Britain’s House of Lords Debates Nuclear Risks and Abolition

February 26th, 2018 - by admin

The Basel Peace Office & Alyn Ware / In Depth News & Abolition 2000 – 2018-02-26 00:55:08

UK House of Lords Debate: Nuclear Risks and
The UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament

The Basel Peace Office

BASEL (February 25, 2018) — From May 14-16, the United Nations General Assembly will hold its first ever High-level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament/

This conference has become even more important in light of increased nuclear risks, which led the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists on January 25 to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock to 2 minutes to Midnight.

Basel Peace Office encourages you to contact your parliamentarians [and elected representatives – EAW] and urge them to respond to the growing threats of nuclear conflict by calling on your government to participate in the UN High-Level Conference.

On February 20, the UK House of Lords held a debate on nuclear weapons and the upcoming UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament.

The debate was initiated by Baroness Sue Miller, Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND), who asked ‘that the UK play a constructive part in the forthcoming UN high-level conference on nuclear disarmament.

‘This conference could make all the difference. It could set the scene for immediate steps in changing policy, such as no first use and de-alerting, before moving the agenda on to longer-term issues of a phased programme to reduce nuclear stockpiles.’
— Baroness Miller, UK House of Lords

A number of Peers (members) of the House of Lords spoke in support of the High-Level Conference. This included some Peers who are supportive of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (ban treaty), such as PNND members Baroness Walmsley and Lord Thomas, but also Peers such as Lord Des Browne, former UK Secretary for Defence.

I am suggesting not that the UK signs up to the ban treaty or that the treaty does not have flaws—I accept that it does—but that the reasons given for not engaging with the international community do not stand up to any level of scrutiny, and nor do our repeated statements in support of our alleged commitment to global disarmament.
— Lord Browne of Ladyton (Labour, former Secretary of Defense)

UN High Level Conference Supported by OSCE Parliamentary Assembly
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, (OSCEPA) meeting in Vienna from Feb 22-23, held a session on Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation: challenges and opportunities for the OSCE area. The OSCEPA includes delegations from 56 member parliaments including those of France, Russia, UK, USA and all NATO countries.

PNND Council Member Hedy Fry (Liberal, Canada), made a statement recalling OSCEPA declarations, adopted by all delegations, supporting de-alerting of all nuclear forces and adoption of no-first-use policies, and calling on all OSCE countries to participate in the UN High-Level Conference. See OSCE Parliamentary Assembly calls for nuclear weapons stand-down.

Questions and Debates in Other Parliaments
The Parliamentary Action Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World, released at the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly in St Petersburg last October, recommends that ‘Parliamentarians help ensure a successful HLC (UN High-Level Conference) by encouraging their governments to participate at the highest level, initiating debates and parliamentary resolutions in support, and promoting key measures that could be adopted at the HLC.’

Please encourage your parliamentarians to initiate a debate in parliament, or to ask your government’s intentions with respect to the UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament. Let PNND head office know the results.

Yours sincerely
The Basel Peace Office team

Doomsday Clock Warning Makes UN
High-Level Conference Even More Important

Alyn Ware / InDepthNews

NEW YORK (January 29, 2018) – The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the symbolic Doomsday Clock to 2 Minutes to Midnight, on January 25, indicating that the threat of a nuclear war through accident, miscalculation or intent has risen to an alarming level, and that climate change is not being averted.

The Bulletin highlighted nuclear threats between the US and North Korean governments, including “hyperbolic rhetoric and provocative actions on both sides.” They also lamented “the decline of US leadership and a related demise of diplomacy under the Trump administration”.

The Bulletin expressed deep concern over a range of unresolved conflicts and increased tensions involving all the nuclear-armed countries. And they decried the failure of the international community to roll-back carbon emissions in order to prevent catastrophic climatic consequences of increased atmospheric carbon. (See 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement.)

The Bulletin put forward a number of actions that governments should take to ‘rewind the clock’ and prevent the destruction of civilization from nuclear war or catastrophic climate change. But such actions won’t occur unless there is sufficient political push. This is what makes the upcoming UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament so important.

UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament
Scheduled to take place at the United Nations from May 14-16, 2018 the conference will attract attendance from world leaders of most UN member states. They will be expected to take — or announce — actions to reduce the risks of a nuclear holocaust and to make progress on global nuclear disarmament.

Such actions could include: taking all nuclear weapons off launch-on-warning and high alert; adopting policies never to initiate nuclear war (no-first-use); agreeing not to develop new nuclear weapons systems; removing all forward-based nuclear weapons (such as US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe); commencing negotiations on the phased reduction and elimination of nuclear stockpiles; and reducing nuclear weapons budgets in order to release resources for climate protection and phase-out of fossil fuels.

Such actions have already been laid out in various multilateral forums, such as the UN General Assembly and Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conferences. However, to-date there has been insufficient political will to adopt and implement these measures.

“The UN conference provides an opportunity for the UK and other nuclear-armed States to make progress on incremental disarmament measures to which they agreed in the Non-Proliferation Treaty conferences but have not yet implemented.”
— Baroness Sue Miller, Member of the UK House of Lords and a Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament.

Bridging the Divisions
In 2010, States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — including both nuclear and non-nuclear States — agreed that any use of nuclear weapons would cause catastrophic humanitarian consequences, and that all States should make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.

This agreement should have led to cooperation on a range of nuclear disarmament measures. Unfortunately, the reverse happened. Nuclear-armed States retreated from their commitments, and non-nuclear States advanced without them on other initiatives not agreed in 2010, in particular to negotiate a Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (ban treaty). 122 countries — all nuclear have-nots — adopted the treaty on July 7, 2017.

The division has been exacerbated on the one hand by non-nuclear States alleging that nuclear weapons provide no security role what-so-ever, and on the other hand by the nuclear armed and allied states refusing to reduce or replace nuclear deterrence with other approaches to security.

The UN High Level Conference provides an opportunity to bridge these divisions and enable progress to be made on both strands — the comprehensive, ban treaty strand and the incremental, nuclear risk-reduction strand. (See Food for thought paper on the NPT, Ban Treaty and the 2018 UNHLC.)

Security Council Session
Builds Momentum for the UNHLC

On January 18, the UN Security Council held a special session on Weapons of Mass Destruction and Confidence Building Measures, chaired by Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is a supporter of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and unilaterally relinquished the nuclear weapons they possessed in order to become a nuclear-weapon-free country. However, the Kazakh government realizes that other countries relying on nuclear weapons will need to have confidence in cooperative security mechanisms in order to eliminate this reliance and negotiate comprehensive nuclear disarmament.

President Nazarbayev therefore focused the Security Council session on confidence building measures and cooperative security mechanisms that support nuclear disarmament. (See President Nazarbayev leads UN Security Council Session.) The session also focused on building political traction and commitments for nuclear disarmament through the NPT and the upcoming UN High Level Conference.

A key goal put forward by President Nazarbayev, and supported at the UN Security Council Session, is the goal to achieve the global elimination of nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations. This target challenges the nuclear-reliant countries to make concrete time bound plans to phase out their reliance on nuclear deterrence. Yet it is far enough away to give them a realistic chance to achieve such plans.

A key contribution to the UN Security Council Session was made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who warned that “global anxieties about nuclear weapons are the highest since the Cold War.”

Guterres noted the nuclear threats between North Korea and the USA, but welcomed the “mini-thaw” that has permitted North and South Korea to field a joint team for the coming Winter Olympic Games (February 9-25, 2018).

Guterres also announced that he intends “to explore opportunities to generate a new direction and impetus for the global disarmament agenda.” It is expected that later this year he will launch a major proposal along these lines, similar to, but updating, the 5-point proposal for nuclear disarmament released by the previous Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on UN Day, October 24, 2008.

Political Support for Key Measures
Government leaders attending the UN High-Level Conference in May are expected to elevate their support for nuclear risk reduction measures, as outlined above. Some are already being advanced at the United Nations, including through UN General Assembly resolutions such as those to move the nuclear-armed States to reduce their readiness to use nuclear weapons.

Support is coming from key parliaments and inter-parliamentary bodies. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (which includes the legislatures of the US Russia, France and the UK), has adopted resolutions submitted by members of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND) calling for a lowering of nuclear threat postures, de-alerting and the adoption of policies never to initiate nuclear war (no-first-use).

Initiatives in Nuclear-armed States
In contrast to President Barack Obama who advanced the commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world and took measures to make progress toward this goal, the Trump Administration has reinforced its reliance on nuclear weapons and appears to be walking away from disarmament commitments. This is reflected in the current United States Nuclear Posture Review, a draft of which was leaked by the Huffington Post on January 11.

However, there has been renewed action by the US Congress on key initiatives including by senators in the hearings of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on the President’s authority to unilaterally use nuclear weapons.

In addition, US Senator and PNND Co-President Ed Markey, has introduced legislation into the Senate (with companion legislation in the House introduced by Ted Lieu) to restrict the authority of the US President to launch a nuclear attack without first consulting congress.

Markey has also organized joint congressional letters to the US Secretaries of State, Defense and Energy calling on the current Nuclear Posture Review to include measures to lower nuclear threat postures, reduce the risk of nuclear-weapons-use, and advance the goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons. (See Joint letter to Trump administration on reducing role of nuclear weapons and Joint letter to the Trump administration opposing the production of new destabilizing nuclear weapons.)

In the UK, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is also a leading PNND member, has announced that if he were to become Prime Minister, he would not authorize the use of nuclear weapons.

These actions, along with the increased international awareness of the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, provide openings for the UN High-Level Conference to address, and make progress on, nuclear-risk-reduction measures in order to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

Connection to Climate Change
Up until recently, nuclear disarmament has been the poor second cousin to global action on climate change, with much less public awareness and political traction. What is emerging for the UN High-Level Conference is not only that nuclear risks are as important to address as risks of climate change, but also that the two issues are connected.

Nuclear weapons budgets consume resources required to phase out fossil fuels. In addition, nuclear weapons postures increase tensions between key countries, preventing the cooperation required to achieve global carbon emission targets.

Civil society participating in the UN High-level Conference will make these connections, including through a Move the Nuclear Weapons Money action and campaign, which aim to shift nuclear weapons budgets to climate protection and other social, economic and environmental needs.

Ban Treaty at the UN Conference
Since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is supported only by non-nuclear States, there is no expectation that the nuclear-armed States or those under extended nuclear doctrines, will announce at the UN High Level Conference that they will join the treaty.

However, the UN High Level Conference can provide a forum for non-nuclear States to sign. The treaty is deposited at the United Nations, the same venue as the UN High-Level Conference. 56 countries have signed the treaty so far. It might be possible to have another 30-40 countries signing during the UN High-Level Conference, something which would give greater strength to this new legal document.

Alyn Ware is Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND

Count the Nuclear Weapons Money
In Favor of a Better Use

Abolition 2000

New York City, May 10 – May 16, 2018
A public action in New York during the 2018 United Nations High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament

(February 25, 2018) — During the next ten years about 1 trillion dollars will be spent globally for maintaining, modernizing and upgrading the nuclear arsenals in the nine nuclear countries. This wastes taxpayers’ money on weapons systems which put civilization at risk.

The danger of a nuclear war caused by growing tensions, unforeseen conflicts, irrational decisions or technical accidents is increasing. Those making the weapons and their delivery systems have a vested interest in keeping this risk high, in order to justify the exorbitant nuclear weapons budgets. They are operating in direct opposition to the needs of people and the planet. Count the Nuclear Weapons Money will highlight this irresponsible wastage, and what the funds could instead be directed toward.

Count the Nuclear Weapons Money will physically demonstrate the colossal nuclear weapons budget, and relate this directly to important human, social and ecologic issues that could instead be funded with some, or all, of this money.

The amount of 1 trillion dollars will be publicly counted by hand, note by note. As it is impossible to do this with one trillion 1-dollar-notes (it would take about 19,000 years) we will count one million notes each of $1 million value. The counting process will then take 7 days and nights. Each day will focus on one or two areas of economic, social or environmental need for which the money could better be spent.

As these issues are represented in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015, we will highlight the SDGs, and how a global reduction in nuclear weapons spending could assist in the implementation of SDGs. A key focus will be on funding climate protection and the phase out of fossil fuels in order to prevent excessive climate change – the other existential threat to humanity.

As this action is being undertaken in the USA, we will also highlight how nuclear weapons spending in the USA negatively impacts on federal budgets in areas of social need, and impacts on local communities.

Spending on Nuclear Weapons Is a Theft from People
The $100 billion spent annually on nuclear weapons is a theft from the tax-payers of the USA and other nuclear-armed States, and from the people of the world.

In 1953, USA President General Dwight David Eisenhower noted that:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

His words are particularly true of nuclear weapons, and other weapons of mass destruction, the use of which would indiscriminately kill civilians, wipe out cities, and possibly end civilization as we know it.

Nuclear Weapon States Have
An Obligation to Cut Nuclear Weapons Spending

Under the non-Proliferation Treaty (Article VI), the nuclear armed States are obliged to end the nuclear arms race and negotiate to achieve global nuclear disarmament. Under the UN Charter (Article 26), the Security Council (which includes the main nuclear armed States) has an obligation to develop a plan for disarmament in order to release resources for economic and social need. Count the Nuclear Weapons Money is an action to encourage the nuclear-armed States to implement these obligations.

Where and When
The project shall be realized in front of the UN Headquarters and in other public places in New York during the High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament which takes place 14 to 16 May 2018. To get early attention of the media and the attending heads of states and governments the action shall already start 4 days before the conference begins. As such, the nuclear money will be counted from 10 to 16 May 2018.

The money will be counted into a glass/Perspex container by consecutive teams of two people each hour. On one (or more) of the days we plan for Count the Nuclear Weapons Money transparent container would be next to the knotted gun statue in the UN courtyard just inside the security which would give great visuals and maximum exposure to those visiting the UN (staff, governments, NGOs and tourists).

For some days the container for counting the money will be put on a flat-deck truck and taken to different locations in New York, representing programs of social and economic need that are not being met due to low budgets, whilst billions are being wasted on nuclear weapons.

Who Counts?
The counting teams are a mix of all ages, nations and social levels: celebrities, activists, politicians, UN officials, diplomats, artists, refugees, school kids, representatives of the different SDGs and just normal citizens. Included in the counting teams will be Laureates of the Nobel Prize and Right Livelihood Award (‘Alternative Nobel Peace Prize’).

Worldwide Attention
To get attention worldwide we will create a live stream video so that anyone anywhere can follow the counting process, see what the money instead could be used for and give their own comments. We also plan to employ a public relations company to ensure maximum global media coverage.

Input into the UN High-Level Conference
We will also have representatives registered for the UN High Level Conference, participating in the deliberations, submitting proposals on reducing nuclear weapons spending, and building support from like-minded governments and non-governmental organisations.

Holger Güssefeld: +49 170 526 0593.
Alyn Ware: +420 773 638 867.
Jonathan Granoff: +1 484 620-4967.
Rob van Riet. +44 7707 362-503.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.