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Archive for the ‘Nuclear abolition’ Category

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

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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.

Can the World Come to Its Senses on Nuclear Weapons?

In Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on September 1, 2017 at 1:45 am

By Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace

31 August 17

Looking back, one of the key moments that was to define both my professional and personal path was the moment I stepped onto the small atoll of Rongelap, in the Pacific Ocean.

It was May 17, 1985 and I was 24 years old.

At first glance, it appeared as if I had reached paradise; sandy beaches with coconut trees, water so crystal clear you could see the bottom, meters deep. And yet nothing was as it should be.

Waiting for us on the beach, with flowers, was the local community. The women held a banner reading “we love the future of our children.”

I was there with the crew of the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior, to help them relocate. Their beloved island was making them sick, and what you couldn’t see here could kill you.

Back in March 1954, the atoll received a massive dose of radiation when the U.S. tested its most powerful nuclear weapon. The test was code named “Castle Bravo” and the people of Rongelap were given no warning and offered no protection.

Radioactive fallout rained down on the island, falling for days. It dissolved into the water supplies, into the sea, and onto the houses, gardens and people. It contaminated them all.

In the tropics, where people spend a lot of time outside, the children played in the fine white ash, thinking it was snow.

In the years that followed, it became clear to the people that their island was no longer safe. The impact of the radiation poisoning, impossible to clean, was revealing itself with time. The number of children that had their damaged thyroids removed, the number of women that had children born with severe deformities, known as “jellyfish babies,” was impossible to ignore.

They no longer trusted what the U.S. military scientists were telling them about the safety of their island. They were left with no choice but to leave, with little hope of ever returning.

The contrast between the beautiful setting and the criminal irresponsibility of the U.S. military who used these people as guinea pigs is still heartbreaking this many years later.

Aug. 29, marked the International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

And while every day during the past few months stands as a stark reminder as to why nuclear tests and nuclear weapons are so dangerous, today is a good day to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned in fighting nuclear tests, and, most importantly, how we carry on the fight to rid the world of this evil invention.

This year, we do so with renewed impetus.

As the last few months has revealed, the majority of the world’s nuclear warheads are in the hands of men for whom the idea of using them is becoming thinkable.

It is perhaps hard to imagine that not so very long ago, nuclear tests were common and held regularly. Hailed as a benchmark of scientific progress and the ultimate guarantee of security, nuclear weapons have been tested more than 2000 times since July 16, 1945, when the “Trinity” test was conducted by the U.S. army in New Mexico.

In the 60s and 70s, the number of tests peaked, before decreasing in number but continuing steadily until the late 90s.

The countries conducting the most tests were the U.S. with 1,054 tests, the USSR with 715, France with 210, and the UK and China with 45 tests each.

Public outrage and the relentless efforts of determined individuals across the world eventually led major powers to stop testing in the physical environment. Greenpeace first set sail as an organization in 1971 to stop nuclear weapons testing and the role that we played in this, alongside so many, fills me with pride.

In 1996, major states signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty pledging to discontinue all nuclear testing. Although the treaty has never entered into force, nuclear testing essentially screeched to a halt with its adoption.

It forged an international zero-tolerance stance against nuclear testing. The handful of nuclear tests conducted after 1996 received universal condemnation and unanimously adopted UN Security Council sanctions.

The only country to have performed nuclear tests in the 21st century is North Korea—completing five tests in the past 11 years.

With the end of the Cold War, and with major powers signing various treaties committing them to disarm, media and public interest died down. We entered a period where many were living under the false pretense that the threat of nuclear war was something of the past.

And yet, the countries that have committed to disarming have not done so.

They have stalled, found excuses or blatantly ignored their commitments. The result is stark. Nearly 25 years after the end of the Cold War there are still an estimated 16,300 nuclear weapons at 98 sites in 14 countries. Rather than disarm, the nine nuclear-armed states continue to spend a fortune maintaining and modernizing their arsenals.

That false pretense under which we have been living has been shred to pieces during the last few months.

Nuclear war, it seems, is no longer inconceivable.

President Trump, who is the ultimate commander of the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal, (believed to consist of 6,800 warheads) has threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.” North Korea has threatened to attack the U.S. territory of Guam, in the Pacific Ocean. The threat of nuclear attack has become a bargaining chip, a threat spoken about all too easily and lightly.

These latest developments fill me with anger and even despair. Have we learned nothing from the past?

But I try to see the positive. At least the veil has been lifted, once again we are reminded of how high the stakes are, how fragile is our existence in a world where nuclear weapons are still so prevalent.

These weapons of mass destruction are designed for one purpose only: war. Their use and even the threat of their use poses an existential threat to all life on our precious planet.

The solution to the current crisis is clear: negotiation and diplomacy. Only this can bring us back from the brink. But this is not enough, we can wait no longer for the countries in possession of nuclear weapons to disarm.

In July, a historic milestone was reached at the United Nations in New York when 122 countries voted in favor of a new treaty banning nuclear weapons.

In September, the treaty will open for signature. Nuclear armed states and many of their allies have boycotted the treaty and have done all they could to try and derail the negotiation. They failed, but their absence is significant as unless a country ratifies the treaty, it is not bound by it.

Nevertheless, the importance of the treaty is enormous—it will make it harder for the proponents of nuclear weapons to describe them as a legitimate and useful means to provide security. The treaty sets the benchmark for a world where nuclear weapons are considered as a threat to security, not an avenue to it.

In this time where the threat of war has become thinkable again, world governments must use it as an impetus to come to their senses and disarm.

 

Confession of a nuclear weapons expert

In Democracy, Human rights, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on August 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

Anonymous, August 13, 2017

OK, let’s get straight to the point.
The events of this past week make one thing entirely clear — a few small-minded egotistical men with serious issues have the power to launch a war that will result in the death of hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people.
At present, the small minded egotistical men in question are Donald Trump (God fucking help us) and Kim Jung Un (!?), but this status quo is so comprehensively insane that this aspect is almost incidental. It could just as easily be Vladimir “creepy vacation pictures” Putin vs. Trump, in which case damn near everyone would be screwed, or some unhinged generals in Pakistan or India, in which case global food supplies would be at risk, in addition to the millions of casualties.
Let’s be clear — I have worked professionally in the field of nuclear arms control for more than 30 years. It has literally been my full-time job to know everything about nuclear weapons policy. I can talk to you about “the counter-force doctrine,” or “Article 6 of the nonproliferation treaty,” or nuclear “modernization,” or the technical differences between submarine launched Trident D5 missiles and B61 gravity bombs, and I can do it until you and I are blue in the face. It is, of course, self-aggrandizing to say this, but I know this issue and I know it deeply, more deeply than most people will ever want to know it.
And here’s the deal: It is all bat-shit crazy.
There is a vast vocabulary of acronyms and a complex universe of organizations with nuanced policy positions. Washington, DC is loaded with institutions known without a hint of irony as “think tanks” that bandy this stuff around with thoughtful panel discussions that would make Franz Kafka proud. I have heard every possible rationalization.
I don’t care whether you’ve got a PhD in international relations or what congressional committee you worked for — there is no possible intellectually defensible position that makes this state of affairs acceptable.
You cannot look at me with a straight face and argue that Donald Trump should decide on any given day whether the bulk of humanity lives to see the next sunrise. Don’t even try because we both know that’s pure bullshit.
If you think the problem is limited to just a few Strangeloves, I’m afraid you’re seriously wrong. I’ve also spent countless hours on Capitol Hill talking to Members of Congress and their staff and the bad news is that almost none of them really comprehend the subject. The most common interaction with a congressional office involves vague ideas and talking points that someone provided them so that they might sound informed, but the reality is that they are mostly clueless. To be fair, there are some legitimate heroes, but you could literally fit the number of people in the US Congress that are committed to addressing this problem into a Volkswagon bus.
In the end (hopefully not), it’s totally whacked. That’s the dirty little secret.
Which brings us to the real question and the hardest one — why for fuck’s sake do we allow this to continue?
Think about it. There are roughly 6 billion people in the world and roughly 9 of them have the power to end the lives of millions of their fellow human beings on any given afternoon. That means that .0000000015% of the human population controls the fate of the other 99.9999999985% of humanity. That includes you, your children, your parents, your lover, your friends, your entire community.
Could anything be more undemocratic? Or indefensible? I think not.
The people you hold close are worth everything to you. They are worth fighting for. It’s time.
Many of us reckon that this is all too confusing and that we need to “leave it to the experts,” but I can absolutely promise you — the experts are never going to solve the problem. NEVER. And waiting for “the other side” to take action first will mean waiting until it is too damn late.
It’s probably worth saying something about the money at about this point. The US alone is poised to spend more than $1 trillion dollars on a new generation of nuclear weapons over the next 15–20 years. And where do you suppose that money is coming from? Your paycheck, plain and simple. You might think it’d be nice to send that on your kids’ tuition. You might want to use the money to rebuild our country’s infrastructure. You might want it in your own damn wallet to pay for the most killer vacation ever. But tough shit. It’s going to new nuclear weapons and I’m guessing they weren’t at the top of your list. And the people from other nuclear countries? They are in the same shitty boat.
It is time for humanity to say no. It is time for the passengers to storm the cabin and fight like hell to survive. Waiting it out in our seat belts is not OK.
I mean this metaphorically of course — but not entirely. We live in a free country. We have a voice.
The situation at hand calls for a revolution. And in this case, I don’t speak metaphorically. I don’t mean a violent revolution, but a revolution in the sense that the existing order needs to be overthrown and overturned by the people that it screws, which you’ll recall, is 99.9999999985% of the people on this planet. It calls for a revolution of the heart and a revolution in our behavior which has allowed this to continue. It calls for a revolution in which the old order is fundamentally discarded and a new order replaces it.
We can do it and we are not alone. We live in a world with 2 billion Facebook users. The patterns of power are changing. Yes, the good people of Russia, or China, or North Korea, or the US might not want to challenge Vladimir, or Xi Jinping, or Kim Jung Un, or the Donald, but we can and we must. Fighting for our survival is not without risks, but it is better than helplessly watching while someone else determines our fate.
Here in the United States if only 10% of the population went on strike and demanded that Congress take much more aggressive steps to control nuclear weapons we could do it. Of course that is an enormously high bar to set but are we so powerless? Setting the bar lower, suppose the same 10% called their Representatives and Senators every day for a month. It takes about 5–10 minutes. It isn’t hard.
Too crazy? Then let’s start smaller and build momentum from there. Senator Ed Markey and Representative Ted Lieu have introduced legislation that would require Trump to obtain congressional approval before launching a nuclear attack. This is a small step in the right direction but it is a step. If you’ve spent more than 10 seconds thinking that this nuclear escalation with North Korea is nuts, than you should absolutely demand that your Senators and your Representative support this bill. Don’t roll over.
Frankly, there are thousands of way to solve this problem and we share a planet filled with smart and inventive people who can put their collective mind to ending this madness. Personally, I don’t claim to know all the answers. But I know one thing with absolute certainty — the “experts” aren’t going to solve the problem, the politicians aren’t going to solve the problem, the talking heads on TV aren’t going to solve the problem, and the 9 people who control the world’s nuclear weapons are literally the last people on earth that are going to solve the problem.
You and I have to do it. We have to seize power over our own fate.

The Nuclear Ban Treaty

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on August 1, 2017 at 12:12 am

International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, eNews, August 2017

Approved on July 7 by a vote of 122 to 1 (Netherlands, the only NATO state to participate), with one abstention (Singapore), the nuclear ban treaty will open for signature on September 20 at the United Nations and will enter into force when 50 states have signed and ratified it.

The treaty prohibits the development, manufacture, possession, and use and threatened use of nuclear arms. There are several pathways for nuclear-armed states to join the treaty provided that they verifiably eliminate their arsenals (the US, UK, and France together declared that they will never join). There are also obligations of assistance to victims of nuclear use and testing and of environmental remediation of contaminated areas.

Origins and Significance

At a minimum, the nuclear ban treaty is a powerful and eloquent statement of the political, moral, and legal standards enjoining non-use and elimination of nuclear arms. It is grounded in an understanding of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear explosions, and innovatively acknowledges the suffering of the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (Hibakusha) and of their testing, as well as the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons activities on indigenous peoples.

At a maximum, the treaty will serve as a framework for the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons. In this aspiration, it reflects the aim of the 1997 Model Nuclear Weapons Convention whose drafting LCNP coordinated. If the treaty is not itself used as such a framework, at least it points the way toward a convention – a comprehensive agreement on the permanent global elimination of nuclear arms.

The ban treaty effort grew out of conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear explosions held in 2013 and 2014 in Oslo; Nayarit, Mexico; and Vienna. It has deeper roots in the formation of regional nuclear weapon free zones, starting with the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco establishing such a zone in Latin America and the Caribbean; in General Assembly resolutions, notably resolution 1653 of 1961, in which a sharply divided Assembly declared the use of nuclear weapons to violate the UN Charter and other international law; the General Assembly’s request to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the legality of threat or use of nuclear weapons; and in persistent efforts by non-nuclear weapon states in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review meetings to extract a commitment from the nuclear weapon states to commence a concrete process of negotiating disarmament. With the nuclear ban treaty, countries largely of the nuclear-weapon-free Global South, joined by Austria and Ireland, have escalated the struggle, declaring that nuclear weapons must be legally prohibited and eliminated as has been done with biological weapons, chemical weapons, landmines, and cluster munitions.

As the Japanese affiliate of IALANA has observed, a principal task now is to convince countries dependent on nuclear arms of the values and logic underlying the nuclear ban treaty. For reflections on the contradiction between the attachment of the world’s major powers and their closest allies to nuclear arms and the ban treaty, see this excellent piece by Richard Falk, a member of the LCNP Board of Directors, “Challenging Nuclearism: The Nuclear Ban Treaty Assessed.”

Elements

The nuclear ban treaty includes a number of the elements LCNP/IALANA advocated for in three conference working papers; in remarks LCNP Executive Director John Burroughs made when on two expert panels sponsored by the conference president, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica; and in civil society statements to the conference made by LCNP President Emeritus Peter Weiss, Consultative Council member Jacqueline Cabasso, and Burroughs.
Those elements include:
* a preambular reaffirmation of the need for all states at all times to comply with international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law
*a preambular recitation of relevant principles and rules of IHL, including the rule of distinction, the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks, the requirements of proportionality and precaution in attack, the prohibition of weapons that cause unnecessary suffering, and rules for protection of the environment
*a preambular recognition of the existing illegality of use of nuclear weapons under international humanitarian law;
* a prohibition of threatened use as well as use of nuclear weapons
* a preambular reaffirmation of the disarmament obligation as formulated by the International Court of Justice – “pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament”
It is likely that our advocacy made a difference as to inclusion of some elements, in particular the prohibition of threatened use. In his statement, Weiss observed: “Threat is the twin sister of deterrence. For what is deterrence, but the threat to use? … It cannot hurt to reaffirm a prohibition that would ensure the survival of the human race.” In a piece in the Nuclear Ban Daily published by Reaching Critical Will, Burroughs wrote: “As is the case with the prohibition of use of nuclear weapons, inclusion of a prohibition of threat of nuclear weapons would apply, reinforce, and specify existing law set forth in the UN Charter and international humanitarian law treaties and elaborated by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion on nuclear weapons. However, the application of existing law is complicated because it is not spelled out comprehensively in the UN Charter and in IHL treaties. Inclusion of a prohibition of threat of nuclear weapons would therefore provide desirable clarity.” Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute and a member of the LCNP Board of Directors, also made compelling comments on the immorality and illegality of using and threatening to use nuclear arms in a statement and in working papers.

Especially with the threat prohibition included, read as a whole the treaty repudiates ongoing reliance on ‘nuclear deterrence’ as an alleged basis for international security. For more on threat and deterrence, see this Japan Times story.

For background on issues before the negotiators, see Burroughs’ June Arms Control Today article. The adoption of the treaty generated some mainstream news coverage, including this New York Times story, “A Treaty Is Reached to Ban Nuclear Arms. Now Comes the Hard Part”.

Lawyers’ Letter on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

At a nuclear ban treaty conference side event, we released the Lawyers’ Letter on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons. It declares that “the nuclear ban treaty effort constitutes an important affirmation of the norms against nuclear weapons” and that the treaty will be a “major step towards negotiation of a comprehensive agreement on the achievement and permanent maintenance of a world free of nuclear arms.” It also observes: “People are capable of good-faith, law-guided, problem solving at all levels of society: family, neighborhood, national, international. Cooperative global systems have been devised for the protection of human rights, protection of the environment and prevention of climate change, prohibition of specific weapons, and more. These skills must now be applied to the next obvious step: the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The now more than 500 signatories from more than 40 countries include Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand; Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former Minister of Justice of Germany; and Phon van den Biesen, counsel before the International Court of Justice in Bosnia’s genocide case and the Marshall Islands’ nuclear disarmament cases. The letter has relevance beyond the negotiations, and we continue to urge members of the legal profession to sign it.

Looking Ahead

In the weeks and months to come, LCNP will analyze and publicize the principles and objectives of the nuclear ban treaty and support the efforts of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to promote its early entry into force. And we will advocate vigorously with respect to US policy, including for:
Reaffirmation in the new Nuclear Posture Review now under preparation of US legal and policy commitments to the achievement of a world free of nuclear weapons, and endorsement of corresponding measures, including ending plans for acquisition of new, more capable, air-launched cruise missiles and land-based missiles. For our initial comment, see the IALANA statement made at this spring’s NPT PrepCom in Vienna, “Defend the Unequivocal Undertaking to Eliminate Nuclear Arsenals”.
Peaceful resolution of the US-North Korean confrontation, as set out in an LCNP statement authored by LCNP President Guy Quinlan. It calls on the United States to drop its insistence on a North Korean commitment to denuclearization as a precondition for negotiations. See also this insightful piece in Truthout by Andrew Lichterman, Senior Research Analyst, Western States Legal Foundation, and a member of the IALANA Board of Directors, “As the US Threatened North Korea, 122 Countries Voted to Ban Nuclear Weapons”.

 

Recommended Reading –
Humanization of Arms Control: Paving the Way for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

In this new book published by Routledge Press, Daniel Rietiker, a lecturer at the University of Lausanne and a member of the IALANA Board of Directors, explores an alternative approach to nuclear disarmament focusing on the human dimension rather than on states’ security. He analyzes the positive experiences of the movements against chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines, and cluster munitions, and explores whether they can be replicated in the nuclear weapons field. He also examines the legality of use of nuclear weapons, with special attention to international human rights law, in light of developments since the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. The book can be ordered at http://www.routledge.com.

Why Canada Should Sign the Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons

In Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on July 31, 2017 at 1:44 am

By Douglas Roche, Special to the Globe and Mail, July 29, 2017 http://tinyurl.com/yd65caa7

Douglas Roche is a former senator and a former Canadian ambassador for disarmament and honourary citizen of Hiroshima.

I was 16 when the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in early August, 1945. It was only years later, when I visited Japan as a member of Parliament, that I realized the unspeakable horror and scale of destruction possible in the new nuclear age.

That experience changed my life as I began to understand that the threat to use the immense killing power of modern nuclear weapons challenges all human rights. Through the years, the movement to abolish nuclear weapons ebbed and flowed, and few people thought the elimination of all 15,000 nuclear weapons was a practical political goal.

But new hope emerged July 7, when 122 countries – 63 per cent of all countries – adopted at the United Nations a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The new treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, manufacturing and possession of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons have been unconditionally stigmatized as standing outside international humanitarian law.

The treaty was achieved through the work of leading states – such as Ireland, Austria and Mexico – working in collaboration with highly informed members of civil society. They recognized the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” of any use of nuclear weapons, which would pose grave implications for the environment, the global economy, the health of current and future generations and for human survival itself.

When 50 countries have ratified it, the new treaty will enter into force and all the signatory states will be committed to “measures for the verified, time-bound and irreversible elimination of nuclear-weapon programmes.”

The UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, has hailed the “historic adoption” of the treaty as “a beacon of hope for all those who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of a nuclear-weapon-free world.”

However, the road ahead will be difficult because the nuclear-weapons states oppose the new treaty, just as they have refused to honour their legal obligations under the longstanding Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to negotiate “in good faith” the elimination of nuclear weapons. A statement issued by the United States, Britain and France – the three Western nuclear-weapons states – arrogantly said they “do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to [the new treaty].”

Thus, world opinion is split between those who believe the military doctrine of nuclear deterrence (“mutual assured destruction”) is necessary to preserve peace and those who hold that nuclear weapons, with their immense destructive power, are the major threat to peace.

The majority of countries now agree that the faulty doctrine of nuclear deterrence must be replaced with a sincere desire to build a global security architecture without nuclear weapons. This is a struggle of titanic proportions.

It is dismaying that the Government of Canada, the first country in the world to declare it would not develop nuclear weapons, took a stand in Parliament opposing the new treaty as “premature.” How can it be “premature” to ban nuclear weapons after seven decades of their existence?

The real reason for Canada’s opposition is because the U.S. government instructed its partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to resist on the grounds that the treaty “delegitimizes the concept of nuclear deterrence.” That is exactly the aim of the treaty advocates, who maintain that the measure is a head-on rejection of nuclear hegemony.

The new treaty also shores up the non-proliferation treaty, which is continually being weakened by the major powers’ refusal to abide by its obligation to negotiate the elimination of nuclear arsenals. Prohibiting nuclear weapons is an essential step toward their elimination. Thus, the Government of Canada should sign and ratify the new prohibition treaty as a concrete step toward the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons.

The government must face the fact that NATO nuclear policies are a huge obstacle to achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world. Canada once tried to get NATO to change these policies; it should try again. It will not be easy to challenge the NATO doctrine, but it must be done because it is right to do so. It is wrong for NATO to maintain the nuclear weapons doctrine when most of the world wants to prohibit such instruments of evil.

As an old man now looking back in the distance to the horrors of Hiroshima, I never want to lose my sense of hope that an enlightened humanity can fight back against the shrill voices of fear still clamouring for the false security of nuclear weapons.

After the nuclear weapons ban treaty: A new disarmament politics

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on July 18, 2017 at 8:28 am

By Zia Mian, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 7, 2017

A treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons was adopted by an overwhelming vote and met with loud cheers this week at the United Nations. More than 70 years in the making, the treaty offers widely agreed principles, commitments, and mechanisms for ending the nuclear weapons age. Getting here was not easy, and achieving nuclear disarmament will still be a long struggle. But the new treaty creates space and means for a creative new disarmament politics based on law and ethics and democracy that go beyond well-trodden debates on the dangers and costs of nuclear weapons and traditional practices of arms control based on step-by-step reductions that limit only the size of arsenals.

Having achieved their goal of negotiating a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons and aiming explicitly at their elimination, officials from more than 120 countries and countless peace activists who have been engaged in the talks now need to take up the political challenge of having the treaty quickly and widely adopted and owned by publics and governments around the world. The treaty will open for signature on September 20. The treaty adopted this week requires 50 states to formally join before it enters into force. This should occur soon. In the vote at the United Nations, 122 states voted in favor, and only the Netherlands, which hosts nuclear weapons belonging to the United States, voted against.

The treaty is in many ways an attempt to reaffirm—and hold humanity to—the highest universal ideals of a world of peace and justice based on law. It exposes the fundamental contradiction between nuclear weapons and the existing international system. The treaty opens with the simple declaration that the countries adopting it are “[d]etermined to contribute to the realization of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

Signed on June 26, 1945 in San Francisco, the charter says, in Article 1.1 that “[t]he purposes of the United Nations are: To maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.”

Given this purpose, it should be no surprise that the United Nations has always struggled with the question of nuclear weapons and has been the primary forum for international demands to eliminate these weapons, which more than any other human instrument constitute a threat to international peace and security. This struggle began in the very first meeting of the United Nations, on January 24, 1946, when the newly formed General Assembly took up as its first order of business the need for specific proposals “for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons.” This historic demand is recalled in the preamble to the new nuclear weapons ban treaty.

In framing the obligations of states under the treaty, and by implication the conduct of all states, the preamble makes a case that nuclear weapons are in fundamental conflict with basic humanitarian sensibilities and international law. If the treaty is to ultimately be successful, this view will have to become the common sense of the world.

The treaty’s foundational claims are that “any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, in particular the principles and rules of international humanitarian law,” and that “any use of nuclear weapons would also be abhorrent to the principles of humanity and the dictates of public conscience.” Put simply, any use of nuclear weapons would by any reasonable measure be illegal and immoral, and so they should have no place in national policies or human affairs.

On this foundation are built the core obligations of the treaty—which must now become common knowledge. Article I of the treaty states that each state party undertakes never under any circumstances to:

Develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices, directly or indirectly.
Receive the transfer of or control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices directly or indirectly.
Use or threaten to use nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
Assist, encourage, or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party.
Seek or receive any assistance, in any way, from anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a state party.
Allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control.
These obligations break new ground. The prohibition on threatening to use nuclear weapons, for example, sets up a fundamental challenge to all policies based on nuclear deterrence. From now on, deterrence advocates are on the wrong side of the law, as understood and accepted by the majority of countries in the world.

The treaty also requires that nuclear weapons, weapon programs, and weapon facilities be eliminated, in agreed verifiable, irreversible, time-bound plans. It requires any treaty signatory that has nuclear weapons to “immediately remove them from operational status and destroy them, as soon as possible but not later than a deadline to be determined by the first meeting of states parties, in accordance with a legally binding, time-bound plan for the verified and irreversible elimination of that State Party’s nuclear-weapon programme, including the elimination or irreversible conversion of all nuclear-weapons-related facilities.”

There are no such disarmament plans, but ban treaty states can now begin to outline them together in their regular conference of parties. And, as George Perkovich has argued, “nuclear-armed states will not credibly meet their disarmament obligations unless and until they seriously define what a feasible, comprehensive, verifiable, and enforceable nuclear disarmament regime would entail.” The goal must be for these processes to converge.

The challenge of nuclear disarmament politics going forward will be getting publics and policy makers in nuclear weapon states (and their allies) to set aside their long held, deeply institutionalized sense of nuclear superiority and moral exceptionalism and accept the treaty’s humanitarian imperative, its lawfulness, and the obligations that follow. The nine countries with nuclear weapons all stayed away from the talks, and some of them will work hard to prevent the treaty gaining ground. The key to long-term progress will be the United States, which more than any other country has set the global nuclear agenda since it made the first nuclear weapons and remains the only country ever to have used them in war. It is also the country most responsible for the existing international system.

In a potentially powerful obligation, the ban requires the states that sign up to make membership of the treaty part of their political engagement with the nuclear weapon states. Article 12 of the treaty mandates that states practice disarmament diplomacy and more. It declares that “[e]ach State Party shall encourage States not party to this Treaty to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the Treaty, with the goal of universal adherence of all States to the Treaty.” This will require new kinds of official and public engagement with weapons states and opens the door for new kinds of transnational citizen diplomacy on disarmament. A key step in the new disarmament politics must be discussion of the forms that this encouragement can take, and what role citizens of ban treaty states and of nuclear weapon states can and should play in this effort.

But persuading nuclear weapons countries to join the treaty will not be easy. It will require that governments and citizens use new forms of international politics that the treaty empowers.

For example, politically charged demands for nuclear disarmament—perhaps avoided as too sensitive a topic in the past—can now be brought up as a matter of course when presidents and prime ministers from ban treaty states meet with their counterparts in nuclear weapon states. Along with trade and investment and tourism and sports delegations, ban treaty countries can now sponsor disarmament delegations, to explain why they signed the treaty—and why weapon states should do the same. Along with these types of engagement, of course, there can also be sanctions and boycotts. The ban treaty permits a politics of nuclear naming and shaming, shunning and divestment. These tools are well established when it comes to human rights and war crimes; they can be applied with new force to nuclear weapon sites, institutions, officials, and employees.

Peace activists must prepare for ban treaty states to triangulate, to balance interests in their relations with the weapon states. Most of the countries that sign up for the ban will see nuclear weapons issues as only one item on a larger agenda. The diplomats who negotiated the treaty work within national political systems, in which disarmament demands will have to compete with urgent needs for aid and trade and good political relations with nuclear weapon states, who are among the richest and most powerful countries in the world.

If they are to prevail, the ban treaty states will need to hold together and expand their coalition and keep working with civil society groups. Together they will need to present unified demands—at the General Assembly and in other international forums—that weapon states join the treaty. They can hold joint Article 12 summits and support campaigns in the weapon states to focus attention and build support for the treaty.

Ban treaty states could seek to further embed the treaty’s prohibitions into international law by seeking an amendment to the statute of the International Criminal Court to make the use of nuclear weapons a war crime. The court’s statute permits such an amendment if it relates to “weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate in violation of the international law of armed conflict, provided that such weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare are the subject of a comprehensive prohibition.” The ban treaty is a comprehensive prohibition, and many ban states are signatories of the International Criminal Court statute and could build a majority in support of such an amendment.

Above all, to be taken seriously by the nuclear-weapon states, the growing community of ban treaty states and peace activists worldwide must be willing to continue to be bold and take political risks, as they did in getting the treaty. They must put at the heart of their relationship with the weapon states the treaty’s acknowledgment of “the ethical imperatives for nuclear disarmament and the urgency of achieving and maintaining a nuclear-weapon-free world, which is a global public good of the highest order, serving both national and collective security interests.” Having prohibited nuclear weapons as an ethical imperative, there is now no way back.

 

Questions about the new treaty to ban nuclear weapons

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on July 14, 2017 at 12:39 am

 

Dear friends,

Last week we banned nuclear weapons. It still feels a bit surreal to think that we pulled it off.

But what does it all mean? Treaties and international law is sometimes a complex issue, and we’ve gotten a lot of questions about what the treaty does and how it will work. So we thought we collect the most common questions we get.

What does the treaty prohibit?
The treaty prohibits states from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, transferring, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons. It also prohibits them from assisting, encouraging or inducing anyone to engage in any of those activities. In addition, states must not allow nuclear weapons to be stationed or deployed on their territory.

Is the treaty legally binding?

Yep! Once it enters into force, the treaty is legally binding on those states that have signed and ratified it. It is not binding on states that remain outside the treaty though.

When will states sign the treaty?

The treaty will open for signature on 20 September 2017, at the United Nations in New York. It will remain open indefinitely for states to sign. That means that whenever a state is ready to sign, it can do so.

How many states must ratify it before it enters into force?

Fifty states must sign and ratify the treaty before it can enter into legal force. Signing is a relatively simple act performed by the executive branch of a government. Ratifying typically involves a domestic legislative process, such as drafting legislation to bring the prohibition into national law. Once the treaty has entered into force, further states can join it at any stage.

Can a state that possesses nuclear weapons join the treaty?

Yes. It can join the treaty, so long as it agrees to remove them from operational status immediately and destroy them in accordance with a legally binding, time-bound and verifiable plan.

Can a state that hosts nuclear weapons on its territory join the treaty?

A state that hosts another state’s nuclear weapons on its territory can join the treaty, so long as it agrees to remove them by a specified deadline.

Is it possible to join this treaty and remain in a military alliance with a nuclear-armed state?

Yes. Nothing in the treaty prevents a state from being in a military alliance with a nuclear-armed state, so long as its participation in that alliance does not include prohibited acts involving nuclear weapons.

Does the treaty establish verification measures or safeguards to ensure that states do not develop nuclear weapons?

Yes, the treaty requires that states that have safeguards under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) keep these agreements, without prejudice to concluding additional ones in the future. For states that do not have safeguards yet, the treaty requires that states conclude an agreement in line with the NPT requirements within 18 months. The treaty does not undermine any obligations that states have made to safeguards under the NPT.

Will the treaty help victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons?

Yes. States must provide adequate assistance to all victims of the use and testing of nuclear weapons, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support. They must also provide for their social and economic inclusion.

The preamble acknowledges the harm suffered as a result of the use and testing of nuclear weapons, including the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapon activities on indigenous peoples. It also recognizes the disproportionate impacts on women and girls.

So, we got the treaty! What will the campaign do now?

The work does not end here. ICAN will now focus on ensuring that this treaty enters into force, gets implemented and creates a strong norm against nuclear weapons that will lead to nuclear disarmament. This is long-term work, it’s nothing that will happen over night.

So in the immediate future, we will work to ensure that all countries committed to international humanitarian law and human rights match their values and words with action and sign the treaty on 20 September in New York.

Once that is done, we will start our ratification campaign and make sure 50 states ratifies the treaty quickly so it will officially become international law. We will also work hard in nuclear armed states and nuclear alliance states to change policies and behaviour.

Each step will contribute to strengthening the norm and change of behaviour in states.

Do you have more questions? Check out our FAQ on the website, or send us your question on info@icanw.org.

Daniel Högsta
Network coordinator
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

130 nations negotiated a treaty to ban nuclear weapons forever. The 9 countries with actual weapons aren’t biting.

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on July 11, 2017 at 10:11 am

Jeva Lange, The Week, July 7, 2017
More than 130 members of the 192-member United Nations have negotiated a treaty aimed at the permanent destruction of all nuclear weapons, The New York Times reports. The document was officially adopted by the United Nations on Friday and will be open for signatures by member states during the General Assembly on Sept. 20.

There is one major obstacle, though: None of the treaty’s participants include any of the nine nuclear-armed countries. “Disarmament groups and other proponents of the treaty said they had never expected that any nuclear-armed country would sign it — at least not at first,” The New York Times explains. “Rather, supporters hope, the treaty’s widespread acceptance elsewhere will eventually increase the public pressure and stigma of harboring and threatening to use such weapons of unspeakable destruction, and make holdouts reconsider their positions.”

Others, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, have criticized the treaty as ill-timed due to the looming threat of North Korea. “We have to be realistic,” Haley said of the treaty in March. “Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?”

The United States, Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons. President Trump has called for expanding the U.S. stockpile, prompting the metaphorical Doomsday Clock to swing just two-and-a-half minutes short of apocalyptic “midnight” earlier this year. Jeva Lange