What happened? The 2015 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York fails to deliver, despite a solid draft Final Document.
This is the critical conference that reviews progress on the central nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament Treaty Regime. The United States, UK, and Canada broke the consensus on the draft agreement contained in the Final Document, to convene the proposed Middle East WMD-Free Zone conference in 2016. “No meaningful progress was made”, said Ray Acheson, director of Reaching Critical Will, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the oldest US-based peace group.
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told IPS the problem with NPT Review Conference commitments on disarmament “is not so much that they have not been strong enough. Rather the problem is that they have not been implemented by the NPT nuclear-weapon states.” In fact, Civil Society leaders from around the world condemned the failure of the agreement.
The Proposed Final Document recommended the General Assembly establish an open-ended working group to “identify and elaborate” effective disarmament measures, including legal agreements for the achievement and maintenance of a nuclear weapons free world. "Regardless of the lack of an NPT outcome, this initiative can and should be pushed at the next General Assembly session on disarmament and international security” this autumn, said John Burroughs.
Joseph Gerson, of the American Friends Service Committee: “The United States was primarily responsible” for the failure of this year’s critically important NPT Review Conference. “The U.S., Britain and Canada are blaming the victim,” saying Egypt wrecked the conference with a renewed call for creating a Middle East Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone.
“Israeli apparently refused (a compromise), and U.S. President Obama’s ostensible commitments to a nuclear weapons-free world melted in the face of Israeli intransigence,” said Gerson.
Ray Acheson: The majority of the world’s countries (Parties to the Treaty)—have endorsed a Humanitarian Pledge, committing to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. “The outcome in 2015 is that Humanitarian Pledge.” __________________________________________
CFPA Comments: John Burroughs, one of International Civil Society’s leading anti-nuclear advocates, says fulfilling the Humanitarian Pledge doesn’t require the permission of the nuclear-armed States. “The process should begin without delay.” We agree. Hiroshima must never happen again, and we have no time to lose.
In the 1990’s, there was a similar case. The U.S. and both Koreas refused to sign the Treaty Banning Land Mines. But the world went ahead, we have a functioning Land Mines Treaty, and the U.S. participates in disarming land mines that risk civilians’ lives all over the world. Today, many countries are willing to sign a Treaty Banning the Possession and Use of Nuclear Weapons. The way international law works, when most have signed on, use of nuclear weapons becomes illegal under customary international law. The same should be true of keeping such weapons on hair-trigger alert. Eventually, the nuclear powers will see its wisdom, comply, and sign.
A Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons, in order to “build a new reality of human security and global justice” would be pursued under the main consensus. Polls show 3 out of 4 people around the world agree.
2015 in New York shows a failure of moral and strategic leadership by the five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, including the United States. It is our duty to actually lead the way to nuclear security, which means abolition. Nuclear Weapons are reaching 70—well past their retirement age. Let's all hear John Burroughs in Princeton, at the CFPA 35th Membership Dinner and Program! Let's have a party to send them off!
Ed Aguilar, CFPA Pennsylvania, May 27, 2015
Edward A. Aguilar, J.D.
Coalition for Peace Action
Friends Center, 1515 Cherry Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
A few years ago, a plucky contestant on Dancing with the Stars popularized a terrific phrase when asked about her daring routine late in the contest. It was time, she quipped, for her to “go big or go home.”
We’d like to see that can-do attitude manifested at the upcoming UN review conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty — the so-called NPT RevCon .
What would going big mean? A serious commitment by the nuclear powers to get busy negotiating the global elimination of nuclear weapons, as required by the treaty’s Article VI. The conference will convene April 27 and run through May 22. (To read complete article, Click Here.)
DOVES who once cheered President Obama for his antinuclear crusades and later fell silent as he backpedaled are now lining up to denounce him. A recent skewering by the Federation of American Scientists details how Mr. Obama, despite calling repeatedly for “a world without nuclear weapons,” has reduced the size of the nation’s atomic stockpile far less than did any of his three immediate predecessors, including both Presidents Bush.
Critics are calling out the president not only for modest cuts but also for spending more than previous administrations to modernize the remaining arms and for authorizing a new generation of weapon carriers. They call the upgrades an enormous waste of money, citing estimates that put the nation’s costs over the next three decades at up to a trillion dollars. (to read complete article Click Here)
President Obama - following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan - has called for the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. These dangerous, expensive weapons, which have been called the "ultimate" weapon, have provided little value to the United States (or any country.) They are a catastrophe waiting to happen and they don't deliver appreciable security. The passing of New START in December of 2010 was a great victory that presents peace activists with a renewed optimism that we can carry into our further endeavors to ban nuclear weapons.
Fifty years ago the biggest event in human history almost happened. During a fateful 13-day period in October 1962, the Soviet Union and the United States balanced at the brink of nuclear war as the Soviets attempted to establish nuclear bases in Cuba.
I had just graduated with my degree in nuclear engineering from MIT and reported to the Army nuclear power program at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. All of us spent the week glued to the TV wondering if the world's first nuclear war was about to begin. I will never forget the relief we felt when we learned that, thanks to the vision and restraint of a handful of people, this point in history would be marked by what did not occur.
What President Kennedy and his advisers didn't know as they contemplated an invasion of Cuba was that the Soviets already had tactical nuclear weapons on the island. An invasion could have started a nuclear exchange. Kennedy's advisers gave him two alternatives: an invasion or a naval blockade. Kennedy chose a blockade. Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev chose to remove the bases. Somehow, through all that tension, better sense prevailed. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Sadly though, the costs of our nuclear posture are not. We have a Cold War nuclear arsenal built to defend us from "Mad Men"-era threats. But those threats, like the three-martini lunch, are a thing of the past. And the over half a trillion dollars we're going to spend on maintaining that bloated arsenal over the next decade will be a half trillion less we can spend on the training and equipment our troops need to face 21st-century threats.
Today, President Obama has the opportunity to bring a Cold-War era policy into the 21st century and is readying a presidential policy review for our thousands-strong nuclear arsenal. What the president decides to do impacts everything from where and how the weapons are targeted to whether or not we reshape our stockpile to reflect modern needs.
For example, for the cost of one new ballistic nuclear submarine, we could provide body armor and bomb-resistant Humvees to all our troops overseas, house and treat every homeless veteran, and still have $2.2 billion left over to pay down the debt. And that is just the cost of one of the 13 new subs Congress is trying to force on the Pentagon. Our troops and security should come before pork-barrel nuclear programs.
Re-shaping our nuclear force is an issue of vision and conscience. We need the vision to recognize our world has changed, and we can't allow pork-barrel spending and bureaucratic inertia to shape our national security priorities.
As a matter of conscience, we should remember that weapons are still pointed at civilian targets, and we haven't even adopted appropriate safe guards that would reduce the chance of accidental launch. A single strike on a city can kill millions of people. And if the United States remains mired in Cold War attitudes, it makes it harder for us to lead in the effort to reduce and lock up nuclear stockpiles in other countries, which increases the risk of a nuclear weapon falling into the hands of terrorists.
It's up to the president to buck bureaucratic inertia and have the vision to confront the threats and costs our bloated stockpile has created. This week, more than a hundred political and faith leaders have signed a joint letter asking the president to do just that. They join military leaders like former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry and former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sam Nunn, who have long pushed policy-makers to reduce the role of weapons in security strategy, trim stockpiles and shave millions from the budget. I hope the president and Congress listen.
*ABOUT THE WRITER
Maj. Gen. Roger R. Blunt (retired) commanded the 97th Army Reserve Command and has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. He served with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and held the career designator of Atomic Energy Officer.
The Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World/Peace Action West worked with Eric Sapp/AVN and ReThink on this piece referencing the CMC, the organizational sign-on letter to the President, and the nuclear policy guidance. This article was picked up by the McClatchy wire service, and various outlets across the country on October 19 and 20, 9012. The opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editor.
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