How to Support a Test Ban, Prevent Proliferation

Warren Allmand, M.P. (Lib.) is introducing a private member's bill to the House of Commons: "that in the opinion of this House, the government, as a signatory to the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty, should support the recent initiative made by 39 signatory countries to convene an Amendment Conference of all signatory countries to the treaty to convert it into a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which would prohibit the testing of all nuclear weapons."

The Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 has an unusual amending clause. One-third of the signatory countries can require the depositary countries (Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union) to convene a meeting for the purpose of converting it to a comprehensive treaty. This condition has been met, and the conference is expected to convene next year.

The U.S. and Britain will not now accept a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). However, the preamble to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty calls for a Comprehensive Test Ban, and Article VI calls for the "cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date."

The Amendment Conference will provide a multilateral forum. Current negotiations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union are transparently a stalling device letting the U.S. pretend to be proceeding "step by step" toward a CTBT.

Supporters of the Amendment Conference want it to meet before the next five-year review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1990, for that will strengthen the demand for a CTBT. However, the U.S. is attempting to delay the conference.

Although the U.S. can refuse to sign an amendment, it can neither prevent nor terminate the conference. Those countries demanding a CTBT can indefinitely focus a spotlight of global publicity on these proceedings. This will generate political pressure, especially as the Cold War ends. Moreover, if the amendment is adopted, other nations will automatically be bound by the new CTBT, including the six near-nuclear countries that are not parties to the NPT. These are Argentina, Brazil, India, Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa. If they cannot test, they are unlikely to acquire nuclear weapons. The amendment is also in the interest of other countries because the three nuclear powers that are parties to the treaty (and who would also be barred from testing) would be unlikely to build up new or modernized stockpiles of nuclear weapons, thus curbing vertical proliferation as well.

The Amendment Conference will be a multilateral forum of all the parties, the first time there has been such a meeting. Global issues should be addressed by delegates from all societies, not just superpowers, and treaty provisions should be considered by all the parties.

Individual M.P.s are able to introduce "Private Member Bills." Before Commons convenes, about 500 such bills are submitted. At a draw, 20 of them are selected to be brought to the House; Allmand's bill was one of these. No date has been set for it to be brought up. One of these 20 (unfortunately, not Allmand's) is selected by a committee for a mandatory vote.

Whether this bill passes or not, it creates a rare opportunity to support the CTBT. At the First Committee of the United Nations, Canada has said that, despite its earlier opposition, since the conference is now going to be held, it will participate constructively. While this is a welcome step, it remains to be seen how Canada interprets "constructive" participation. Peace activists will encourage all M.P.s to support the motion. Inform them of the far-reaching implications of this bill, including the adverse effect it could have on the NPT if the three depositaries show no flexibility.

What Santa Did Last Year


While passing through Toronto last November, St. Nick was surprised to find stores selling toys that promote violence. Santa knew that he and his elves hadn't made them; Santa makes only good toys for children. So Santa and his friends at the Alliance for Non-Violent Action wrote to major toy stores, asking them to meet to discuss removing the violent toys. No reply was received, so Santa was forced to take direct action.

Having announced their plans at a press conference, six Santas, some green-booted elves, musicians, and other supporters Ho-Ho-Ho'd their way into the delighted crowd at Toy City, giving out gifts and war toy leaflets along the way. They carefully removed the violent toys from the shelves and stuffed them into garbage bags, leaving them piled in the aisles, as the store staff vainly tried to keep the Santas away. After an hour of filling garbage bags, handing out candy canes, and talking to the children and parents, the Santas encountered a dozen sheepish police officers, who reluctantly escorted them to waiting police cars, while the children and customers cheered the Santas.

Peace Magazine Dec 1989-Jan 1990

Peace Magazine Dec 1989-Jan 1990, page 31. Some rights reserved.

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