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Archive for the ‘Nuclear abolition’ Category

Time to Ban the Bomb

In Nuclear Guardianship, Human rights, Peace, Nuclear Policy, Justice, Nuclear abolition, War, Politics on May 25, 2017 at 9:56 pm

By Alice Slater

This week, the Chair of an exciting UN initiative formally named the “United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading Towards their Total Elimination” released a draft treaty to ban and prohibit nuclear weapons just as the world has done for biological and chemical weapons. The Ban Treaty is to be negotiated at the UN from June 15 to July 7 as a follow up to the one week of negotiations that took place this past March, attended by more than 130 governments interacting with civil society. Their input and suggestions were used by the Chair, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UN, Elayne Whyte Gómez to prepare the draft treaty. It is expected that the world will finally come out of this meeting with a treaty to ban the bomb!

This negotiating conference was established after a series of meetings in Norway, Mexico, and Austria with governments and civil society to examine the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. The meetings were inspired by the leadership and urging of the International Red Cross to look at the horror of nuclear weapons, not just through the frame of strategy and “deterrence”, but to grasp and examine the disastrous humanitarian consequences that would occur in a nuclear war. This activity led to a series of meetings culminating in a resolution in the UN General Assembly this fall to negotiate a treaty to ban and prohibit nuclear weapons. The new draft treaty based on the proposals put forth in the March negotiations requires the states to “never under any circumstances … develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess, or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices … use nuclear weapons … carry out any nuclear weapon test”. States are also required to destroy any nuclear weapons they possess and are prohibited from transferring nuclear weapons to any other recipient.

None of the nine nuclear weapons states, US, UK, Russia, France, China, Indian, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea came to the March meeting, although during the vote last fall on whether to go forward with the negotiating resolution in the UN’s First Committee for Disarmament, where the resolution was formally introduced, while the five western nuclear states voted against it, China, India and Pakistan abstained. And North Korea voted for the resolution to negotiate to ban the bomb! (I bet you didn’t read that in the New York Times!)

By the time the resolution got to the General Assembly, Donald Trump had been elected and those promising votes disappeared. And at the March negotiations, the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, flanked by the Ambassadors from England and France, stood outside the closed conference room and held a press conference with a number of “umbrella states” which rely on the US nuclear ‘deterrent” to annihilate their enemies (includes NATO states as well as Australia, Japan, and South Korea) and announced that “as a mother” who couldn’t want more for her family “than a world without nuclear weapons” she had to “be realistic” and would boycott the meeting and oppose efforts to ban the bomb adding, “Is there anyone that believes that North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?”

The last 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) five year review conference broke up without consensus on the shoals of a deal the US was unable to deliver to Egypt to hold a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone Conference in the Middle East. This promise was made in 1995 to get the required consensus vote from all the states to extend the NPT indefinitely when it was due to expire, 25 years after the five nuclear weapons states in the treaty, US, UK, Russia, China, and France, promised in 1970 to make “good faith efforts” for nuclear disarmament. In that agreement all the other countries of the world promised not to get nuclear weapons, except for India, Pakistan, and Israel who never signed and went on to get their own bombs. North Korea had signed the treaty, but took advantage of the NPT’s Faustian bargain to sweeten the pot with a promise to the non-nuclear weapons states for an “inalienable right” to “peaceful” nuclear power, thus giving them the keys to the bomb factory. North Korea got its peaceful nuclear power, and walked out of the treaty to make a bomb. At the 2015 NPT review, South Africa gave an eloquent speech expressing the state of nuclear apartheid that exists between the nuclear haves, holding the whole world hostage to their security needs and their failure to comply with their obligation to eliminate their nuclear bombs, while working overtime to prevent nuclear proliferation in other countries.

The Ban Treaty draft provides that the Treaty will enter into effect when 40 nations sign and ratify it. Even if none of the nuclear weapons states join, the ban can be used to stigmatize and shame the “umbrella” states to withdraw from the nuclear “protection” services they are now receiving. Japan should be an easy case. The five NATO states in Europe who keep US nuclear weapons based on their soil–Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and Turkey– are good prospects for breaking with the nuclear alliance. A legal ban on nuclear weapons can be used to convince banks and pension funds in a divestment campaign, once it is known the weapons are illegal. See http://www.dontbankonthebomb.org

Right now people are organizing all over the world for a Women’s March to Ban the Bomb on June 17, during the ban treaty negotiations, with a big march and rally planned in New York. See https://www.womenbanthebomb.org/

We need to get as many countries to the UN as possible this June, and pressure our parliaments and capitals to vote to join the treaty to ban the bomb. And we need to talk it up and let people know that something great is happening now! To get involved, check out http://www.icanw.org

Alice Slater serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War

U.S. Prepares To Confront Nuclear Ban Treaty With Smart Bombs

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics on May 25, 2017 at 2:48 am

Analysis by Rick Wayman*

WASHINGTON, D.C: (IDN) – On May 23, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a press release celebrating President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. DOE specifically lauded the proposed “$10.2 billion for Weapons Activities to maintain and enhance the safety, security, and effectiveness of our nuclear weapons enterprise.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, Ambassador Elayne Whyte of Costa Rica released a draft of a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Ambassador Whyte is President of the United Nations Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination. Over 130 nations have participated in the ban treaty negotiations thus far. A final treaty text is expected by early July.

The draft treaty would prohibit state parties from – among other things – developing, producing, manufacturing, possessing or stockpiling nuclear weapons. The United States has aggressively boycotted the treaty negotiations, and has actively sought to undermine the good faith efforts of the majority of the world’s nations to prohibit these indiscriminate and catastrophically destructive weapons.

No one is surprised at President Trump’s proposed funding for nuclear weapons activities; in fact, it is largely a continuation of the U.S. nuclear “modernization” program that began under President Obama. What is alarming, however, is the tacit admission by the Department of Energy that it is not simply maintaining current U.S. nuclear warheads until such time as they are eliminated. Rather, it is enhancing the “effectiveness” of nuclear weapons by incorporating new military capabilities into new weapons expected to be active through the final decades of the 21st century.

The draft ban treaty makes clear “that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and for the health of future generations.”

Whether or not the United States plans to join the majority of the world’s nations in a treaty banning nuclear weapons, its policies and programs must reflect the indisputable evidence of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons use. There is simply no excuse for investing in new nuclear weapons instead of an all-out diplomatic push for true security in a world without nuclear weapons.

A Good Faith Obligation

Article VI of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) obligates all parties to negotiate in good faith for an end to the nuclear arms race at an early date. That treaty entered into force over 47 years ago.

The draft ban treaty repeats the unanimous 1996 declaration of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which said, “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

Judge Christopher Weeramantry was Vice President of the ICJ when it issued its 1996 Advisory Opinion. In a paper that he wrote for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation in 2013, he examined in detail the concept of good faith in the context of nuclear disarmament.

He wrote, “There is no half-way house in the duty of compliance with good faith in international law.” He continued, “Disrespect for and breach of good faith grows exponentially if, far from even partial compliance, there is total non-compliance with the obligations it imposes.”

The U.S. and numerous other nuclear-armed countries argue that they are in compliance with their obligations because the total number of nuclear weapons in their arsenals has decreased. Quantitative reductions are important, and the progress on this front has been significant over the past couple of decades. However, a nuclear arms race need not simply be quantitative. Rather, what we see now among many of the nuclear-armed nations is a qualitative nuclear arms race, with enhancements of weapons’ “effectiveness” being a key component.

This qualitative nuclear arms race is a blatant breach of the good faith obligation and, according to Judge Weeramantry’s interpretation, likely even constitutes bad faith.

A Ban Is Coming

Regardless of how much money the United States and other nuclear-armed nations commit to their nuclear arsenals, the vast majority of the world’s nations plan to conclude a treaty banning nuclear weapons in July.

Even though such a treaty will not immediately halt nuclear weapons development or diminish the threat that current nuclear weapon arsenals pose to all humanity, it is an important step in the right direction.

The NPT and customary international law require all nations – not just those that possess nuclear weapons – to negotiate for nuclear disarmament. The ban treaty is the first of many steps needed to fulfill this obligation, and will lay a solid foundation for future multilateral action.

Non-nuclear-armed countries must continue to enhance the effectiveness of their diplomatic arsenals to ensure the successful entry into force of a ban treaty and subsequent measures to finally achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

Author’s note: Generally speaking, the U.S. Department of Energy is in charge of the design, production and maintenance of nuclear warheads and bombs, while the Department of Defense deals with the delivery systems (ICBMs, submarines, and bomber aircraft) and deployment in additional multi-billion dollar budget lines not addressed in this article. For more information on the Department of Energy’s nuclear “modernization” plans, see the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability’s new report “Accountability Audit.”

*Rick Wayman is Director of Programs & Operations at the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability and is Co-Chair of the “Amplify: Generation of Change” network for nuclear abolition.

U.N. Panel Releases Draft of Treaty to Ban Nuclear Arms

In Environment, Human rights, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Peace, Politics on May 23, 2017 at 9:47 pm

by Rick Gladstone, New York Times, May 22, 2017

A United Nations disarmament panel presented the first draft on Monday of a proposed global treaty to ban nuclear weapons, which advocates called an important step that could hasten completion of a final text by early July.

Nuclear powers including the United States have boycotted the negotiations for such a treaty, calling its goals naïve and unattainable — especially at a time when North Korea has threatened to launch nuclear-armed missiles at its enemies.

But those nations’ longstanding argument for deterrence — that the best way to keep nuclear arms from being used is to hold the ability to retaliate in kind — has failed to halt the momentum in the negotiations. The first round was held in March, and the effort is supported by more than 120 countries.

Treaty supporters have argued that if enough countries ratified an international agreement outlawing nuclear weapons, the political and moral coercive pressure would eventually persuade holdouts to reconsider.

Similar strategies were pursued in negotiations that led to global treaties banning other indiscriminate weapons, including chemical arms, cluster bombs and land mines. As more countries have joined those treaties, the shaming effect has grown on those that decline.
The nuclear draft text would commit treaty signers to “never use nuclear weapons” and never “develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Signers would also promise to never “carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.”

Less clear from the draft text is precisely how nuclear-armed countries that renounce those weapons could join the treaty, and under what conditions.

But language in the draft specifies that the treaty is intended to strengthen — and not replace — the existing treaties meant to stop the spread and testing of nuclear weapons.

The draft’s preamble specifies that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the landmark agreement that entered into force in 1970, would remain “an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.”

The draft is now subject to revision at a three-week round of negotiations at the United Nations scheduled for mid-June.

Supporters of the negotiations said the draft’s existence by itself was significant.

“The draft language is strong and categorically prohibits nuclear weapons,” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said in a statement.

The disarmament group called the draft “an essential milestone in the yearslong effort to ban these indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction and an important step toward their eventual elimination.”

Elayne G. Whyte Gómez, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva and chairwoman of the conference that is overseeing the negotiations, said in a telephone interview that she expected revisions to the draft.

Ms. Gómez, who was responsible for writing the draft, said she had sought to “synthesize the many areas where the views of states converged.”

There was no comment from the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, who led a group of envoys from member states who had publicly rejected the negotiations when they began two months ago.

Aides to Ms. Haley said that she was traveling but that the American position had not changed.

Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, a disarmament research and advocacy group in Washington, said he regarded the minimum number of ratifications to put the treaty into effect — 40 — to be relatively low, possibly limiting its coercive impact. Mr. Kimball also noted that the text of the treaty draft did not explicitly prohibit the financing of nuclear weapons or the issuing of nuclear threats. Nonetheless, he said he supported the negotiations and objective.

“The vast majority of world states say nuclear weapons are not essential for security, and that we want to reduce their salience by banning them,” he said. “That is a contribution to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Besides the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia — four countries are known to possess nuclear weapons: India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel. None support the negotiations.

United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination

In Environment, Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace on May 23, 2017 at 7:12 am

 

New York, 27-31 March 2017 and 15 June-7 July 2017

22 May 2017 Original: English

Draft Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Submitted by the President of the Conference

The States Parties to this Convention,

Deeply concerned about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons and the consequent need to make every effort to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances,

Cognizant that the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and for the health of future generations, and of the disproportionate impact of ionizing radiation on maternal health and on girls,

Mindful of the suffering of the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (Hibakusha) as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons,

Basing themselves on the principles and rules of international humanitarian law, in particular the principle that the right of parties to an armed conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited and the rule that care shall be taken in warfare to protect the natural environment against widespread, long term and severe damage, including a prohibition of the use of methods or means of warfare which are intended or may be expected to cause such damage to the natural environment and thereby to prejudice the health or survival of the population,

Declaring that any use of nuclear weapons would be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law,

Reaffirming that in cases not covered by this convention, civilians and combatants remain under the protection and authority of the principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience,

Determined to contribute to the realization of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

A/CONF.229/2017/CRP.1

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Bearing in mind that the prohibition of nuclear weapons would be an important contribution towards comprehensive nuclear disarmament,

Stressing the urgent need to achieve further effective measures of nuclear disarmament in order to facilitate the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery,

Determined to act towards that end,
Determined also to act with a view to achieving effective progress towards general

and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control,

Affirming that there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control,

Reaffirming the crucial importance of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament, the vital importance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as a core element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and the contribution of the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones toward strengthening the nuclear non- proliferation regime and to realizing the objective of nuclear disarmament,

Stressing the role of public conscience in the furthering of the principles of humanity as evidenced by the call for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and recognizing the efforts to that end undertaken by the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, numerous non-governmental organizations and the Hibakusha,

Have agreed as follows: Article 1

General obligations

1. Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to:

(a) Develop, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

(b) Transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly;

(c) Receive the transfer or control over nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices directly, or indirectly;

(d) Use nuclear weapons;
(e) Carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion;

(f) Assist, encourage, or induce, in any way, anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention;

(g) Seek or receive any assistance, in any way, from anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.

2. Each State Party undertakes to prohibit and prevent in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control:

(a) Any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;

(b) Any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.

Article 2 Declarations

1. Each State Party shall submit to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, not later than 30 days after this Convention enters into force for it a declaration in which it shall declare whether it has manufactured, possessed or otherwise acquired nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices after 5 December 2001.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit all such declarations received to the States Parties.

Article 3 Safeguards

Each State Party undertakes to accept safeguards, with a view to preventing diversion of nuclear energy from peaceful uses to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, as provided in the Annex to this Convention.

Article 4
Measures for States that have eliminated their nuclear weapons

1. Each State Party that has manufactured, possessed or otherwise acquired nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices after 5 December 2001, and eliminated all such weapons or explosive devices prior to the entry into force of the Convention for it, undertakes to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the purpose of verification of the completeness of its inventory of nuclear material and nuclear installations.

2. Unless otherwise agreed by the States Parties, arrangements necessary for the verification required by this Article shall be concluded in an agreement between the State Party and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Negotiation of such an agreement shall commence within 180 days of the submission of the declaration provided for in Article 2. Such agreements shall enter into force not later than eighteen months after the date of the initiation of negotiations.

3. For the purpose of performing the verification required by this Article, the International Atomic Energy Agency shall be provided with full access to any location or facility associated with a nuclear weapon programme and shall have the right to request access on a case-by-case basis to other locations or facilities that the Agency may wish to visit.

A/CONF.229/2017/CRP.1

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Article 5
Measures for situations not covered by Article 4

Proposals for further effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament, including provisions for the verified and irreversible elimination of any remaining nuclear weapon programmes under strict and effective international control, which may take the form of additional protocols to this Convention, may be considered at the Meetings of States Parties or Review Conferences. All States represented at the meeting or review conference may participate fully in such consideration. The meeting or review conference may agree upon additional protocols which shall be adopted and annexed to the Convention in accordance with its provisions.

Article 6 Assistance

1. Each State Party in a position to do so shall with respect to individuals affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons in areas under its jurisdiction or control, in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law, adequately provide age- and gender-sensitive assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion.

2. Each State Party with respect to areas under its jurisdiction or control contaminated as a result of activities related to the testing or use of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, shall have the right to request and to receive assistance toward the environmental remediation of areas so contaminated.

3. Such assistance may be provided, inter alia, through the United Nations system, international, regional or national organizations or institutions, non-governmental organizations or institutions, or on a bilateral basis.

Article 7
National implementation

1. Each State Party shall, in accordance with its constitutional processes, adopt the necessary measures to implement its obligations under this Convention.

2. Each State Party shall take all appropriate legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention undertaken by persons or on territory under its jurisdiction or control.

Article 8
International cooperation

1. Each State Party shall cooperate with other States Parties to facilitate the implementation of the obligations of this Convention.

2. In fulfilling its obligations under this Convention each State Party has the right to seek and receive assistance.

Article 9
Meeting of States Parties

1. The States Parties shall meet regularly in order to consider and, where necessary, take decisions in respect of any matter with regard to the application or implementation of this Convention and on the further elaboration of effective measures for nuclear disarmament, including:

(a) The operation and status of this Convention;

(b) Reports by States Parties on the implementation of their obligations under this Convention;

(c) Matters arising from the declarations submitted under Article 2 of this Convention;

(d) Proposals for effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament, including provisions for the verified and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapon programmes, including additional protocols to this Convention.

2. The first Meeting of States Parties shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations within one year of the entry into force of this Convention. Further Meetings of States Parties shall be convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on a biennial basis, unless otherwise agreed by the States Parties.

3. After a period of five years following the entry into force of this Convention, the Meetings of States Parties may decide to convene a conference to review the operation of this Convention with a view to assuring that the purposes of the preamble and the provisions of the Convention, including the provisions concerning negotiations on effective measures for nuclear disarmament, are being realized.

4. States not party to this Convention, as well as the United Nations, other relevant international organizations or institutions, regional organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and relevant non-governmental organizations may be invited to attend the Meetings of States Parties and the Review Conferences as observers.

Article 10 Costs

1. The costs of the Meetings of the States Parties and the Review Conferences shall be borne by the States Parties and States not parties to this Convention participating therein, in accordance with the United Nations scale of assessment adjusted appropriately.

2. The costs incurred by the Secretary-General of the United Nations under Article 2 of this Convention shall be borne by the States Parties in accordance with the United Nations scale of assessment adjusted appropriately.Article 11 Amendments

1. At the Meetings of States Parties or Review Conferences consideration may be given to any proposal for amendments of this Convention. The meeting or review conference may agree upon amendments which shall be adopted by a majority of two- thirds of the States Parties present and voting at the meeting or review conference.

2. The amendment shall enter into force for each State Party that deposits its instrument of ratification of the amendment upon the deposit of such instruments of ratification by a majority of the States Parties. Thereafter, it shall enter into force for any other State Party upon the deposit of its instrument of ratification of the amendment.

Article 12
Settlement of disputes

1. When a dispute arises between two or more States Parties relating to the interpretation or application of this Convention, the parties concerned shall consult together with a view to the expeditious settlement of the dispute by negotiation or by other peaceful means of the parties’ choice, including recourse to the Meetings of States Parties and, by mutual consent, referral to the International Court of Justice in conformity with the Statute of the Court.

2. The Meeting of States Parties may contribute to the settlement of the dispute by whatever means it deems appropriate, including offering its good offices, calling upon the States Parties concerned to start the settlement procedure of their choice and recommending a time limit for any agreed procedure.

Article 13 Universality

Each State Party shall encourage States not party to this Convention to ratify, accept, approve or accede to this Convention, with the goal of attracting the adherence of all States to this Convention.

Article 14 Signature

This Convention shall be open for signature to all States before its entry into force.

Article 15 Ratification

This Convention shall be subject to ratification by signatory States.

Article 16 Entry into force

1. This Convention shall enter into force 90 days after the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession has been deposited.

2. For any State that deposits its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession after the date of the deposit of the fortieth instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, this Convention shall enter into force 90 days after the date on which that State has deposited its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession.

Article 17 Reservations

The Articles of this Convention shall not be subject to reservations.

Article 18 Duration

1. This Convention shall be of unlimited duration.

2. Each State Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Convention if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Convention, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Convention and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests.

3. Such withdrawal shall only take effect three months after the receipt of the instrument of withdrawal by the Depositary. If, however, on the expiry of that three- month period, the withdrawing State Party is engaged in the situations referred to in Article 2 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, including any situation described in paragraph 4 of Article 1 of Additional Protocol I to these Conventions, the Party shall continue to be bound by the obligations of this Convention and of any annexed Protocols until the end of the armed conflict or occupation.

Article 19
Relations with other agreements

This Convention does not affect the rights and obligations of the States Parties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Article 20 Depositary

The Secretary-General of the United Nations is hereby designated as the Depositary of this Convention.

Article 21 Authentic texts

The Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish texts of this Convention shall be equally authentic.

Risk of ‘catastrophic’ nuclear accident as world relations worsen, UN warns

In Environment, Human rights, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on April 21, 2017 at 9:31 pm

By Will Worley, Independent. April 21,  2017

There will be “catastrophic” consequences when “luck runs out” on nuclear deterrence, the United Nations (UN) has warned in a major report which highlights the massive risk of an accidental or deliberate use of the world’s most deadly weapons.

The “poor relations” between nuclear powers has contributed to an atmosphere that “lends itself to the onset of crisis,” said the report by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research.

The rise in cyber warfare and hacking has left the technical vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons systems exposed to risk from states and terrorist groups, it added.

“Nuclear deterrence works—up until the time it will prove not to work,” it said. “The risk is inherent and, when luck runs out, the results will be catastrophic.
“The more arms produced, particularly in countries with unstable societies, the more potential exists for terrorist acquisition and use of nuclear weapons.”

It comes as Donald Trump of the US and Vladmir Putin of Russia have both indicated support for expanding their country’s nuclear weapon arsenals.

Deterrence is at the “greatest risk of breaking down” in North Korea and between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir, it said .
North Korea has continued with its nuclear weapons development programme, despite heavy sanctions being imposed against it by various countries and international bodies.

While the secretive Communist state has conducted several tests with nuclear bombs, in order to launch a nuclear attack on its neighbours, it needs to be able to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on to a missile.

There is no consensus on exactly where North Korea is in terms of miniaturising a nuclear device so that it can be delivered via a missile.

President Trump has said he will “deal with” the country and has not ruled out military action against it.

The report also cited a string of recent attacks and threats between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Pakistan raised the stakes in January, when it fired its first submarine-launched nuclear capable cruise missile.

In addition, the report expressed concern over tensions between the West and Russia, which have grown since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. President Putin has maintained Russia would use nuclear weapons if it felt sufficiently threatened.
Denuclearisation would require “visionary leadership”, the report said, but added this was “sadly rare” as many powerful states “increasingly turn inward”.

It added that new technology and spending on nuclear weapons had “enhanced” the risk of a detonation. However, it acknowledged the secrecy surrounding the programmes made it difficult to accurately assess their true scope.

Increased reliance technology has also introduced new problems, the report said. In the past, accidental nuclear detonations have been averted by a human decision. Replacing military officers with computers could therefore rule out a potential safety check on the weapons, and open the possibility of hacking a nuclear weapon.

The report also referenced the January 2017 decision of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science to move the publication’s Doomsday Clock two and a half minutes to midnight over nuclear fears – the most risky it had been since 1953.

The UN maintained risk was inherent to nuclear weapons and the only way to truly eliminate it was to get rid of the bombs.

Thoughts about what the Syrian airstrike might mean for our work

In Democracy, Human rights, Justice, Nonviolence, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on April 7, 2017 at 10:14 pm

The following was written April 6, 2017, by my colleague and good friend Ralph Hutchison of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance in Tennessee — also very active with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
There was little warning. That is the nature of a surprise attack. Still, the reality that our country had carried out an act of war against another country was shocking. Knowing that our historic nuclear-armed nemesis is on the other side, on the ground in that country quickly turned my shock into a heavy dread.

There are many reasons for Russia to stand aside in response to the US attack on a Syrian airbase after Donald Trump was affected by scenes of children who had been murdered by chemical weapons.
There are also reasons for Russia to express concerns about a US President deciding to become the global enforcer of UN conventions without waiting for a greenlight from the security council or anyone else—what seems swift and decisive to President Trump could seem abrupt and impetuous to someone else.
And there could be reasons for Russia to take it personally—if Russian personnel were on the ground at the airbase and were killed in the attack, for instance.
The US President will receive accolades or condemnations from members of Congress and others who agree or disagree with his action. He declared his order to strike the airbase was based on the US’s “vital national security interest” in preventing the spread of chemical weapons. Pundits did not blink an eye; we have grown accustomed to defending any action we deign to take by invoking our vital national interest. In this case, no US citizens or military personnel were harmed by Assad’s horrific attack; no US corporate or government properties were at risk. If the US at this moment now holds UN conventions sacred, one can only hope we apply that same solemn obeisance to the Land Mines Convention and, when it enters into force, the Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons.

But the hard looming question of this night is this: What if Russia decides to test the mettle of Donald Trump and the divided United States by countering with firepower in a limited strike? What if Russian personnel were killed in the attack, and Vladimir Putin’s pride requires a concomitant response?
That What If has numbed me this night. That What If is unspeakable on Talk-TV tonight.
How quickly could this spiral out of control—two deeply offended egos, puffing themselves up for the honor of their country, acting decisively, precipitously, provocatively to face down the enemy—
Could one or the other, feeling tested, decide to put any questions to rest by reaching for the nuclear codes?

We pray that would never happen, of course. We pray for our lives, and the lives of future generations. We pray whether or not we believe in God or a god or goddess.
But we cannot pray that it could never happen, and therein lies our deepest problem and the unmasking of the fundamental, fatal flaw in the concept of nuclear deterrence. It could happen.
And the fact that all we can do about it at this moment is pray should motivate every woman, man and child in the country to take up the cause of nuclear disarmament. We don’t all have to be on the same page, we don’t all have to agree on the nuts and bolts or the schedule.
We also don’t all have to sit back and say it can’t be done, because it can. Hundreds of millions of people around the world believe it can. One hundred twenty-three nations that convened last week at the United Nations to discuss a treaty to ban nuclear weapons believe that it can. History says that it can—several countries that once possessed nuclear weapons no longer have stockpiles or manufacturing capabilities. Other countries that could produce their own nuclear weapons have chosen not to.
Only three things are lacking, and they are connected.
One is political will translated into political power—the people, when asked directly, express by large majorities the desire to live in a world free of nuclear weapons.
The second thing lacking is courage to embrace a power greater than our fears.
And the third thing is the liberation of our governing officials in the House and Senate from the golden chains of the nuclear weapons institutions—the corporations and weapons communities and federal agencies that drain the national coffers to build weapons of mass destruction.

Tonight, as we wait to see how Russia might respond and what will happen as this chess game plays out with pieces bathed in blood, we must confront the terrible truth of the times we live in: decisions made by these few men could end us all in one afternoon. Tomorrow afternoon, or the one after that, before we can even reach our children to hug them to our chests.
If that is not acceptable to you, find a group working for the abolition of nuclear weapons—not talking about it, but working for it—and throw yourself behind them. If you belong to such a group already, double down. If you can’t find a group, start one. Nothing is more important.

Report on the UN negotiations to ban nuclear weapons

In Democracy, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, Politics, War on April 5, 2017 at 8:53 am

Nuclear Ban Daily, Vol. 1, No. 6

Courage and collaboration
Ray Acheson
4 April 2017

Last week was transformative. Not just in terms of banning nuclear weapons, but in terms of international relations and the United Nations more broadly.

The majority of states—more than 130—came together at the UN to start negotiating a treaty that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (aka the P5)—and the other nuclear-armed states—do not want. This alone is transformative. It is extremely rare, if not unheard of, for anything to get done at the UN if the P5 collectively oppose it. We were told it was impossible to get traction on any issue if faced with a united front of opposition from the “powers that be,” yet we not only have traction but momentum.

In addition, throughout the week states, civil society, and international organisations engaged in interactive dialogue together, highlighting the uniquely collaborative nature of these negotiations. Civil society organisations accredited to the conference were able to give interventions on each of topics discussed by states, and on Thursday experts were invited by the President to engage informally with states to discuss some of the most critical issues under consideration.

The courage that brought states to the room to negotiate this treaty and the collaborative spirit of engaging with non-state actors have both been instrumental to the success of this initiative to ban nuclear weapons. Both courage and collaboration will remain essential ingredients to achieving success in July—which the President of the conference, Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, has said is “an achievable goal”.

Based on the debates last week, Ambassador Whyte will prepare a draft text for the treaty, to be circulated to participating states in the latter half of May or early June. Negotiations will resume at the UN for three weeks starting on 15 June, during which time governments will work their way through the draft text with the aim of concluding the treaty by 7 July.

This is an ambitious agenda, but with the good faith participation of states and others, it is certainly possible. There is broad agreement on most of the core prohibitions as well as the principles and objectives of the treaty. Outstanding issues include whether or not the treaty should prohibit threat of use, testing, and financing; how to best address victim and survivor rights and environmental remediation; and how to deal with stockpiling and verification. In the weeks ahead, it will be important for governments and civil society groups to work together to solve these remaining issues.

In the meantime, opposition and pressure will undoubtedly be felt from those governments that have chosen to (or been instructed to) boycott these negotiations. The stigmatisation of nuclear weapons resulting from the process to ban them is already affecting the perceived legitimacy of these states’ positions. A final treaty will present an incredible obstacle to the continued retention of these weapons of mass destruction. But states opposing this treaty and the change it represents cannot block this treaty’s adoption or its entry into force. Courage and collaboration will be key to resisting the pressure to come.

As we have said many times, the treaty to ban nuclear weapons is not an end in itself. It will be a catalyst for change, just as the process to negotiate it has been already. There is much work to be done ahead, and once the treaty is secured, there will be even more work to achieve its entry into force, its implementation, and of course, to achieve the overarching goal of nuclear disarmament and a nuclear weapon free world. But we have seen so far should give us great hope that this is possible, and that the process of banning nuclear weapons is bringing broader change to how things can be and will be done in international relations.

A treaty to ban nuclear weapons

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on April 3, 2017 at 10:24 pm

The Japan Times, April 1, 2017

As talks began last week at the United Nations on a treaty that would outlaw nuclear weapons, Japan announced that it will not take part in the negotiations — which is most regrettable. The move could be taken as an indication that Japan is giving up its moral responsibility as the world’s sole victim of nuclear attacks to play a proactive role in global efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons, and it will come as a great disappointment to people, including survivors of the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and non-nuclear states. At the very least the government needs to explain in concrete terms how it otherwise intends to work toward its stated goal of making the world free of nuclear arms.

Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden took the initiative in submitting to the U.N. a resolution calling for starting talks on such a treaty. Despite opposition from the United States and other nuclear weapon powers, the U.N. General Assembly in December adopted the resolution with 113 member states voting for it, 35 countries voting against and 13 others, including China, abstaining from voting. Proponents of the talks on such a treaty cited the International Court of Justice’s 1996 advisory opinion that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law.” The first round of the talks took place last week and the second round is set to be held from mid-June to early July.

In addition to the nations possessing nuclear arms — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, Japan and most members of NATO also oppose the negotiations on the treaty because they are under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump is reported to have expressed strong opposition to its allies participating in the U.N. talks.

In explaining its position, Japan said if the negotiations on a nuclear arms ban treaty proceed without the participation of the nuclear weapon powers, a schism would deepen within the international community, making it difficult for Tokyo to take part in the talks “in a constructive manner and in good faith.” It also said that a pragmatic viewpoint of the issue is indispensable given that the world faces a serious security threat as exemplified by North Korea’s nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches, and that efforts toward nuclear weapons reduction should be pushed in a gradual manner while avoiding a division between nuclear weapon powers and non-nuclear weapon states.

If the Japanese government says so, it needs to first explain in specific terms how it can help the international community carry out step-by-step reduction of nuclear weapons in a manner that will eventually lead to their total elimination, and then take concrete steps to accomplish the goal. It has all the more duty to do that because it declared that it would pursue pragmatic and effective disarmament measures and would work to create a security environment conducive to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Countries opposing a nuclear arms ban treaty hold that such an accord would impede efforts for nuclear reduction under the U.N. Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). They must understand that behind the push for the negotiations for the nuclear arms ban treaty is the frustration felt among many non-nuclear weapons nations over the lack of progress in efforts under the NPT regime. They also believe that the nuclear weapons states and some members of the international community have underrated the risks posed by nuclear weapons and that nuclear weapons constitute a destabilizing factor in the world’s security environment.

Opponents to a ban on nuclear weapons say a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons without the participation of nuclear weapons powers would bring about no tangible results to reduce or eliminate nuclear weapons. But Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida declared that Japan’s position has been and will be consistent, and that there is no contradiction between its nonparticipation in the U.N. talks and its intent to work toward elimination of nuclear weapons.

To prove the integrity of his words, Japan needs to seriously consider ways to help the 115 countries taking part in the negotiations work out flexible provisions that might induce nuclear weapons states to join the treaty, and then take concrete actions in accordance with its idea.

Nations have moral duty to destroy nuclear weapons, Vatican envoy tells UN

In Human rights, Justice, Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on April 3, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Catholic World Service, March 29, 2017

“The threat of mutually assured destruction through nuclear weapons cannot be the basis for an ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence among peoples and states,” the Vatican’s delegate said in an address to a UN session on nuclear disarmament.

Archbishop Bernardito Auza called the attention of UN members to the call by Pope Francis for the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. He said that all states have a moral obligation to stop nuclear proliferation and to destroy their own stockpiles of nuclear arms.

Nuclear weapons cause “unnecessary suffering” for survivors, the archbishop argued, and “merit unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation.” He argued that states should provide compensation for people harmed by radiation from nuclear tests.

Archbishop Auza said that the UN’s discussion of disarmament was itself “an act of defiance against the logic of fear.” He called for universal acceptance of the principle that conflicts should be resolved by dialogue.

UN negotiations on banning nuclear weapons: Summary to date

In Nuclear abolition, Nuclear Guardianship, Nuclear Policy, Peace, War on April 3, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Last week, UN negotiations began on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons under international law.

This first negotiation session revealed that the 132 participating countries share a vision for a world without nuclear weapons. And while some disagreement is expected, there is broad agreement among many countries on most elements for the proposed treaty.

The negotiations showed exciting progress throughout the week. Discussions this week focused on three topics:

  • the goals, objectives, and preamble of the treaty;
  • the details of what actions will be included in a prohibition, such as the possession, development, testing, and use of nuclear weapons
  • and assisting other countries with them, as well as what actions will be required of parties; and
  • legalities for such things as accession to the treaty, regular review conferences, and questions about the accession of nuclear-armed states.

ICAN expects that the final treaty will prohibit states parties from using, possessing, and developing nuclear weapons, and assisting others in those activities. We also expect that the treaty will include a legal obligation to eliminate stockpiles and positive obligations such as victim assistance. The treaty should also be working in concert with the existing regime of nonproliferation and disarmament agreements to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

Thanks to the amazing efforts from civil society and others around the world, we are convinced that governments will be able to agree a strong, robust prohibition on nuclear weapons this summer.

Beatrice Fihn
Executive Director
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons