Weaning the world off nuclear weapons: a new coalition

By Phyllis Creighton | 1994-03-01 12:00:00

Science for Peace has agreed to join the new International Coalition for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. When you read its plans, you may find yourself urging your own group to join also.

The coalition was founded by five international peace organizations-International Peace Bureau (IPB), International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, and International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms. These are effective organizations, and by working together they seem to be creating exactly what is needed, and in the nick of time: a powerful new campaign for peace and disarmament. The December 1993 founding declaration indicates the need to work together intensely as we prepare for three important events in 1995: the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Extension Conference, the commemoration of the founding of the United Nations, and the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Science for Peace hopes other peace groups will sign on and get to work.

The declaration presents an analysis of the current situation. It begins: "The threat of nuclear war continues to menace humanity. Ever since the UN General Assembly first met in January 1946 the vast majority of the world's states have been committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons."

Although the end of the Cold War seemed to promise release from the terror of "deterrence," today we face perils from both vertical and horizontal nuclear weapons proliferation. Threats arise from the collapse of the former USSR, and from arms races both between de facto nuclear weapons states (India, Pakistan, and Israel) or threshold states (Iraq and North Korea), and between these countries and the five declared nuclear weapons states who cling to their nuclear supremacy.

During the next two years we have an opportunity to promote an effective non-proliferation regime and push for the elimination of nuclear arsenals. The declaration reaches out to the public: "We appeal to citizens in all countries to act forcefully to assert their rights to protection from nuclear contamination, and to safeguard generations to come and the planet itself."

The 1995 NPT Extension Conference could prove the turning-point of the nuclear age. The conference must tackle both horizontal and vertical proliferation, while reconciling widely differing interpretations of the treaty itself. The treaty, says the coalition, is discriminatory. Not condemning the five nuclear weapon states in possession and development of nuclear weapons, itimposes strict controls on the nuclear "havenots," and makes no provision to enforce the early end to testing and drastic cuts in arsenals that are embodied in Article VI and the Preamble. Thus it gives credibility to the notion that possession and development of nuclear weapons by these five is an acceptable resolution of a global security problem. The declaration urges that the conference challenge the unbalanced interpretation of the treaty, and use Article VI and the Preamble as leverage for enforcing nuclear disarmament.

The founders of the coalition outline a broad program for the next two years. There are enough projects here to keep us all busy.

1. Our Top Objective Is To Work Toward The Elimination Of Nuclear Weapons.

The main step toward this goal will be to reach a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty before the NPT Extension Conference. A treaty will be achieved only if public pressure is generated.

We must also achieve deeper cuts in nuclear weapons-beyond those in START 1 and 2. We must seek rapid elimination of all multiple warhead land-and submarinebased missiles and all (air-launched) tactical nuclear weapons.

Our coalition is also promoting nuclear free zones, which will be accomplished by ratification of existing treaties and negotiation to establish new zones.

Further, we will intensify our support for the World Court Project, to establish the illegality of nuclear weapons.

Finally, the coalition will press for a Convention for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, along the lines of the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.

2. A Second Objective Is To Preserve The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Beyond 1995.

The long-term extension of the NPT and universal adherence to it can happen only if the nuclear weapons states will commit themselves to more substantial disarmament measures and stop developing new nuclear weapons. Long overdue measures such as No-First-Use commitments must be sought.

We should be especially vigilant in opposing nuclear miniaturization, missile defence programs, and such new programs as the British Trident and French M5/M45 systems.

Wewill work to promote universal participation in the treaty regime.

3. Another Objective Named In The Declaration Is To Strengthen The Overall Non-Proliferation Regime.

This goal requires a reform of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to increase its transparency, impartiality, and funding. Our coalition wants to stop all promotion of nuclear energy. Instead, new programs should be created to deal with safety and decommissioning, and with verification of nuclear disarmament agreements. Moreover, a new UN agency should be created to promote renewable energy.

The coalition favors increasing the authority of the IAEA, to permit unannounced, special, and challenge inspections, use of further verification methods (such as satellite monitoring), and support for citizen verification and "whistleblowers."

We call for an end to production and use of weapons-grade plutonium, highly enriched uranium, and tritium, as well as application of full-scope safeguards to nuclear weapons states and all international nuclear transfers.

Control mechanisms for delivery systems are needed, including the dismantling of those systems used for strategic nuclear weapons. We further call for a global ban on ballistic missile flight tests. We urge limiting the military use of Satellite Launch Vehicle technology and of nuclearcapable attack aircraft and cruise missiles. We want tighter restrictions on missile production, and enhanced international cooperation on civilian space projects.

4. The Coalition Calls For An Alternative System Of Security.

Far greater resources must be committed to global, comprehensive common security based on cooperation and nonviolent means.

The new security arrangements should include preventive diplomacy, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and minimum-force peace-keeping.

Moreover, we want a democratized, reformed United Nations.

We also call for a reduction in the production and transfer of conventional arms.

This alternative security system will require sustained efforts by citizens to help bring together nations and peoples facing imminent or actual military confrontation.

5. The Coalition Proposes Vital Roles For Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) And Citizens' Groups.

The world needs such groups to step up their effort to promote non-proliferation, a nuclear weapon-free world, and ultimately general and complete disarmament.

Citizens' groups must alert the public to the danger the world faces, and the opportunity to bring about change through concerted action.

NGOs must press governments to allow them to participate in creating and implementing non-proliferation and disarmament

Phyllis Creighton is an associate editor of Peace Magazineand a board member of Science for Peace.

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1994

Peace Magazine Mar-Apr 1994, page 22. Some rights reserved.

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