Nuclear arms: the big questions...
an article by Daniel Durand, Culture de paix blog
Proliferation and nuclear disarmament will be, as
every year, on the agenda of the discussions,
which will open on Monday 22 April in Geneva, in
preparation of the Review Conference of the NPT
(Nuclear Non-Proliferation) in 2015. This meeting
was originally scheduled as a routine step in the
monitoring process of the action plan adopted in
2010 by the Conference in New York. The assessment
disappointed the majority of non-nuclear countries
and NGOs who found no significant progress in
reducing the number of nuclear warheads in the
world, as well as continued modernization of
weapons and no change in the military doctrines
based on the famous and contested notion of
"nuclear deterrence." But the upcoming meeting,
which was expected (sadly) to be routine, has been
enlivened by three major events, both positive and
negative in my opinion, that occurred in the past
The bronze sculpture "Let Us Beat Our Swords into Ploughshares," was created by Soviet artist Evgeny Vuchetich, and presented to the United Nations by the Government of the USSR. Credit: UN Photo/Andrea Brizzi
click on photo to enlarge
Let's start with the Conference held in Oslo on 6
March 2013, on "humanitarian consequences of the
use of nuclear weapons." For the first time since
1945, an international conference at the highest
level bringing together 127 representatives of
governments, international institutions, including
the International Red Cross, decided to give a new
impetus to avert the nuclear threat to mankind
(See CPNN article of March 20. The conference
agreed with the Red Cross that on both
international and national levels, there is no
way to effectively respond to the consequences of
a nuclear explosion, even one that is "limited" in
The Final Declaration of the Conference taken at
the initiative of ICAN (International Campaign for
Nuclear Disarmament) notes that in the case of a
nuclear explosion, "The consequences would be
global, long-term and completely disastrous for
human health, our environment, our development,
security, human rights and food resources (...) ".
The five nuclear powers decided in the end to
boycott the conference, considering that it could
create a "diversion" from the "step-by-step"
process of the NPT and the Conference on
Disarmament. Their position was not shared by
several NATO countries and other major countries
such as Japan, South Korea and Australia, all
countries that are "covered" by the American
nuclear umbrella. The fact that the NPT Review
Conferences and the Conference on Disarmament have
made no progress for 16 years makes one skeptical
about the so-called "risk of diversion"!
Hopefully, during the Geneva meeting on the NPT, the
representatives of the nuclear powers will be
severely questioned about their absence in Oslo.
Two events are likely to weigh negatively on the
progress of the Geneva meeting: the first was the
postponement, announced by the United States on 23
November 2012 of the Conference on the creation
of a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass
destruction that had been scheduled for December
18 in Helsinki.
(This article is continued in the discussionboard)
Click here for the original article in French.
Question(s) related to this article:
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?,
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LATEST READER COMMENT:
'THE WORLD IS OVER-ARMED AND PEACE IS UNDER-FUNDED'
30 August 2012 — The following opinion piece by Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon has appeared in leading newspapers in Argentina, Bangladesh, Burundi, China, Germany, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Malaysia, The Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and European weekly publications and has been translated into 10 languages.
Last month, competing interests prevented agreement on a much-needed treaty that would have reduced the appalling human cost of the poorly regulated international arms trade. Meanwhile, nuclear disarmament efforts remain stalled, despite strong and growing global popular sentiment in support of this cause.
The failure of these negotiations and this month's anniversaries of the atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki provide a good opportunity to explore what has gone wrong, why disarmament and arms control have proven so difficult to achieve, and how the world community can get back on track towards these vitally important goals.
Many defence establishments now recognize that security means far more than protecting borders. Grave security concerns can arise as a result of demographic trends, chronic poverty, economic inequality, environmental degradation, pandemic diseases, organized crime, repressive governance and other developments no state can control alone. Arms can't address such concerns.
Yet there has been a troubling lag between recognizing these new security challenges, and launching new policies to address them. National budget priorities still tend to reflect the old paradigms. Massive military spending and new investments in modernizing nuclear weapons have left the world over-armed -- and peace under-funded.
Last year, global military spending reportedly exceeded $1.7 trillion – more than $4.6 billion a day, which alone is almost twice the UN's budget for an entire year. This largesse includes billions more for modernizing nuclear arsenals decades into the future.
This level of military spending is hard to explain in a post-Cold War world and amidst a global financial crisis. Economists would call this an "opportunity cost". . ...more.