The Netherlands and India: On the Path to a Nuclear-free World

November 20th, 2013 - by admin

Susi Snyder / IKV Pax Christi & Sundaram / Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace – 2013-11-20 01:18:48

Special to Environmentalists Against War

Stupid or Safe
Video by ICAN

Netherlands Now on an Unstoppable
Path towards Denuclearization

Susi Snyder / IKV Pax Christi

UTRECHT (November 19, 2013) – — IKV Pax Christi reports the Netherlands now on an unstoppable path towards denuclearization. A motion has been adopted by the Dutch Parliament to end the nuclear task of the Netherlands by 2023.

A motion proposed by member of parliament Van Dijk (SP) was adopted in which the Parliament agreed that the successor to the F-16 fighter jet may not have a nuclear task.

Krista van Velzen, nuclear disarmament campaigner at IKV Pax Christi said: “Now the Joint Strike Fighter may not be used to carry and deploy nuclear weapons. This means that within the next 10 years, when the last F-16 has been replaced, the Netherlands will have no alternative to bid farewell to the American weapons of mass destruction now stationed at Volkel”.

Jan Gruiters, general director at IKV Pax Christi said “This is an historical development of which the Netherlands can be proud. Of course, Foreign Minister Timmermans doesn’t have to wait another decade to denuclearize the Netherlands. He can decide now to negotiate the return of these nuclear weapons directly with the US”.

In December 2012, the Parliament passed a motion rejecting the modernisation of the B61 bombs. Van Velzen said “No nuclear weapons and no planes to carry them means a final farewell to the Netherlands nuclear task in NATO.”

In February 2014, more than 100 countries are expected to meet in Mexico to continue discussions about the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons. The Netherlands is expected to participate as well.

IKV Pax Christi hopes that the resolution adopted today also provides space for the Dutch government to advocate for negotiations on an international treaty banning nuclear weapons and to participate constructively in that process.

For questions, contact Krista van Velzen, +31 6 532 20409 or

IKV Pax Christi
PO Box 19318, 3501 DH Utrecht, The Netherlands

Tel + 31 (0)30 233 33 46. Fax + 31 (0)30 236 81 99. Mob + 31 (0)6 489 814 92

Abolition Nuclear Weapons: Some Updates from India
Sundaram / Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace

NEW DELHI (November 19, 2013) – — Please see [below] the rapporteur’s report of the conference that we organised here in New Delhi earlier this month on “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: Relevance for South Asia and the World.”

The conference went off very well really well yesterday and was quite well attended: a lot of students, besides civil society activists who used to keep away from nuclear matters, but have rekindled interest in them and of course 3 major political parties (centrist/ruling party — Congress, and the two main Left parties). Most speakers spoke well, and the discussion was pretty good too.

A surprise visitor/participant was Rakesh Sood, PM’s special envoy on disarmament and non-proliferation, whom Mani brought in. His intervention served to highlight the government’s reluctance to go beyond a conservative, tokenist approach to the issue.

Towards the end of the conference, we also discussed with students and activist groups about the follow-up. We would soon have a smaller meeting with these people and discuss about taking ahead the humanitarian focus through various means and a students’ camp on nuclear issues.

In another welcome development, the organisers of the upcoming Indian Social Science Congress (Dec 27-31, 2013) have asked me to convene a full-day symposium on ‘Creating A Nuclear Free World’ independently, inside the social science congress. I am requesting college/university students with whom we have been working to prepare and present papers.

We have also requested some peace activist to come and speak. I wish to make the event more lively and interaction-oriented. I will myself present a paper on banning nuclear weapons. We would also have more campaign material published and translated by then for distribution.

Here is the latest issue of the CNDP Bulletin, focusing on humantiarian consequences of nuclear weapons and abolition:

With warm regards and solidarity,
Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, India

Conference Report — Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: Relevance for South Asia and the World
Sundaram / Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace

(November 11, 2013) — Part 1: Video Recording from the Conference on “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: Relevance for South Asia and the World” organised by the coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace(CNDP) in collaboration with the International Campaign for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons(ICAN)

Report of the Conference on “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: Relevance for South Asia and the World” organised by the coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP)
Compiled by Bhavana Mahajan and Priya Sharma

(November 19, 2013) —
Conference Notes: Session 1
Date: 8th November 2013
Venue: India International Centre, New Delhi

Chair: Praful Bidwai

Tilman Ruff, International Campaign for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons
Amarjeet Kaur, National Secretary, CPI
Siddharth Mallavarapu, South Asian University
Mani Shankar Aiyar, MP Rajya Sabha
Rakesh Sood, India’s Special Envoy on Disarmament to United Nations

The Session started with Mr. Bidwai welcoming participants to the first such gathering and kicked off with Mr. Tilman’s talk who connected with the group virtually

The key points of Mr. Tilman’s discussion:
In the current state of affairs, the danger is that Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) have, despite making the right moves, not really managed to do anything to diminish the threat. Despite the scale and potential of destruction that nuclear weapons present, they are not subject to any formal international legal treaty — this is an anomaly

The commitment of a large number of states has stigmatized, prohibited and limited nuclear weapons and without the active assertions of nuclear weapon states too the process of abolishing these weapons can be initiated by shifting our focus to companies that are involved in the production of nuclear weapons.

LIC, for example, invests almost USD 2.7 billion in these companies. The other major investors from India include Tata and L&T Emphasizing the humanitarian aspect The commitment of a large number of states to commit to a timeline is in place. Thus while NWS are neglecting the issue, there is need to up the moral ante for the public

Ms. Amarjeet Kaur began with the assertion that all arms are bad and all wars are bad. Her talk focused on: the unnecessary cost of armament and how it eats into resources that can otherwise be deployed for human development gains. The bomb itself is merely a demonstration of power and not a military need especially in the post-cold war era.

Thus to that extent, nuclear weapons are instruments of blackmail and hegemony and should be condemned as such. There is a need for public mobilization and emotive resonance (empathy and anguish) so that the debate gets broad-based and coopts a larger number to take a stand against the existence of nuclear weapons.

Prof. Siddharth focused on the role of international law and positions of various countries on nuclear weapons and their respective nuclear weapons programmes and focused his attention on the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion of 1996. Many would dismiss international law in a world dominated by Nuclear weapon States (NWS) who are also the major powers but even Morgenthau noted that international law has a certain potency. Law can be an ally of the weak. In their submissions to the ICJ, states invoke the ideas of self-defence and sovereignty. And clearly there is a North-South divide even on the nuclear question.

Interesting to note that there was a categorical legality of nuclear weapons’ use right upto 1996 i.e. the belief that nuclear weapons are smart weapons and will not cause more damage than envisaged. He also mentioned the Shimoda judgement (which had noted that found that “the attacks upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused such severe and indiscriminate suffering that they did violate the most basic legal principles governing the conduct of war”)

Talking about the Indian position, he highlighted that there had been a consistent strand on the intrinsic illegality of nuclear weapons.

He also spoke about the existence of epistemological bodies such as ILANA (International Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms) and how there is a universalization of basic accepted principles.

He concluded by saying that nuclear was now a political and not a legal question and law could be an ally. Support of “appreciable section of the international community” already in place. There is already enough customary law and do we really need a binding law. Question is beyond merely one of jurisdiction

Mr. Bidwai then spoke about the indiscriminate potency (countervalue) and the massive scale of the nuclear threat (according to some estimates, 2 million people can be killed in one strike!)

Clearly this violates the principle of proportionality and is augmented by the fact of irreversible damage (radiation effects on survivors and unborn, effect on the natural environment). He concluded by saying that slavery and apartheid ended because the world was horrified and rallied in solidarity. There is now a need to generate similar moral pressure on the nuclear question.

Mr. Aiyar then spoke about India being really sincere about nuclear disarmament leading to general and complete disarmament. Five critical elements of nuclear disarmament continued to remain valid in the revisiting of the Rajiv Gandhi Action Plan in October 2010:

Disarmament to be universal
Disarmament to be time-bound
Disarmament to be non-discriminatory
Disarmament to be phased
Disarmament to be verifiable

All of these are necessary steps and each is linked to the eventual goal of disarmament and sustaining it

Disarmament is thus not an end in itself but a link in the chain that leads to what Gandhi had conceived as a “nonviolent world order”. Rajiv Gandhi had noted that the world cannot be divided into NWS and NNWS and there is a 3rd category called the threshold nuclear powers. As a result, there existed the need of “capping, reducing and diminishing nuclear weapons”. Instead however, we had an escalation.

In 1988, the two superpowers had between them the capability of destroying the world 51 times over. In the India-Pakistan context, we have weapons we cant really use due to geographic proximity. He noted that while there was a great deal of awareness of what a nuclear war would mean in the West — public opinion as well as policymakers — a similar threat perception is clearly missing in the subcontinent. There is thus a need to educate the public and build awareness.

India now has the unique tag of being the only nuclear state that believes its own security will be enhanced in a world free of nuclear weapons.

Mr. Sood spoke about the common thread between 1988 (the original committee was set up then) and 1998 (Pokharan II) rests in the fact that India continues to believe that its security will be better secured in a disarmed world. We were the first country in the world to call for a ban on testing.’

Global no-first use can be converted into a global non-use doctrine.
Then de-alerting
And finally, de-legitimization

Notable interventions included those by Achin Vanaik, Vidya Shankar Aiyar among others. In partuclar, people questioned Ambassador Rakesh Sood on the justification for 1998 tests and India’s abandoning of the disarmament agenda.

(November 11, 2013) — Paer 2: Video Recording from the Conference on “Abolishing Nuclear Weapons: Relevance for South Asia and the World” organised by the coalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace(CNDP) in collaboration with the International Campaign for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons(ICAN)

Plenary II
Chair: Seema Mustafa, Centre for Policy Analysis

Prakash Karat, General Secretary, Communist party of India(Marxist)
Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan
Manoranjan Mohanty, Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy
Achin Vanaik, Political Scientist & Founder Member of CNDP
Jean Dreze, G B Pant Institute, Allahabad

The Second Session started with a brief summary of the discussion initiated in the preceding session by Professor Prafulla Bidwai. The second session of the Conference was then officially opened by the Chairwith the address by the first speaker of the session Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty.
In the Chair — Seema Mustafa

Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty
The first speaker of the session was Professor Manoranjan Mohanty. Marveling at the timing of the Conference for the India-Pakistan Forum is celebrating 20 years of its existence, he said that the disarmament and de-nuclearisation movement holds good for two basic reasons. The first of these is that the need for nuclearisation was legitimized by projecting the Cold War as a reason, but the continuation in nuclearisation post Cold War has only busted this position. The second, very immediate reason is the State’s growing repressive policies and militarization of Asia as a result of nuclearisation.

Calling the new peace principle suggested by the Prime Minister of the country as only a ‘Panchnama’ opposed to the Nehru’s principle of Panchsheel, he said that the new policy principle is a complete breakaway from the Constitution and the ideals that guided the freedom struggle in the country.

Hailing the India-Pakistan Forum as a democratic peace initiative, he firmly held that peace, equity and sustainability are the foundation stones and also the aim of democracy which should be participatory in nature and form. Therefore, militaristic development should be opposed and an over-hauling of the development paradigm should be called for.

Aruna Roy
She seemed to lay an emphasis on making the discourse on non-nuclearisation more common people-centric and inclusive. The need of the hour is to refashion the discourse in such a way that it is broken down to small fragments which is easier for people to understand and be identified with. Advocating the usage of stories and narrations in establishing a ‘connection’ with the people, she emphasized that the language and idiom of the protest and movement has to change.

The Kudankulam protest movement for this very reason remains very important for it has made people, for whom it was a non-issue, realize that soon there will be left no more place in India which will not have to bear the brunt of nuclearisation.

Another factor that needs to be focused when a discourse on non-nuclearisation is initiated is the fact that the fight for the rights of women has a very close relationship with the former. There exists a fundamental link between violence against women and a violent world where the promotion of individual ‘nation-states’ would only lead to more violence.

This violence is to be seen in a broader perspective where the ‘nation-states’ would particularly turn into belligerent nations. Also stressing the need for transparency, she emphasized on the need for a mass filing of RTIs at the same time on a similar issue as a way to get people involved for many controversial bills passed by the Parliament in the recent past have been kept away from the purview of the people. ‘Unity’ is the key to make an impact in the long run.

Professor Jean Dreze
Starting with Karl Marx’s “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce,” he added that in the case of nuclearisation, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as catastrophe.”

War has become a thing of the past. Calculating on the strategies and destruction of the war, even the Game theorists find themselves in a fix to suggest a particular course of action. The situation in the real world is that of the escalation bid where a nation, in order to outdo the other, lands up in excesses. Hailing Rabindra Nath Tagore’s vision that scientific advancement should always confirm to moralistic position, he said that the need for such a position is much more significant today in the wake of a large number of countries turning to the nuclear way.

Prakash Karat
Outlining the history of nuclearisation, he blamed the United States for much of blind arms race that has engulfed the world today. He said that the United States believes in counter-force which is evident in its ceasing to be a member of the ABM. It is constantly working its way to remain such a nuclear empowered nation, which can opt to enter a nuclear war without much damage to itself. Therefore, in order to counter this it is essential to move towards an international convention for disarmament.

This situation in South Asia is grim. We have here, what Karat called ‘Terrible Twins’ — India and Pakistan. Both of them are moving towards an inexorable arms race. Evident through the last official foreign visit of the Indian Prime Minister to the United States, where out of the finalized agreements, “the substantial one is only in the field of defence.” Hence, the need of the hour is to forge peace through constant dialogues even in the face of infiltration in the Indian soil. The stress should be to avoid a ‘rocky relationship’ between the two.

Professor Achin Vanaik
Calling for a combined and unified effort, he said that better arguments have hardly been successful in bringing about a change in the policies. It is only the change in the forces. It was a large pool of the activists derived from the largely middle-classes in the developed nations that achieved substantially in pressurising the governments to reduce their arms starting from START I and II.

The failure in India was that a ‘connect’ was never sought to be established between and amongst the different movements that may not have had explicit nuclear connection. The point is that we have to oppose militarisation and not just nuclearisation because both of these is morally wrong as well as from the point of view of development.

To overcome these two maladies there are two ways — The Insider Route and the Outsider Route. The Insider Route follows a way of appeal to the policy makers from the national interest point of view, whereas the Outsider Route seeks to make people angry about the nuclear developments on the moral grounds. Only a harmonious working of the two in dependence of each other can achieve complete de-nuclearisation.

The debate should focus on the moral dimension of de-nuclearisation vis-à-vis the hypocrisy of nuclearisation. Being a de-facto nuclear country, it is unfortunate that India is ready to be a signatory to the nuclear-free zones in areas other than South-Asia. Even when it comes to no-first use policy our hypocrisy stands no ground.

The Chinese no-first use is superior in that sense for it proclaims that it can use it in their own land too (eg. Taiwan). In India, on the other hand, the provisions are to use the nuclear weapons against countries that use non-nuclear weapons of equal capacity as well as on those that are ‘allied’ to nuclear countries.

India should lead the race for disarmament. This will alleviate the regime of fear in South Asia because after the Indo-US Nuclear deal, India has more capability to add to the stock-pile of nuclear weapons vis-à-vis Pakistan. This has also made the neighbours like Bangladesh and Nepal anxious.

In order to initiate a discourse in the civil society at the regional level three measures can be taken — first, India and Pakistan could pursue a bilateral confidence-building measure, second, bilaterally they could agree to a nuclear-free zone between themselves and third, the use of Kashmir by both the governments as ‘nuclear flashpoint’ should stop. If the region has to see any peace, it should actively strive to strike a balance and push for the insider route.

The session was, after the last speaker, opened for questions and discussions after a brief address by the Chair — Seema Mustafa — Media has become a part of the ruling elite. War mongering has become a part of the media ethics. War and talking of the same has become fashionable. One needs to abhor such morally degraded practices.

A few observations made by the speakers and participants:

Mr. Vidya Shankar Aiyar — All the arguments should boil down to the fundamental argument of the moral position on the issue for this alone stands as validated.

Prof. Praful Bidwai — Space programme is the cousin of the militarization programme which has only led to neglect of the basic sciences. 70% of the science budget of the government is swallowed up by the military programme.

Prof. Achin Vanaik — Nuclear weapons are the ultimate manifestation of military power and there exists a disjuncture between political and military power. The size and history of the hostility of a country does not decide for the country to go for disarmament. Nuclearisation is nothing but undue power projection which only leads to unstable regimes.