CALL TO ACTION: Spring 2015 Mobilization
The following letter was written by Dr. Joseph Gerson of the American Friends Service Committee addressing the necessity of a nuclear weapons-free world.
NPT Review 2015 Call
Sept. 26, 2014
CALL TO ACTION: SPRING 2015 MOBILIZATION
for a nuclear free, fair, democratic, ecologically sustainable and peaceful future
A nuclear weapons-free world can and must be achieved. Together, people’s movements and governments committed to securing human survival by eliminating the world’s nuclear arsenals can prevail. Building on our popular mobilizations since the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995, we call on all people who want to build a fair, democratic, ecologically sustainable and peaceful future to join us in the streets and meeting halls in New York and in your own capitals and cities worldwide in late April and early May, 2015, during the NPT 5-year Review Conference. Joining with “move the money” and climate change forces we will press the nuclear powers to fulfill their Article VI commitments to engage in good faith negotiations for the complete elimination of their nuclear arsenals, for deep reductions of military spending in order to meet human needs, and for measures to reverse the devastation being wrought by climate change.
We issue this call at a crucial juncture in history, a moment when the unresolved tensions of a deeply inequitable society, great power ambitions and the destructive effects of an unsustainable economic system are exploding into overlapping crises. Tensions among nuclear-armed countries are rising amidst circumstances that bear worrisome resemblances to those that brought the world wars of the last century. For the first time in the nuclear age we are in a sustained global economic crisis that is deepening the gulf between rich and poor in a starkly two-tier world. Both climate change and fossil-fuel based economies generate conflicts within and among states. Extreme economic inequality and the economic policies that create it, NATO’s aggressive expansion, struggles over diminishing fossil fuels, food price spikes and crop failures drive wars and revive arms races from Iraq to Syria to Ukraine to South Asia and the Western Pacific. We face a moment in which policies that benefit a fraction of the world’s population feed conflicts that could precipitate catastrophic wars, even nuclear wars, and in which the power to make war is wielded by largely unaccountable elites.
The 2010 NPT Review Conference reaffirmed “the unequivocal undertaking of the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament.” Five more years have passed; another Review Conference is in the offing. Nuclear stockpiles of civilization-destroying size persist, and even limited progress on disarmament has stalled. Over 16,000 nuclear weapons remain, with 10,000 in military service and 1800 on high alert. All nuclear-armed states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, manifesting the intention to sustain them for decades to come.
Nuclear-armed countries spend over $100 billion per year on nuclear weapons and related costs. Those expenditures are expected to increase as nuclear weapon States modernize their warheads and delivery systems. Spending on high-tech weapons not only deepens the reliance of some governments on their nuclear arsenals, but also furthers the growing divide between rich and poor. In 2013, $1.75 trillion was spent on militaries and armaments – more than the total annual income of the poorest third of the world’s population.
The capacity to sustain a nuclear fuel cycle and to operate reactors provides the technological base for the production of nuclear weapons. Many of the same institutions that insist that nuclear weapons provide political security claim that nuclear power can provide energy security. While the NPT bargain wrongly includes the right of all countries to develop peaceful nuclear energy, it does not obligate them to do so. With the dangers of proliferation and in the wake of the Fukushima power plant disaster, it should be clear that the human and ecological costs of nuclear power are unacceptable.
Countries that are free of nuclear weapons, supported by peace organizations around the world, have responded to the growing atmosphere of conflict and confrontation involving nuclear-armed states with renewed, urgent calls for disarmament – calls the nuclear weapon states have largely ignored:
- At the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the parties agreed unanimously to organize a conference on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction, to be held in 2012 and to be convened “with the full support and engagement of the nuclear-weapon States.” That conference has yet to be convened.
- In November, 2011, the International Red Cross reminded the world that nuclear weapons cause “incalculable human suffering” and that as a consequence there is an “absolute imperative” to prevent any use of nuclear weapons. It called for negotiations to “completely eliminate nuclear weapons.” In March, 2013, Norway hosted a conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, with 127 governments in attendance. Mexico hosted a follow-on conference in Nayarit in February, 2014, with 146 governments present. Both conferences were boycotted by the P-5 nuclear weapon possessing nations. A third conference, hosted by Austria, is scheduled for December, 2014 in Vienna.
- The P-5 also boycotted the Open-Ended Working Group which was mandated “to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons,” established by the UN General Assembly in 2012. The General Assembly also initiated an unprecedented High Level Meeting on nuclear disarmament in September, 2013, to which the P-5 sent only low-level representatives.
- In April, 2014, The Republic of the Marshall Islands initiated a challenge in the International Court of Justice, urging the ICJ to find the nine nuclear-armed states in noncompliance with their obligations to disarm under international law. This courageous action by direct victims of nuclear colonialism reminds us that disarmament depends on collective action by the people of the world, using all available peaceful means. We urge governments of non-nuclear weapons States to participate by intervening in the Marshall Islands cases or by filing their own parallel applications.
2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the United States atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It also marks 45 years since the first five nuclear powers agreed in Article VI of the NPT to undertake good faith negotiations for the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. It is long past time for the world’s people to call to account all those who exercise power by threatening nuclear annihilation.
- We call upon the parties to the NPT to use the 2015 Review Conference to immediately, without delay, develop a time-bound framework for negotiating the total ban and elimination of all nuclear arsenals.
- We call on the four states outside the Treaty that have nuclear arms, India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan, to join in any such negotiations, immediately and without delay.
- We urge all people who hope to build a fair, democratic, ecologically sustainable and peaceful future to join us in New York City and around the world for international days of action, including:
- An international peace, justice and environmental conference – April 24 & 25;
- A major international rally, march to the United Nations and peace festival – April 26;
- Nonviolent demonstrations, protest actions and numerous side events to press our demands for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, and for economic justice and environmental sustainability;
- The presentation to the NPT Review Conference of millions of signatures on petitions calling for nuclear weapons abolition;
- Youth and student organizing; and
- An Interfaith Service for Nuclear Weapons Abolition
Let our numbers be so large that our voices are certain to be heard inside the UN and around the world!
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