Hope After 70 Years
letter to the editor published by Dr. Vinay Jindal, chair of the Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition, August 7, 2015
Thank you for highlighting the continued threat that nuclear weapons pose to humankind in your editorial of August 6th . The reduction in nuclear warheads by both USA and Russia is not reassuring when nuclear weapons continue to be modernized with better accuracy, lower yield and less fallout, improving the versatility and acceptability of nuclear weapon use. We have become numb to “Launchon-Warning” though the threat of approximately 1,800 nuclear weapons ready to launch within 15 minutes continues to hang over our heads.
Non-proliferation, ensuring more countries do not obtain nuclear weapons gives credibility to states that already possess them. Nuclear disarmament, getting to global zero is a much more difficulty issue for governments to discuss. Until now.
There is hope for a nuclear weapons-free world; global initiatives are pushing nuclear disarmament talks to new levels. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), modelled after the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), continues to gain momentum since its launch in 2007. ICAN empowers the masses and pushes governments to discuss a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC). Step-by-step, negotiated and verified.
The three Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons conferences in Oslo, Nayarit (Mexico) and Vienna forever changed the conversation surrounding nuclear disarmament. Non-nuclear weapons states took control and discussed the humanitarian risks of nuclear weapons, leaving behind the MAD numbers game that dominated disarmament talks in the past. The first of these conferences, in Oslo, was denounced by the Big 5 nuclear powers (USA, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China) but the conversation continued in their absence. The discussion of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was so profound that by the final conference in Vienna the USA and the UK accepted the standing invitation to participate and sent representation.
Unfortunately, to most Canadians this is all new information. While support around the world is growing to abolish nuclear weapons, the Canadian public is largely uninformed unless they actively search for information outside of mainstream media. Canada’s peace community continues to support initiatives for nuclear disarmament but they remain on the fringe of newsworthy in Canada.
This August 6th, Toronto’s Hiroshima/ Nagasaki Day Coalition hosted a Commemoration Ceremony for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki entitled “Ground Zero to Global Zero: Hope After 70 Years”. The Keynote speaker was Paul Dewar, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND). His speech “Why Canada Needs to be a Leader on Eliminating Nuclear Weapons” both addressed the threats your editorial espoused and the global initiatives for nuclear abolition. Mr. Dewar is currently the NDP candidate for MP in Ottawa Centre but far from politicking during a newly called election, he represented PNND, a non-partisan organization that includes a Conservative as Co-chair, former Liberal appointed Senator Romeo Dallaire (PNND Special Representative) and former PC MP and Senator Douglas Roche (Alumni Member of the PNND Global Council, Founding Chair).
As well, Toronto is fortunate to have its own Setsuko Thurlow, Hiroshima atomic-bomb survivor and international peace activist, take her message around the world, “we have a moral imperative to abolish nuclear arsenals, in order to ensure a safe and just world for future generations”. Ms. Thurlow, a strong voice internationally for the Hibakusha and a proud of Canadian, is nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for her quest for nuclear abolition that included addressing governments and NGO’s in Nayarit, Vienna and at the United Nations’ 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT).
With the Doomsday Clock set at three minutes to midnight complacency is no longer an option. When the world is able to speak with one voice, with one message, it will be much more powerful than any nuclear weapon.
The world is waiting for us. Dr. Vinay Jindal Chair, Toronto’s Hiroshima/ Nagasaki Day Coalition Board Member, Physicians for Global Survival (Canada)