Don’t Even THINK about Starting a Nuclear War
On January 3, the five nuclear weapon States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States released a joint statement which affirmed that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought‘.
Looks good? In reality, and in direct contrast to this joint statement, these nuclear weapons states are threatening each other and the world with their nuclear weapons, making provocative statements and military threats, maintaining options to launch a nuclear war (first-use of nuclear weapons) in their conflicts, and renewing the nuclear arms race with over $100 billion per year now spent on producing and deploying nuclear weapons.
Abolition 2000, the global civil society network for the elimination of nuclear weapons, has compared this hypocrisy to Newspeak from the novel 1984:
“In George Orwell’s novel, 1984, Newspeak words/phrases were created by the government to placate the public and disguise the reality which was often the opposite of those words/phrases. It is well past time for the five NPT Nuclear-Weapon States to stop issuing Orwellian ‘nuke-speak’ statements and commence negotiations in good faith on elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”
— Abolition 2000 statement in response to the January 3 joint statement by the Nuclear weapon States.
ACTION: Add Your Voice:
From Nuclear Threats to Human Security
We encourage you to endorse Fulfil the NPT: From nuclear threats to human security, if you have not already done so. This Open Letter to the nuclear weapons States and other Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) reminds them that they have a legal (and moral) obligation under the NPT to step back from nuclear war and pursue nuclear disarmament in good faith – and that this would be good for everyone’s security. For more background, please see Dear Nuclear Powers: Don’t Even THINK about Starting a Nuclear War).
The Open Letter calls specifically on them to:
- End the nuclear arms race by permanently ceasing the manufacture of nuclear weapons;
- Phase out the role of nuclear weapons in security policies starting with no-first-use policies;
- Commit to a timeframe for the global elimination of nuclear weapons;
- Shift budgets and public investments from the nuclear weapons industry to instead support public health, climate stabilization and sustainable development.
Over 900 political, military and religious leaders, as well as legislators, academics, scientists, business leaders, youth, lawyers, Nobel Laureates and other representatives of civil society have already endorsed the Open Letter. (See below for a sample of these)
ACTION: Your endorsement could help strengthen the impact of the letter.
Who Would Choose to Use the Atom Bomb?
“Destruction of a section of humanity and a part of our planet is the most diabolical and inhumane act that humankind can ever visualise. A nation, a country or person on behalf of that nation or country that takes the initiative to use the Atom Bomb can never justify such an act of sheer satanic vengeance. It is totally against the teachings of all our scriptures and our deep sense of propriety.“
— Ela Gandhi, Gandhi Development Trust/Phoenix Settlement Trust; Honorary Co-President of Religions for Peace. Granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. Endorser of the Open Letter.
January 24: Open Letter Will Be Presented to the Nuclear States
The letter will be sent to the nuclear-weapon-states, other States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), President of the 10th NPT Review Conference, and media on January 24. This is the anniversary of the very first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted by consensus, wihch established the goal of the global elimination of nuclear weapons.
January 24 also comes five days after a global event on Nuclear disarmament and human security, organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (178 member parliaments), Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Geneva Centre for Security Policy and World Future Council.
And it comes four days after the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists resets the Doomsday Clock, indicating the level of threats to civilisation from nuclear weapons, climate change and other existential risks.
The Positive Power of No-First-Use
“If a pledge of NFU of nuclear weapons is accepted by all nuclear weapons states it can produce a revolutionary turn initially leading to the erosion of nuclear weapons and finally to the complete elimination of such weapons of mass destruction from our planet for the benefits of all its inhabitants and the international security at large.”
— Vladimir P. Kozin, Member of the Russian Academies of Military Sciences and Natural Sciences. Endorser of the Open Letter.
Fulfill the NPT: From Nuclear Threats to Human Security
Dear Representatives of China, France, Russia,
the UK the USA and other States Parties to the NPT,
Nuclear weapons threaten current and future generations. The security they may have provided in the 20th Century has no place in the world of today and tomorrow, which is struggling to address the COVID pandemic, stabilise the climate, resolve national and international conflicts in peaceful ways, protect cyberspace, and advance human security and the sustainable development goals.
It is time to start phasing out the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and develop a practical plan to achieve the peace and security of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
At the Tenth Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT-X) in January 2022, we call on you to:
- Start the process to permanently end arms racing and phase out the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines by supporting the adoption of no-first-use policies and cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons no later than the 11th NPT Review Conference in 2025;
- Commit to a timeframe of no later than 2045 to fulfil the Article VI obligation to achieve the global elimination of nuclear weapons;
- Agree to adopt a concrete plan to implement this commitment, including through the systematic and progressive reduction of nuclear arsenals, at the Conference on Disarmament or the 11th NPT Review Conference;
- Agree to shift budgets and public investments from the nuclear weapons industry to instead support public health, climate stabilization and sustainable development.
The NPT was adopted in 1970 for a fixed timeframe of 25 years, after which it was expected that it would be replaced by a more comprehensive nuclear disarmament regime. This did not happen.
In 1995 the NPT was extended on the basis of three near-term (incremental) commitments — to achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by 1996, to negotiate a fissile materials treaty and to establish additional nuclear-weapon-free zones especially in the Middle East — and a more comprehensive commitment by the nuclear armed States to reduce nuclear weapons in a process leading to their total elimination. Of these, only the CTBT has been negotiated, and it has yet to enter-into-force.
There can be no excuse for not achieving the three incremental commitments in the near future, and the more comprehensive commitment — the global elimination of nuclear weapons — within the next 25 years, if not sooner.
A key measure to reduce the risk of a nuclear war and to start phasing out the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines while maintaining strategic stability, is to commit to never initiate nuclear warfare by adopting no-first-use (or sole purpose) policies and related operational controls.
Options to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict, and preparations to enable such a first-use, escalate tensions and risks, stimulate counter measures such as launch-on-warning, justify nuclear modernisation programs and prevent negotiations on nuclear disarmament. First-use options are literally playing with fire in very combustible situations, and have nearly led to a nuclear war being initiated by mistake or miscalculation.
Unilateral no-first-use declarations, bilateral no-first-use agreements and/or a multilateral no-first-use agreement can reduce these risks. We commend China and India for already adopting unilateral no-first-use policies and we commend China and Russia for adopting a bilateral no-first-use agreement. These can be followed by nuclear force restructuring and operational controls to implement no-first-use policies, and to build credibility and confidence in the policies to further reduce nuclear risks.
And most importantly, the adoption of no-first-use or sole purpose policies could open the door to the nuclear armed states and their allies joining negotiations for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. If nuclear weapons are required to deter against a range of threats — not only nuclear weapons — then countries relying on nuclear deterrence will most likely not agree to eliminate the weapons while these other threats still exist.
However, if the only purpose of a country’s nuclear weapons is to deter against the nuclear weapons of others, then the country can agree to join a verified nuclear disarmament process as long as all other nuclear armed countries participate. For this reason, the States Parties to the NPT also need to engage with the states which are not parties (India, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan) in the nuclear disarmament process.
We thank the governments of China, France, Russia, the UK, USA and other States Parties to the NPT for considering this letter, and we look forward to supporting and engaging with you as you adopt these policies and as we jointly establish the peace and security of a nuclear-weapon-free world.
- Maria Fernanda Espinosa (Ecuador) President of the 73rd UN General Assembly. Former Foreign Minister of Ecuador. Member, Group of Women Leaders for Change and Inclusion;
- Jan Kavan (Czech Republic). President of the 57th UN General Assembly. Former Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic.
- Jane Goodall (UK). Primatologist. UN Messenger for Peace;
- Ambassador Libran Cabactulan (Philippines). Former Philippines Ambassador. President of the 2010 NPT Review Conference;
- Ambassador Thomas Graham (USA), Head of the United States Delegation to the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference;
- General (ret) Bernard Norlain (France). Président, IDN-Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire. Former Air Defense Commander of the French Air Force;
- Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Ireland), Founder of Peace People. 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate;
- Ambassador Rolf Ekéus (Sweden). Chairman emeritus of the Board, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Former Head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission (UNMOVIC);
- Bishop Gunnar Stålsett (Norway). Honorary President, Religions for Peace. Former Vice Chair Nobel Peace Prize Committee;
- Prof. Giorgio Parisi, (Italy). Professor of Physics, University of Rome. Nobel Prize in Physics 2021;
- Kennette Benedict (USA), Senior Adviser, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists;
- Chung-in Moon (Republic of Korea). Vice Chairman, Asia Pacific Leadership Network. Former Special Adviser of National Security and Foreign Affairs to the ROK President;
- Prof. Frank N von Hippel (USA). Professor of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University;
- Karsten D. Voigt (Germany) Former president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly;
- Hon Gareth Evans (Australia). Former Foreign Minister of Australia; Founding Convenor, Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament;
- Commander Robert Forsyth (UK), Retired Royal Navy Nuclear Submarine Commander;
- Prof. Adam Daniel Rotfeld (Poland). Former Foreign Minister of Poland;
- Martin Fleck (USA). Director, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program, Physicians for Social Responsibility;
- Peter Wilk (USA), Administrative Chair. Back from the Brink Coalition;
- Leah Bolger (USA). President, World BEYOND War. Former Naval Commander. Former President of Veterans for Peace;
- Terumi Tanaka (Japan). Nagasaki bomb survivor. Secretary-General, Hidankyo Organisation of Atomic and Hydrogen Bomb Sufferers;
- Dr Hedy Fry MP (Canada). OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Gender;
- Cynthia Lazaroff (USA). Founder, Women Transforming Our Nuclear Legacy;
- Daniel Ellsberg (USA). Whistleblower – The Pentagon Papers. Author, The Doomsday Machine. Right Livelihood Laureate;
- Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas (India). Former Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy;
- Dave Webb (UK), Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament;
- Prof. Sergey Kolesnikov (Russia). Russian Academy of Sciences. Former Co-President of IPPNW and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament;
- Baroness Sue Miller (UK). Vice-Chair, UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-proliferation;
- Prof. Alan Robock (USA). Rutgers University. Former Member, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change;
- Kevin Martin (USA). President, Peace Action USA;
- Dr. Vladimir Kozin (Russian Federation), Member, Russian Academy of Military Sciences;
- Prof. Jürgen Scheffran (Germany). Co-Chair, International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility;
- Uta Zapf (Germany), Former Chair of the German Parliament Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation;
- Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar (Pakistan), Physicist. Former Member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament;
- Jan Hoekema (Netherlands). President, Pugwash Netherlands;
- Adrienne Kinne (USA). President, Veterans For Peace;
- Phon van den Biesen (Netherlands). Co-President, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA);
- Tadashi Inuzuka (Japan). Executive Director, Coalition 3+3 for a nuclear weapon free North East Asia. Former Senator from Nagasaki;
- Carol Gilbert (USA), International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN);
- Ambassador Carlo Trezza (Italy), Former Chair of the UN Conference on Disarmament;
- Ela Gandhi (India). Co-President, Religions for Peace. Grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi;
- Mounir Zahran, (Egypt), Chairman, Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs. Former Egyptian Ambassador to the UN in Geneva.