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Pope Says World Should Condemn ‘Very Possession’ of Nuclear Weapons

In Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on November 11, 2017 at 12:54 am

November 10, 2017

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, in some his strongest comments ever on nuclear weapons, said on Friday that the world should condemn not only their possible use but “their very possession”.

The appeal came at the start of a two-day conference on nuclear disarmament that has brought together 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners, as well as United Nations and NATO officials, discussing prospects for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Addressing the group, Francis spoke of “the catastrophic humanitarian and environmental effects of any employment of nuclear devices” and added:

“If we also take into account the risk of an accidental detonation as a result of error of any kind, the threat of their use, as well as their very possession, is to be firmly condemned.”

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; editing by Ralph Boulton)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.

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How We Persuaded 122 Countries to Ban Nuclear Weapons

In Democracy, Environment, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, Public Health, War on October 30, 2017 at 9:55 pm

By Beatrice Fihn, Matthew Bolton and Elizabeth Minor
Tuesday, October 24, 2017 at 9:41 AM

On Oct. 6, the Geneva office of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) received a call from the Norwegian Nobel Committee: We had won the 2017 Peace Prize for our “work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and our “ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

Since its founding in 2007, ICAN has sought to reenergize global advocacy for disarmament. We have jolted governments out of a post-Cold War complacency, which has allowed almost 15,000 nuclear weapons to remain a clear and present danger to the world.

While the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and oft-repeated rhetoric has committed nuclear-armed states to a world free of nuclear weapons, progress towards this goal had stalled.

Over the last decade, we have built a global civil society coalition that, in partnership with states, has changed the game, refocusing global policymakers on the humanitarian, human rights and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons, rather than abstract ideas of deterrence. The result was the negotiation of the legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Prohibiting nuclear weapons

The TPNW’s Preamble declares nuclear weapons “abhorrent to the principles of humanity,” with catastrophic consequences for people and the environment. It is the first nuclear arms control agreement to frame nuclear weapons as threats to international humanitarian and human rights law. It acknowledges the “disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on indigenous peoples.”

The Preamble is also far-reaching in its acknowledgement of the gendered dimensions of nuclear weapons. It calls attention to the “disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of ionizing radiation,” as well as the crucial importance of women’s “equal, full and effective participation” in “nuclear disarmament” and “the promotion and attainment of sustainable peace and security….”

The centerpiece of the TPNW is a categorical ban on nuclear weapons (Article 1), which makes them illegal under the same type of international law covering other inhumane weapons like chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions.

The Treaty’s negotiators were mindful of the “unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims” and the “grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations.” As a result, the TPNW is not only a ban on nuclear weapons. It also addresses the ongoing harms caused by nuclear weapons use and testing. Articles 6 and 7 obligate governments to aid victims, remediate contaminated environments and provide international cooperation and assistance to affected states.

On July 7, 122 governments voted to adopt the TPNW, which opened for signature on Sept. 20. While the nuclear-armed and -alliance states boycotted the negotiations, we are finding that it is already having a political impact because of its stigmatizing power.

Changing the Discourse

ICAN’s strategy was primarily a discursive one. We aimed to change the way that people talk, think and feel about nuclear weapons, changing their social meaning from symbols of status to outdated, dangerous machines that have repulsive effects.

Representatives of the nuclear-states often marginalize those calling disarmament by dismissing them as deluded. In her protest outside the room where states were negotiating the TPNW, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley chided them, saying “we have to be realistic.” However, ICAN campaigners called attention to the discrepancies between these claims to “realism” and the mystification that surrounded these nuclear weapons.

For example, we showed how the claim that nuclear deterrence has prevented war requires ignoring the poor record these weapons have at preventing conflict. We demonstrated the pervasive harm they have caused to to many people living in areas affected by use and testing, undercutting claims that nuclear weapons provide security.

Instead of turning to traditional mechanisms of nuclear arms control, we found a powerful discursive tool in international humanitarian and human rights law. What we sought was less an instrument of surveillance and sanction than a treaty that casts as pariahs those who continue to deploy, stockpile and defend the persistence of nuclear weapons. Building such stigma has been crucial for the process of working towards the elimination other unacceptable weapons.

Drawing out the tensions inherent in states’ presentation of themselves as responsible actors concerned with the protection of civilians, and their willingness to use the most destructive weapons ever invented on towns and cities, involved opening the conversation about nuclear weapons to voices that have been too often excluded.

Opening the Conversation

To change how nuclear weapons were discussed, we brought nuclear weapons into new arenas where humanitarianism, human rights and environmentalism are regular conversations, and to inject these discourses into traditional nuclear forums.

We demanded from states the meaningful participation of survivors, affected communities, medical professionals, faith leaders, humanitarian agencies, activists and academics in the nuclear conversation. We pointed out when forums and panels excluded women, people from the Global South and those who have experienced nuclear weapons’ effects.

This forced states to reckon with other forms of knowledge and expertise than nuclear-armed states have used to legitimate their arsenals. ICAN ensured that people affected by nuclear weapons use and testing were able to testify to the negotiating conference. In her statement to the conference, Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor Setsuko Thurlow reminded delegates that “72 years have passed since my beloved hometown was utterly destroyed by one atomic bomb.” Thurlow said this experience convinced her “that no human being should ever have to experience the inhumanity and unspeakable suffering of nuclear weapons.”

Sue Coleman, who grew up close to the site of British nuclear testing in South Australia, spoke of devastating humanitarian consequences for Aboriginal people, as well as the environmental impact on “animals and plants,” which cannot “speak for themselves and are ignored.”

In her closing comments following the adoption of the TPNW, the conference chair, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez of Costa Rica paid tribute to ‘‘all of the victims who have shared their personal stories with us…and have been an ongoing inspiration for our work.” She thanked them “for not letting us rest.”

We disseminated detailed scientific data on the ongoing harm, record of accidents and history of close calls of nuclear weapons at the three international conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna from 2013 to 2014. We made it difficult to claim this information was irrelevant to the international nuclear weapons debate. The majority of the world’s states concluded that the prohibition of nuclear weapons is the only morally permissible and legally coherent response to this evidence.

Gumshoe Advocacy

At the core of what we achieved was organizing people and presenting demands to those with the capacity to change law. We cold-called politicians. We pitched stories to journalists. We circulated petitions. We looked at which countries were next on the speakers list at the UN and told them about our talking points. We protested in the streets. There were breakfasts with friendly officials. Lunchtime ‘side event’ panels. Evening receptions. We argued with our opponents. We argued amongst ourselves.

Our approach to the problem of nuclear weapons was often dismissed – but we succeeded in our campaign for a prohibition on nuclear weapons, with or without the initial participation of the nuclear-armed states. Closing a legal loophole (by which nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not yet prohibited), and placing prohibitions (such as on assistance with nuclear weapons production, which would cover financing) and positive obligations on states, the treaty can have a normative and practical impact now.

We built strong partnerships between civil society and the states championing the treaty. We drew upon professional networks that had experience banning landmines and cluster munitions and pushing for the Arms Trade Treaty. We leaned on a tight-knit community of humanitarian disarmament advocates who had long-lasting friendships, strong connections to diplomats and well-practiced advocacy tactics.

Reclaiming Agency

ICAN’s success in advocacy for the TPNW shows that ordinary people have agency – we can address seemingly intractable problems in the midst of a deeply hostile political environment. Now that we can ban nuclear weapons, we listen with skepticism to those who use “that’ll never work” as an excuse for passivity. The world, as we learned, is what we make of it. We humans made nuclear weapons. We assigned meaning to them. We have the power to change that meaning. We believe a world free of nuclear weapons is possible. The nuclear weapons ban is a crucial step toward that goal.

Atomic bomb survivor to jointly accept Nobel Peace Prize on ICAN’s behalf

In Human rights, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on October 27, 2017 at 12:33 am

October 26, 2017

An 85-year-old survivor of the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima will jointly accept this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Setsuko Thurlow, who was 13 years old when the United States attacked her city, will receive the award together with ICAN’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn, at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo on 10 December.

Thurlow has been a leading figure in ICAN since its launch in 2007. She played a pivotal role in the United Nations negotiations that led to the adoption of the landmark treaty outlawing nuclear weapons in July.

For more than seven decades, she has campaigned against the bomb. Her powerful speeches at diplomatic conferences and in classrooms have inspired countless individuals around the world to take action for disarmament.

Two other survivors of the atomic bombings, to be selected by the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, will also attend the prize ceremony, as will survivors of nuclear testing.

Fihn, who is based in Geneva, has worked in the area of disarmament for the past decade, including with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She has a law degree from the University of London.

“In our advocacy, we have always emphasized the inhumanity of nuclear weapons. Devices that are incapable of distinguishing between a combatant and a child are simply unacceptable,” said Fihn.

“Survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are living witnesses to the horror of nuclear war. They have played a central role in ICAN. World leaders must heed their call for a nuclear-weapon-free future.”

Thurlow and Fihn will jointly deliver the Nobel lecture and receive the medallion and diploma from the Norwegian Nobel committee. They will do so as representatives of ICAN, this year’s Nobel peace laureate.

ICAN was awarded the prize “for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons”.

ICAN is a diverse coalition of 468 non-governmental organizations in 101 countries promoting adherence to and implementation of the United Nations nuclear weapon ban treaty.

ICAN campaigners around the world will take part in celebrations on 10 December and renew their appeal for governments to sign and ratify this crucial new international accord without delay.

Thurlow said that she was overjoyed by the news that ICAN had won the Nobel Peace Prize, describing it as a wonderful and well-deserved honour. “I am so deeply humbled to have been invited to jointly accept the prize on behalf of the campaign,” she said.

“It has been such a privilege to work with so many passionate and inspirational ICAN campaigners around the world over the past decade. The Nobel Peace Prize is a powerful tool that we can now use to advance our cause.”

Anti-nuke nuns return to crime scene with a treaty and a Nobel Prize

In Human rights, Nonviolence, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics on October 22, 2017 at 9:50 pm

By DIANE CARMAN | The Denver Post
October 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm
It was a lovefest — warm embraces, beaming smiles, raspy renditions of old-timey peace songs and nonstop visits to military bases and nuclear weapons sites. Fifteen years to the day after they succeeded in getting themselves arrested at a Minuteman III site in Weld County, Ardeth Platte and Carol Gilbert were back, performing in a reunion tour across Colorado.
This time they didn’t end up in the slammer. Quite the contrary, in many of the places they visited this month, they were given a hero’s welcome.”

Well, not at the mayor’s office in Colorado Springs. They stopped by for a friendly visit — Catholic-to-Catholic — with John Suthers, who had prosecuted them for sabotage and destruction of federal property back when he was U.S. Attorney.

He wasn’t, um, available, so they left him a note saying their visit was “an act of love.”

In the years since they served their sentences in federal prison, the Dominican sisters, hardly deterred by the threat of future incarceration, have become pop culture icons.

A character on “Orange is the New Black” is based on Platte, who practiced yoga at Danbury Federal Correctional Institution with Piper Kerman, author of the book on which the series is based.

Gilbert had her own brush with celebrity. She struck up a friendship with Martha Stewart when they served their sentences at Alderson Federal Prison.

The women are the subject of a documentary called “Conviction,” and The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post and numerous international publications have told their story.

Another Dominican sister, Jackie Hudson, who participated in the Weld County demonstration and also served time in federal prison, died of cancer in 2011.

“She’s with us here in spirit,” said Platte.

They wish she could have been here to share the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize, which was announced on Oct. 6 while they were visiting Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming.

The prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, or ICAN, which succeeded in getting 69 nations to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The sisters spent weeks at the U.N. working with ICAN, meeting with world leaders from Ireland, Sweden, Cuba and other countries, and lobbying foreign ministers to get the treaty enacted.

The United States was not among the signers. U.S. diplomats boycotted the U.N. conference along with foreign ministers from the other nuclear nations.

Gilbert and Platte were not surprised by the boycott, and they flatly refuse to be discouraged. They remain fiercely determined to see the treaty ratified and, to get the word out, they are delivering copies to military commanders across the country. They even thoughtfully left one for Suthers in his absence.

“This is an urgent time for us,” said Platte, who advertises her cause on a shirt that proclaims “I’m already against the next war.”

With the Trump administration threatening to “totally destroy North Korea” and Kim Jong-un responding by calling Trump a “dotard” and ordering more ballistic missile tests, Gilbert and Platte said nuclear anxiety has helped generate overwhelming support for their work, especially on college campuses.

“The young people want to live in a nuclear-free world, a world without war,”

Gilbert said. “Everywhere we went, we felt such hope for the future because of the young people.”

Young people were with them when the sisters returned to the missile site, opened the gates and left a copy of the treaty not far from the spot where they were arrested in 2002.

“That was a highlight for me, having all those people with us,” said Platte. “That was touching.”

After decades of anti-nuke activism, marches, die-ins, prayer vigils, fasts, acts of civil disobedience and countless arrests, Platte, 81, and Gilbert, 69, admit it was nice to feel the love.

Because, after all, that’s the whole point.

No matter how craven the politics, how divided the country, how hateful the speeches and tweets become, these sisters of resilience and resistance fight their battles with messages of peace.

“This is our vow,” said Gilbert. “It’s why we keep on keeping on. We will never give up.”

Platte nodded in agreement.

“I refuse to have an enemy,” said the gentle convicted felon, her face suddenly breaking into a beatific smile.

“I simply won’t.”

Diane Carman is a communications consultant and a regular columnist for The Denver Post.

Nobel winner says goal is to make nukes unacceptable

In Democracy, Environment, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, Public Health, War on October 10, 2017 at 10:48 pm

Associated Press, OCTOBER 09, 2017 , UNITED NATIONS
The head of the anti-nuclear campaign that won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize said Monday its goal is to make nuclear weapons unacceptable in the minds of people in every country — and have all nuclear-armed nations listen to their citizens and give up their arsenals.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons known as ICAN, told a news conference that for a long time nuclear weapons have been seen as “an issue of the past” that isn’t relevant.

But she said a potential nuclear arms race with nuclear nations modernizing their weapons and threats by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un to use nuclear weapons “makes this an urgent issue again.”

“I think that this Nobel Peace Prize can really bring about a much bigger movement against nuclear weapons,” Fihn said. “This gives us an enormous opportunity to reach out to new audiences, and to mobilize people once again.”

ICAN, currently a coalition of 468 organizations in 101 countries, is expecting to expand.

Ray Acheson, an ICAN steering committee member from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, told reporters that since the Nobel prize announcement on Friday the campaign has received “a lot of new partnership requests.”

The Nobel committee cited Geneva-based ICAN for its work that led to the first-ever Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that was agreed to by 122 countries at the United Nations in July. It opened for signature on Sept. 20 and already 53 countries have signed and three have ratified.

Fihn said ICAN’s “ambitious goal” is to get the 50 ratifications needed for the treaty to enter into force before the end of 2018.

The United States, which boycotted negotiations along with other nuclear powers, reacted to ICAN’s award saying the treaty “will not make the world more peaceful, will not result in the elimination of a single nuclear weapon, and will not enhance any state’s security.”

Fihn said the U.S. reaction was “quite expected,” but it shows the treaty is having “an impact on them.”

She stressed, however, that the Nobel Peace Prize isn’t going to make Trump give up nuclear weapons.

“But I don’t think that’s really what we’re doing here,” she said. “What we’re trying to do here is to make nuclear weapons unacceptable in the minds of the people, and that’s where civil society has the power. That’s really what is changing things. And in the end, governments have to do what their people say.”

As for North Korea, Fihn said, North Korea won’t disarm as long as it thinks nuclear weapons are acceptable, legitimate and justified.

The nuclear weapon states and those countries under their nuclear umbrella currently maintain they are necessary for security, she said.

“I think that is what this treaty is about — stop allowing them to justify having weapons of mass destruction that are only meant to indiscriminately slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians,” Fihn said.

She said it’s been during previous times of big crises that “the most progress” has been made toward nuclear disarmament.

Five years after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the Treaty of Tlatelolco was signed prohibiting nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, and later the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, she said. And during heightened Cold War tensions talks in Reykjavik, Iceland between then U.S. president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986 resulted in the treaty to eliminate intermediate and shorter-range nuclear and conventional missiles the following year.

Fihn said these crises, and the current escalating U.S.-North Korean tensions, “also bring about public mobilization.”

“I think that that’s where this peace prize is extremely timely, and very urgently needed attention on this issue,” she said.

 

Text of Nobel Peace Prize award to anti-nuclear campaign ICAN

In Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on October 7, 2017 at 11:13 pm

> The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
>
> The organization is receiving the award for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.
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> We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea.
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> Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth. Through binding international agreements, the international community has previously adopted prohibitions against land mines, cluster munitions and biological and chemical weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive, but have not yet been made the object of a similar international legal prohibition.
>
> Through its work, ICAN has helped to fill this legal gap. An important argument in the rationale for prohibiting nuclear weapons is the unacceptable human suffering that a nuclear war will cause. ICAN is a coalition of non-governmental organizations from around 100 different countries around the globe.
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> The coalition has been a driving force in prevailing upon the world’s nations to pledge to cooperate with all relevant stakeholders in efforts to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. To date, 108 states have made such a commitment, known as the Humanitarian Pledge.
>
> Furthermore, ICAN has been the leading civil society actor in the endeavor to achieve a prohibition of nuclear weapons under international law. On 7 July 2017, 122 of the UN member states acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
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> As soon as the treaty has been ratified by 50 states, the ban on nuclear weapons will enter into force and will be binding under international law for all the countries that are party to the treaty.
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> The Norwegian Nobel Committee is aware that an international legal prohibition will not in itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon, and that so far neither the states that already have nuclear weapons nor their closest allies support the nuclear weapon ban treaty.
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> The Committee wishes to emphasize that the next steps towards attaining a world free of nuclear weapons must involve the nuclear-armed states. This year’s Peace Prize is therefore also a call upon these states to initiate serious negotiations with a view to the gradual, balanced and carefully monitored elimination of the almost 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world.
>
> Five of the states that currently have nuclear weapons – the USA, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China – have already committed to this objective through their accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons of 1970.
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> The Non-Proliferation Treaty will remain the primary international legal instrument for promoting nuclear disarmament and preventing the further spread of such weapons.
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> It is now 71 years since the UN General Assembly, in its very first resolution, advocated the importance of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon-free world. With this year’s award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to pay tribute to ICAN for giving new momentum to the efforts to achieve this goal.
>
> The decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017 to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has a solid grounding in Alfred Nobel’s will.
>
>
> The will specifies three different criteria for awarding the Peace Prize: the promotion of fraternity between nations, the advancement of disarmament and arms control and the holding and promotion of peace congresses. ICAN works vigorously to achieve nuclear disarmament.
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> ICAN and a majority of UN member states have contributed to fraternity between nations by supporting the Humanitarian Pledge. And through its inspiring and innovative support for the UN negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons, ICAN has played a major part in bringing about what in our day and age is equivalent to an international peace congress.
>
> It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor.
>
> Reporting By Alister Doyle

2017 Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN is wake up call to humanity

In Environment, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on October 6, 2017 at 11:19 pm

by IPPNW, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, October 6, 2017
Breaking news
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Announcement and explanation of award at nobelpeaceprize.org

In honoring the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) as this year’s Nobel Peace Laureate, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has reaffirmed that prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons is the most urgent security priority of our time.

ICAN was launched in 2007 by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the 1985 Nobel Peace Laureate, and now comprises 468 civil society organizations and thousands of campaigners in 101 countries.

ICAN mounted an extraordinarily effective and diverse global campaign that helped secure the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, adopted by 122 UN member states on July 7, 2017. The landmark agreement declares nuclear weapons illegal because of their catastrophic consequences and based on the principles of international humanitarian law. The Treaty was achieved through the collective effort of civil society, international organizations, and non-nuclear-weapon states.

“The Hibakusha, who have borne constant witness to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons since the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, played a pivotal role in ICAN’s work to support the negotiations for the Ban Treaty,” noted IPPNW co-president and ICAN’s founding co-chair Tilman Ruff. “Their voices—and those of the victims of nuclear testing—can be heard clearly in the Treaty’s preamble, which cites ‘the unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons.’”

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize does more than recognize the Ban Treaty as a major step forward in nuclear disarmament,” said IPPNW co-president Ira Helfand. “It reminds us that we remain hostage to what can only be considered suicide bombs. Now that nuclear weapons have been stigmatized and prohibited, it’s up to all of us to increase the legal, moral and political pressure on the nuclear-armed and nuclear-dependent states. Our task will not be finished until the last nuclear weapon has been eliminated from the last arsenal on Earth.”

51 countries line up to sign UN treaty outlawing nuclear weapons

In Democracy, Drones, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on September 22, 2017 at 6:02 am

Channel News Asia, September 21, 2017

UNITED NATIONS: With the North Korean nuclear crisis looming large, 51 countries on Wednesday (Sep 20) lined up to sign a new treaty outlawing nuclear weapons that has been fiercely opposed by the United States and other nuclear powers.

The treaty was adopted by 122 countries at the United Nations in July following negotiations led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and New Zealand.

None of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons – the United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel – took part in the negotiations.

NATO condemned the treaty, saying that it may in fact be counter-productive by creating divisions.

As leaders formally signed on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed as historic the first multilateral disarmament treaty in more than two decades.

But Guterres acknowledged that much work was needed to rid the world of its stockpile of 15,000 atomic warheads.

“Today we rightfully celebrate a milestone. Now we must continue along the hard road towards the elimination of nuclear arsenals,” said Guterres.

The treaty will enter into force when 50 countries have signed and ratified it, a process that could take months or years.

“At a time when the world needs to remain united in the face of growing threats, in particular the grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear programme, the treaty fails to take into account these urgent security challenges,” the 29-nation Western alliance said.

It added: “Seeking to ban nuclear weapons through a treaty that will not engage any state actually possessing nuclear weapons will not be effective, will not reduce nuclear arsenals, and will neither enhance any country’s security, nor international peace and stability.

REJECTING NEED FOR NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz of Austria, one of the few Western European nations that is not in NATO, rejected the idea that nuclear weapons were indispensable for security.

“If you look at the world’s current challenges, this narrative is not only false, it is dangerous,” he told AFP.

“The new treaty on the prohibition on nuclear weapons provides a real alternative for security: a world without any nuclear weapons, where everyone is safer, where no one needs to possess these weapons,” he said.

Brazilian President Michel Temer was the first to sign the treaty. Others included South African President Jacob Zuma and representatives from Indonesia, Ireland and Malaysia as well as the Palestinian Authority and the Vatican.

But even Japan, the only nation to have suffered atomic attack and a longstanding advocate of abolishing nuclear weapons, boycotted the treaty negotiations.

Japan is a top target of North Korea, which has triggered global alarm over its rapidly progressing drive to develop nuclear weapons, following its sixth and most powerful nuclear test and the firing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The signing ceremony came a day after President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies Japan and South Korea.

Nuclear powers argue their arsenals serve as a deterrent against a nuclear attack and say they remain committed to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

That decades-old treaty seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. It recognises the right of five nations – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – to maintain them, while encouraging them to reduce their stockpiles.

Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/51-countries-line-up-to-sign-un-treaty-outlawing-nuclear-weapons-9234648

A new hope for a nuclear free world – but where is the UK?

In Democracy, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on September 21, 2017 at 10:43 pm

REBECCA JOHNSON 21 September 2017
A new UN treaty could make nuclear sabre-rattling and boasts of a willingness to incinerate cities, as unacceptable as threats to use chemical and biological weapons.

Yesterday the UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) in New York. Heads of state and senior officials from over 40 countries lined up to sign the ground-breaking treaty on its first day. They represent billions of people from across the world, from Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia-Pacific, including large countries that have given up nuclear weapons programmes, such as Brazil and South Africa.

More are listed to sign in the coming days. But not the UK – at least not yet!

The 2017 Nuclear Prohibition Treaty is the product of years of campaigning by thousands of civil society activists, scientists, doctors, diplomats, parliamentarians, and most of all from the courageous Hibakusha who survived the use and testing of nuclear weapons and have spent their lives raising awareness of the horrors and dangers.

This was not an arms control measure with counting rules, but a disarmament treaty driven by the imperative to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons because they are inhumane, abhorrent and unacceptable.

This treaty is the collective – and effective – revolt of nuclear have-nots, who overturned diplomatic assumptions and brought it to conclusion despite boycotts and opposition from nine heavily armed nuclear haves.

With nuclear free governments in the driving seat, this was also a treaty dreamed up and significantly led by women, including Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima bomb, and Costa Rica’s Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez, who steered the negotiations to fruition on 7 July.

As the governments began signing in New York, campaigners around the world organised celebrations of their own and called on their elected representatives to sign the Parliamentary Pledge for the Treaty, promoted by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), comprising over 460 organisations in 101 countries.

Theresa May didn’t put her name on the Treaty, but campaigners, MPs and MSPs in Edinburgh, London and Leeds met and read and put their own names and commitments to bring this UN disarmament Treaty into force.

Never say never

Every new disarmament treaty has been initially greeted with reluctance and opposition by the UK and others who possess, deploy and profit from the weapons that the majority of UN members have decided to ban.

Why? A combination of vested military-commercial interests and their tentacles in parliament and certain ministries, and – even more so – ‘business as usual’ establishment inertia.

Unsurprisingly, then, as soon as UN Member States concluded and adopted the treaty text on 7 July, the UK, France, and USA issued a joint declaration that they did “not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party” to it.

Once upon a time, such opposition from three permanent members of the UN Security Council might have deterred others from signing, but those days are gone. UN diplomats – who asked not to be named – called the “P-3” statement “pathetic”, pointing out that declaring a lifelong rejection of the UN’s multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty violates the legal commitment these three have made to pursue nuclear disarmament “in good faith”, as contained in Article 6 of the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

To date no other nuclear-armed state has issued this kind of public rejection of the 2017 Treaty. Moreover, history teaches that most if not all the states that oppose negotiations at the start will sign once a treaty is on the books.

Britain is a case in point, having opposed and then backed the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty and the 2008 Cluster Munitions Convention.

Treaties like this stigmatise previously accepted weapons, removing any kind of legitimacy. Few nations want the pariah status that attaches to illegal and inhumane weapons and those who wield them.

So never say never in politics and diplomacy. Getting this treaty is the first step towards abolishing nuclear weapons. The challenge now is to make it work.

Time to stop holding the world to nuclear ransom

The treaty’s legitimacy is already established by the fact that it was multilaterally negotiated under UN rules that ensured equal rights of participation for all 193 Member states. It was the choice of Britain and a handful of nuclear armed states and their allies to boycott the process. Having wilfully stayed away, they haven’t got a leg to stand on now if they complain about the outcome.

The negotiating process was carefully considered. As with any treaty, this is a product of compromise, give and take. Overall, it has the potential to change the world and lift the nuclear sword of damocles from our heads.

This is a strong treaty, overwhelmingly adopted by 122 of those who negotiated, with only NATO member The Netherlands voting against. Singapore abstained. Judging from the list of leaders who have signed their countries up to the treaty his week, it should have no difficulty entering into force in the next few years.

It will carry on working for our security long after the UK, France and US have replaced their current leaders, signed the Treaty, and set themselves on the path to eliminating the dangerous and morally abhorrent arsenals of the nine remaining states holding the world to nuclear ransom.

What the 2017 Treaty says

The TPNW establishes prohibitions and obligations that are applicable to all. It outlaws the use, threat of use and possession of nuclear weapons. And it goes further, making it illegal for states parties to develop, test, manufacture, produce, stockpile and deploy nuclear weapons.

Member states are not permitted to station or install nuclear weapons on their territory, or to “assist, encourage or induce in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party under this treaty”.

Other provisions lay out basic principles and pathways for how states that currently possess nuclear weapons or engage in nuclear alliances, policies and practices can join and implement the treaty. Essentially there are two routes: join and then implement, or implement first and then join. The UK and most of NATO would probably take route (a), in which they can sign or indicate their intention to join and then get agreement from the Treaty parties on the steps and timetable for complying fully, including eliminating existing weapons and programmes. By contrast, Israel is likely to prefer Route (b) when the time comes, as this is what South Africa did before it signed the NPT in 1992.

The TPNW establishes obligations to help victims of weapons use or testing and to carry out environmental remediation. It breaks new ground in arms control and disarmament by recognising the disproportionate harm nuclear weapons and testing have caused to indigenous people, especially women and girls.

Concerns about costs meant that the negotiators left many aspects of implementing the treaty to be decided at future meetings once the treaty has been ratified by at least 50 states and has therefore entered into full legal force.

Why the TPNW makes us safer

Nuclear threats and sabre rattling by Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un continue to drive fear, instability and proliferation. This reversion to cold war ‘deterrence’ doctrines is reviving fears that nuclear weapons could be used again. Nuclear deterrence is not some magical property attached to nuclear weapons. It is an inherently dangerous and unstable theory that requires the military capability, political will and overt “signalling” (threats) of a readiness to use nuclear weapons.

If exercises or signals that are meant to ramp up the message “I’m prepared, so don’t mess with me” go wrong, the consequences could be devastating. History shows us the risks – from the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis to the 1983 Able Archer miscalculation, with at least 13 such incidents exposed in a recent Chatham House report.

These dangers are inherent in nuclear deterrence, and exacerbated by weak or unstable leaders. The idea that someone could incinerate a whole city is terrifying. But as long as we legitimise the use of nuclear weapons for deterrence, we sustain the production, possession, deployment, threats and boasts that could far too easily lead to nuclear bombs being detonated again.

No-one is suggesting that the TPNW will bring about nuclear disarmament overnight. But the Treaty’s clear prohibitions on both the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as production, deployment, testing, and assisting in such acts will, however, consign these to pariah status, robbing them of status, funding and legitimacy in the world.

Last year, during the 18 July parliamentary debate on Trident, Theresa May felt it necessary to present herself as the kind of leader who is willing to launch nuclear missiles in the knowledge that hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians would be killed. In a few years, thanks to our Treaty, that kind of declaration would be as unthinkable as a British leader threatening or using chemical or biological weapons.

For most of the rest of the world, deterrence is incorporated into defence policies without requiring the capability or pathology to incinerate cities full of people. By making such threats illegal as well as morally abhorrent, the Treaty will reinforce a long-standing taboo that seems to have weakened in recent years.

For many years Britain and others have got away with proclaiming their commitment to multilateral disarmament and a world free of nuclear weapons while unilaterally modernising weapons in their arsenals. This treaty has called their bluff.

As many in the defence services already know, Trident is an expensive vanity project that has no credible role in British security or deterrence. But the politicians wanted it, so they went along with this expensive charade.

The Treaty makes nuclear weapons illegal. Even for states that don’t sign, this changes the legal and normative status of nuclear weapons and will make it harder for any government to get political and financial backing for their continued production, possession and deployment.

Lawyers will no doubt pore over every word, but it was clear from the negotiating record that relevant prohibitions in the treaty were intended to cover activities by people and institutions as well as governments. These will not only affect governments that give support through nuclear sharing and hosting arrangements among allies, but also companies that manufacture components for nuclear weapons. These prohibitions will undoubtedly make manufacturers and banks more nervous about continuing to invest in any aspect of nuclear weapons for fear of commercial and legal repercussions.

The 2017 Nuclear Prohibition Treaty now exists. Ignoring it won’t make it go away. Whether the UK likes it or not, its impact on UK nuclear and defence policy is likely to be profound.

Cancelling Trident is now question of when, not if. The sooner our politicians recognise this reality the sooner they can stop squandering billions of our money on four unnecessary “Dreadnought” submarines.

Donald Trump told the UN General Assembly on Tuesday: “If the righteous many don’t confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.”

This was an unintended truth perhaps, but his words summed up how the 2017 Nuclear Prohibition Treaty was achieved – by the many nuclear free nations who confronted the nine governments that still want to retain the ability to threaten nuclear annihilation, and with this Treaty took responsibility to stop evil from triumphing.

About the author
Rebecca Johnson is director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, and a feminist peace activist. She is the Green Party spokesperson on security, peace and defence and serves with various nuclear and humanitarian organisations.

Is a Nuclear War Inevitable?

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on September 7, 2017 at 7:04 am

By LeRoy Moore, Boulder Camera. Sunday, September 3. 2017

On August 8 President Donald Trump said if North Korea doesn’t stop threatening the U.S. it would be met with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” A spokesman for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un responded that this would be met with a “sea of fire.” These counter-threats present the greatest danger of nuclear war since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. But President John Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev were more levelheaded.

 

Is a nuclear war inevitable? Negotiations are under way, but publicly neither Trump nor Kim backs off. If a war breaks out, the more powerful U.S. can destroy North Korea, though U.S. analysts say North Korea has up to 60 nuclear weapons. Would a war be limited to these two countries? Other nuclear powers, such as China or Russia, may weigh in.

 

In even a limited war we may experience the “nuclear winter” broached by scientists in the 1980s. A nuclear exchange that strikes cities would put so much smoke into the atmosphere that the Sun’s warmth can’t reach us, temperatures drop and the world is plunged into a decade-long nuclear winter – so cold no food can be produced. Millions may die.

If this is what we face, why not get rid of nuclear weapons? Here are a few answers. First, in The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (1995) Gar Alperovitz shows that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not necessary, because Japan was already negotiating its surrender with the Soviet Union (at the time a neutral party). This was known to decision-makers in Washington. The real reason to use the bombs was not to defeat the Japanese or save the lives of U.S. troops but to intimidate the Soviets.

Second, after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was well known that tens of thousands of innocent non-military people had died, including “all those children” mentioned by a repentant President Truman. Had the U.S. lost World War II, its leaders, like those of Germany and Japan, would have been punished for violating the “laws of war.” But victors aren’t punished.

Third, not long after the war ended, the Soviets proposed that all nuclear materials be deposited with the U.N. so bombs could not be built. The U.S. disagreed, so it could continue as the strongest power. The Soviets soon had bombs of their own. Thus began the arms race.

Fourth, Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970 obligates parties to the treaty “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date . . . and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” The language is clear, but none of the five nuclear states at the time (U.S., USSR, England, France and China) acted to abolish their nuclear weapons. Now, 46 years later, four more nations have nuclear weapons – India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea. None act to eliminate their weapons. International lawyer Richard Falk, in his book Power Shift (2016), calls the Non-Proliferation Treaty a sham.

Fifth, on July 7, 2017, at a U.N. session 122 nations – 63 per cent of all countries – adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It prohibits the development, production, possession, testing and use of nuclear weapons. These weapons are unconditionally stigmatized as standing outside international humanitarian law. What is commonly called the “Ban Treaty” will enter into force as soon as it is signed by 50 nations. It opens to signatures on September 20. Several countries, including the U.S., say they will not sign.

The folly continues. Given this sad history, I often think that only the actual use of nuclear weapons by one or more parties will bring the human race to its senses. Must we pay the high price of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea to turn the world away from these harmful weapons?

A wiser approach is for the United States, which took the lead of introducing nuclear weapons, now to lead the world to abolish them. If the U.S. signs the Ban Treaty, other nations will follow. Ridding the world of nuclear weapons is long overdue. These weapons should be abolished before their use abolishes us.

 

Please sign and share with others this petition calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Go to this link https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-us-to-join-treaty-banning-nuclear-weapons-possession

 

LeRoy Moore, PhD, is a consultant with the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder, CO.