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Pinned 3 months 3 weeks ago onto Nuclear Disarmament

Abolish War

Source: https://typehost.com/peace/assuring-destruction-forever-2017.pdf

ASSURING DESTRUCTION FOREVER: Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (2017)

'It’s 2017 and there are about 14,900 nuclear weapons in the world.(1) The detonation of even a fraction of these weapons would destroy the planet and end human civilisation as we know it.(2) Yet even now, nearly twenty years into the twenty-first century, with all of our understanding of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons and the global economic and climactic strains on our existence, some states are investing in a nuclear arms race.

China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea(DPRK), France, India, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States all possess the capacity to detonate nuclear explosive devices. The DPRK’s programme is relatively recent and in development,(3) but the rest of these states have had nuclear weapons for decades. They are now all “modernising” their arsenals of warheads and delivery systems. Some are also expanding the size of their arsenals.

These “modernisation” programmes are not, as this study has shown since in its first edition in 2012, just about “increasing the safety and security” of nuclear arsenals, which is what the governments of these countries claim. The “upgrades” in many cases provide new capabilities to the weapon systems. They also extend the lives of these weapon systems beyond the middle of this century, ensuring that the arms race will continue indefinitely.

Modernisation of nuclear weapons is driven largely by the quest for military advantage.

Nuclear “deterrence” requires the threat of the use of nuclear weapons to be credible, and preparations for such use, legitimate. Modernisation, especially if new capacities are created, refreshes the perceived utility and credibility of nuclear use, both technically and politically. The only way to prevent states from modernising their nuclear weapons is to prohibit and eliminate the weapons.

A treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons is currently in development.(4) This treaty will hopefully make investments in nuclear weapon modernisation, and inclusion of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, increasingly difficult. By finally outlawing nuclear weapons the same way other weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical, have been outlawed, the perceived “legitimacy” of the possession and modernisation of nuclear weapons will be stripped away.

In the meantime, states are already legally obligated to achieve nuclear disarmament. Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligates all states parties to “undertake to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”

Nuclear weapon modernisation is the qualitative aspect of the “nuclear arms race”. Forty-seven years ago the NPT required this practice to end “at an early date,” an outcome the Treaty paired with “good faith” progress toward nuclear disarmament. The NPT, especially as unanimously and authoritatively interpreted by the International Court of Justice, requires nuclear disarmament.(5)

The illegitimacy of nuclear weapons is a foundation of the NPT.

Thus nuclear weapon modernisation goes against the letter and spirit of international law. These programmes are also absurd and immoral, in light of the known consequences of their use and in light of the economic, social, and environmental crises we collectively face. The nine states possessing nuclear weapons, and the countries that support the modernisation and perpetuation of their arsenals by including nuclear weapons in their security doctrines, are all complicit in this horrific threat to the planet.

These states’ failure to meet their legal obligation to end the nuclear arms race and eliminate their arsenals must be met with resolve for concrete action by non-nuclear-armed states so as to avoid further entrenchment of the indefinite possession of nuclear weapons. All governments have the responsibility to prevent a humanitarian and environmental tragedy.

The nuclear weapon ban treaty is a step in the right direction, particularly in so far as it can impede modernisation programmes and help to facilitate and compel the elimination of nuclear weapons.'

1. Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, “Status of World Nuclear Forces,” Federation of American Scientists, retrieved 15 April 2017,
+ https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces.
2. For details on the environmental and humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, please see 'Unspeakable suffering: the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons,' Reaching Critical Will of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, 2012, http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Publications/Unspeakable/Unspeakable.pdf.
3. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is not included in this study.
4. See http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/disarmament-fora/nuclear-weapon-ban for details.
5. Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion of 8 July 1996, International Court of Justice, 105(2)F

"Reaching Critical Will is the disarmament programme of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), the oldest women’s peace organization in the world. Reaching Critical Will works for disarmament and arms control of many different weapon systems, the reduction of global military spending and militarism, and the investigation of gendered aspects of the impact of weapons and of disarmament processes."

+ Reaching Critical Will - Ban Nuclear Weapons (2017):
+ http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/

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