Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Support for Nuclear Ban Treaty Is Rising. Nuclear Nations Are on the Defensive. 

Beyond politics, pressure to support the TPNW is being applied at the city, state and county levels by large municipalities like Sydney, Toronto, Paris and Washington, D.C., as well as smaller ones from Anchorage to Zurich to Helsinki. Around the world, in nuclear weapons-free countries as well as nuclear-armed nations, a growing number of people recognize that nuclear weapons — like chemical, biological and other banned weapons of mass destruction — should be declared illegal and unacceptable at every level.

Support for Nuclear Ban Treaty Is Rising. Nuclear Nations Are on the Defensive. Jon LetmanTruthout, September 24, 2021 

Nuclear tensions and nuclear spending are on the rise, but the elevated danger of nuclear weapons is overshadowed as other urgent global threats from the COVID pandemic, climate and environmental emergencies, and other urgent crises dominate news headlines. The United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which entered into force in January, receives scant media attention, even as the United Nations prepares to mark September 26 as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Unlike other nuclear treaties and agreements, the TPNW, or nuclear ban treaty as it is also known, prohibits all activity including development, testing, production, acquisition, possession, stockpiling, and the use or threat to use nuclear weapons. The treaty also has provisions to assist victims of nuclear weapons use or testing, and for environmental remediation.

As the number of countries adopting and ratifying the TPNW grows, the division between treaty supporters and opponents remains stark. Proponents say the treaty represents a new norm in which nuclear weapons are not only immoral, but also illegal. Opponents see the treaty as too drastic, ineffective and as undermining nuclear deterrence policies.

Of the 122 countries which voted in 2017 to adopt the ban treaty, 56 are now state parties, having ratified the treaty. These include three of the world’s most populous nations: Mexico, Nigeria and Bangladesh. Chile became the most recent country to ratify the treaty on September 23. The TPNW has been ratified around the world from tiny island nations Tuvalu, Nauru and Malta to enormous countries like Kazakhstan, South Africa and Venezuela. Jamaica, Botswana, Bolivia, Palestine and the Philippines are also state parties, and both Indonesia and Brazil are expected to ratify in the coming months.

In contrast, the governments of all nine nuclear-armed states oppose the treaty, as do five nations hosting U.S. nuclear weapons (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Turkey) and “nuclear-endorsing” nations that include Australia, Japan, South Korea and all of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members.

In a 2018 declaration, NATO said the TPNW is “at odds with the existing non-proliferation and disarmament architecture, risks undermining the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons), is inconsistent with [NATO’s] nuclear deterrence policy and will not enhance any country’s security.”

Alicia Sanders-Zakre, policy and research coordinator with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), disputes NATO’s assertion, arguing that the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons is fully compatible and complementary to existing nonproliferation and disarmament commitments.

In an email to Truthout, Sanders-Zakre pointed out that public opinion polls in at least six NATO member states reflect high levels of support for joining the treaty. As a tool designed to eliminate nuclear weapons, she added, the treaty increases the stigma against those weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

“As this stigma grows internationally and domestically … NATO political leaders will no longer be able to support the continued existence of [WMD] … it is only a matter of time before political leaders will represent the will of their people to join the TPNW.”

NATO did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Deterrence Against Whom?

Illustrating the complexity of differing positions on the treaty are the 43 nations under the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD). More than one-third of the 43 countries have ratified the TPNW, but the bloc also includes four nuclear-armed states: China, North Korea, India and Pakistan.

Yuriy Kryvonos, director of UNRCPD, said nuclear-armed states often claim their arsenals serve as a deterrence tool. “Against whom [does] this deterrence tool exist? Against other nuclear-armed states.” The argument, he said, is “nonsense” because a nuclear war cannot be won; claiming protection from nuclear weapons is an illusion. Arguments that the TPNW undermines the NPT, Kryvonos insisted, do not hold water………………………………

Cracks in the Edifice

Today, the United States and Russia possess around 91 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. Both countries are modernizing and expanding their nuclear capabilities, but in 2020, the U.S. increased its spending on nuclear weapons to $37.4 billion — more than twice what Russia and China spent combined.

This month, The Intercept published a letter from 29 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus calling on President Biden to limit the role of nuclear weapons, reduce unnecessary spending, and pursue additional arms control and risk-reduction measures.

To date, 11 members of the U.S. Congress have gone further by signing the ICAN Parliamentary (Legislative) Pledge stating their support for the TPNW…………….

Beyond politics, pressure to support the TPNW is being applied at the city, state and county levels by large municipalities like Sydney, Toronto, Paris and Washington, D.C., as well as smaller ones from Anchorage to Zurich to Helsinki. Around the world, in nuclear weapons-free countries as well as nuclear-armed nations, a growing number of people recognize that nuclear weapons — like chemical, biological and other banned weapons of mass destruction — should be declared illegal and unacceptable at every level.

As the number of TPNW state parties grows, the nine nuclear-dependent nations and their supporters face a future in which they will be increasingly isolated, outside of international norms, clinging to a class of deadly weapons the world cannot afford and which, if ever used, could wreak global catastrophe at an unimaginable scale and bring life on Earth to a sudden and unexpected end. https://truthout.org/articles/support-for-nuclear-ban-treaty-is-rising-nuclear-nations-are-on-the-defensive/

September 25, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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