neutralist. "Very, very, very grave," added another.

Moscow's announcement had an especially brutal impact in Belgrade, where neutralists from 24 nations had gathered to contemplate the problems of the non-bloc. Until Moscow made its announcement, they had hoped to catch the ear of the world with fiery anticolonial speeches, were all set to denounce nuclear tests.

Although stunned, one neutralist speaker after another bravely kept the fight going against "colonialism" and "imperialism." But even the most cautious fence walkers had some sharp words for Moscow (see below).

Plainly, Nikita Khrushchev had anticipated the criticism, decided that for his purposes fear was better than love, and did not care who knew it.

Poor Omen. Fact was, for the leaders of many small nations far out on the fringes of world power, the issues involved in nuclear testing were not easy to comprehend; few were familiar with the long, tortured history of efforts toward a controlled and inspected nuclear test ban. It all began as a concession, on both sides, to world alarm over the increasing contamination of the earth's atmosphere by atomic explosions. On Oct. 31, 1958, a group of U.S. and British diplomats gathered with the Russians around an oblong table in Geneva's Palais des Nations. The West had stopped its testing when the talks began, but the Soviets cynically touched off two more nuclear blasts in the very first week, hardly a favorable omen for the success of the conference.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6