Peace Magazine: Newsworthy

Peace Magazine


• published Jul 06, 2024 • last edit Jul 11, 2024


During the 20th century, more than 2,000 nuclear weapons were tested, with lasting environmental and health consequences. The United States has not fully addressed the aftermath of its testing, with lasting contamination affecting numerous communities. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which provided support to those affected, expired recently, leaving many without federal assistance.

Despite the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1996, which neither the United States nor China ratified and Russia recently withdrew from, all three countries have been upgrading their nuclear testing facilities. Satellite images reveal new buildings, roads, and tunnels, indicating preparations for potential future tests.

The U.S. is expanding its facilities in Nevada for subcritical tests, which involve explosives but do not trigger a nuclear chain reaction. Russia is enhancing its Novaya Zemlya site in the Arctic Ocean with tunnels into the side of a mountain range, and at China’s Lop Nur site, there are about 30 new buildings and new vertical shafts that can host larger nuclear tests than the older horizontal tunnels.

The SIPRI Yearbook 2024 reports on the continued modernization of nuclear arsenals among the nine nuclear armed states: United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel. As of January 2024, there were about 12,121 nuclear warheads globally, with about 9,585 in military stockpiles. About 2100 of the deployed warheads were on high operational alert on ballistic missiles. China is expanding its arsenal and may soon have a comparable number of intercontinental ballistic missiles to the U.S. and Russia.

Together, Russia and the USA own about 90 percent of all nuclear weapons. The total number of their useable warheads has not changed much, but Russia is estimated to have deployed around 36 more warheads since January 2023.

“While the global total of nuclear warheads continues to fall as cold war-era weapons are gradually dismantled, regrettably we continue to see year-on-year increases in the number of operational nuclear warheads,” said SIPRI Director Dan Smith.

Transparency has declined, particularly between the U.S. and Russia, following the latter’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Russia’s suspension of the New START treaty and its withdrawal from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty signify setbacks in arms control. Also, there been unverified claims that Russia has deployed nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Tensions over Ukraine and Gaza have further weakened nuclear diplomacy. Russia’s military drills and threats regarding nuclear weapons, in addition to proxy conflicts involving Iran, have undermined international efforts to manage and reduce nuclear threats. An informal agreement between Iran and the U.S. was disrupted by the Israel-Hamas conflict, illustrating the fragile state of nuclear diplomacy in the current geopolitical climate.

Sources: The 2024 Annual report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and W. J. Hennigan’s report in New York Times, “At the Brink.” https://www.nytimes. com/interactive/2024/06/20/opin- ion/nuclear-weapons-testing.html?- campaign_


The 2024 UN Civil Society Conference was held on 9-10 May 2024 in Nairobi, with delegates from 1424 organizations represented. As it is aligned with the UN’s Summit of the Future that will occur in September 2024, the co-facilitators of the Summit’s three main negotiation tracks attended and 20 new “ImPact Coalitions” were created to address the topics that will determine success of the Summit’s outcome – the proposed “Pact for the Future.”

Delegates from civil society, governments, the United Nations, youth, academia, media, and other stakeholders joined in 37 workshops, exhibits, and the ImPact Coalition discussions. About 40 percent of the attendees were youths under 35 who advocated for greater representation in UN processes.

At the closing ceremony, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President of the Republic of Kenya, Dr. William Ruto called for civil society to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, promote peace, and address the new threats of digital technology.

Source: Coalition for the. UN We Need.


Hunger in Gaza remains dire, with acute malnutrition rates doubling within two months among children under age two. During April, the World Food Programme (WFP) reached over 1.6 million people Palestinians despite severe limitations on aid distribution.

Since the war in Sudan be- gan in April 2023, it has de- stroyed food factories, hospitals, banks, farms, bridges, and has displaced over 8 million people. Many refugees have fled, especially to South Sudan and Chad.

The war in Ukraine, which began in February 2022, has left millions of Ukrainians displaced internally and across Europe. Since March 2022, the U.N. World Food Programme has distributed food and cash for 2.5 billion meals to Ukrainians affected by the war. ■

Source: UN World Food Programme https://www.wfpusa. org/articles/spring-impact-update- on-wfps-response-to-the-global-hunger-crisis

Published in Peace Magazine Vol.40, No.3 Jul-Sep 2024
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