Weapons of mass destruction and states breaching their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1967 – does it never end?
Terror – terrorising civilians – is a tactic. It is not defined by weapon delivery. The man who leaves a bomb in a backpack is not more of a terrorist than the pilots who bombed Guernica. Nor does terrorism become something else when bombs arrive on missiles from the next hill, from a tank, or from a submarine.
If people threaten to explode an atomic weapon in London, they are terrorists, no matter how they get it here, suitcase or missile.
And we are terrorists for owning Trident.
Worried about Iran or North Korea acquiring atomic weapons? Worry about us. We already have them. We wouldn’t use them? We could never be guilty of terrorism? Reflect that we collectively failed to prevent our participation in an invasion of Iraq that foreseeably cost hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. We are the nation that incinerated Hamburg and Dresden. Do not underestimate us. No one else does.
Worried about states breaking their promises under the 1967 Non-Proliferation Treaty? Worry about us. We’ve done nothing, nothing, towards keeping our promises to work towards nuclear disarmament, and are now discussing renewal of the Trident system. As calmly as if the Treaty laid no obligations upon us.
This kind of muddled thinking needs challenges. Here’s one from Hans Blix:
The anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty has been abrogated; the requirement for effective verification and irreversibility of nuclear-arms reductions have been weakened; the treaty on comprehensive cessation of nuclear-weapons tests has not been ratifed by all the nuclear powers. The goal of the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons has been essentially forgotten. What is more, the military doctrines of major powers, first the United States and then, to some extent, Russia, have re-emphasised nuclear weapons as an acceptable means of war fighting, to be used in a first or even in a ‘pre-emptive’ strike. All this is a blatant violation of the nuclear powers’ commitments under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its Article V is clear and unambiguous: nations that are capable of making nuclear weapons shall forgo that possibility in exchange for the promise by members of the nuclear club to reduce and eventually abolish their nuclear arsenals. If this reciprocity is not observed, the the entire structure of the treaty will collapse.
Iran’s recent moves have drawn all the attention. But we and the other nuclear-armed powers (doesn’t club sound just so cosy?) are the major offenders.
It seems more than just possible that renewing Trident would be illegal (under our NPT obligations) and a war crime, according to the opinion of the International Court of Justice, referred to in the following essay by Tadatoshi Akiba, Mayor of Hiroshima, lifted from issue 92 of The Spokesman.
At a Crossroads Radiation, heat, blast and their synergetic effects created a hell on Earth. Sixty-one years later, the number of nations enamoured of evil and enslaved by nuclear weapons is increasing. The human family stands at a crossroads. Will all nations be enslaved? Or will all nations be liberated? This choice poses another question. Is it acceptable for cities, and especially the innocent children who live in them, to be targeted by nuclear weapons?
The answer is crystal clear, and the past sixty-one years have shown us the path to liberation.
From a hell in which no one could have blamed them for choosing death, the hibakusha set forth towards life and the future. Living with injuries and illnesses eating away at body and mind, they have spoken persistently about their experiences. Refusing to bow before discrimination, slander and scorn, they have warned continuously that ‘no one else should ever suffer as we did’. Their voices, picked up by people of conscience the world over, are becoming a powerful mass chorus.
The keynote is, ‘The only role for nuclear weapons is to be abolished’. And yet, the world’s political leaders continue to ignore these voices. The International Court of Justice advisory opinion handed down ten years ago, born of the creative action of global civil society, should have been a highly effective tool for enlightening them and guiding them towards truth.
The Court found that ‘…the threat or use nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law’, and went on to declare,
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.
If the nuclear-weapon states had taken the lead and sought in good faith to fulfil this obligation, nuclear weapons would have been abolished already. Unfortunately, during the past ten years, most nations and most people have failed to confront this obligation head-on. Regretting that we have not done more, the City of Hiroshima, along with Mayors for Peace, whose member cities have increased to 1,403, is launching Phase II of our 2020 Vision Campaign. This phase includes the Good Faith Challenge, a campaign to promote the good-faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament called for in the ICJ advisory opinion, and a Cities Are Not Targets project demanding that nuclear-weapon states stop targeting cities for nuclear attack.
Nuclear weapons are illegal, immoral weapons designed to obliterate cities. Our goals are to reveal the delusions behind ‘nuclear deterrence theory’ and the ‘nuclear umbrella’, which hold cities hostage, and to protect, from a legal and moral standpoint, our citizens’ right to life.
Taking the lead in this effort is the United States Conference of Mayors, representing 1,319 American cities. At its national meeting this past June, the Conference adopted a resolution demanding that all nuclear-weapon states including the United States, immediately cease targeting of cities with nuclear weapons.
Cities and citizens of the world have a duty to release the lost sheep from the spell and liberate the world from nuclear weapons. The time has come for all of us to awaken and arise with a will that can penetrate rock and a passion that burns like fire.
I call on the Japanese government to advocate for the hibakusha and all citizens by conducting a global campaign that will forcefully insist that the nuclear-weapon states ‘negotiate in good faith for nuclear disarmament’. To that end, I demand that the government respect the Peace Constitution of which we should be proud. I further request more generous people-oriented assistance appropriate to the actual situations of the ageing hibakusha, including those living overseas and those exposed in the ‘black rain areas’.
To console the many victims whose names remain unknown, this year for the first time we added the words ‘Many Unknown’ to the ledger of victims’ names placed in the cenotaph. We humbly pray for the peaceful repose of the souls of all atomic bomb victims and a future of peace and harmony for the human family.