World Meets to Prevent Nuclear War: US Media Could Care Less
May 5, 2015
Reaching Critical Will and Article 3 & Minister Counselor Maritza Chan / The Nation of Costa Rica
Other weapons of mass destruction -- including biological and chemical weapons -- are prohibited and subject to elimination processes through international legal instruments. It is past time that nuclear weapons are put on the same legal footing. But, 45 years after the founding of the NPT, the annual expenditure on nuclear weapons is estimated at $105 billion while the budget for the UN Office for Disarmament is only $10 million. It is clear where the priorities of the UN's nuclear-armed nations lie.
NOTE: The 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is meeting in New York from April 27 to May 2, 2015. The abolition of nuclear weapons is one of the most important campaigns facing the world's nations -- even more potentially devastating to the planet as Climate Change. With the attention of more than 100 nations focused on the meetings in Manhattan, the US media refuses to cover this critically important story.
Thanks to Reaching Critical Will, daily coverage of the proceedings are available at NPT News in Review along with other primary documentation. For background on the most important issues at this year's meeting, check out our 2015 NPT Briefing Book, our final edition of the 2010 NPT Action Plan Monitoring Report, and our latest update on nuclear weapon modernisation programmes.
Filling the Legal Gap
For the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Reaching Critical Will and Article 36
(May 4, 2015) -- The "legal gap" regarding prohibition and elimination arises from various deficits in the regulation of activities involving nuclear weapons, as currently codified. The key "legal gap" that needs to be filled is the explicit prohibition of nuclear weapons and establishment of a framework for their elimination.
A treaty banning nuclear weapons, by categorically prohibiting nuclear weapons and establishing a framework and impetus for their elimination, would help to fill these gaps. The other weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons, are prohibited and subject to elimination processes through international legal instruments. It is past time that nuclear weapons are put on the same legal footing.
At the December 2014 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact on Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria made a pledge calling on "all states parties to the NPT to renew their commitment to Article VI [of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)], and to this end, to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons."
The key "legal gap" that needs to be filled is the explicit prohibition of nuclear weapons and establishment of a framework for their elimination. The other weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical weapons, are prohibited and subject to elimination processes through international legal instruments.
It is past time that nuclear weapons are put on the same legal footing. The "legal gap" regarding prohibition and elimination arises from various deficits in the regulation of activities involving nuclear weapons, as currently codified.
This includes legal deficits regarding the development, production, testing, transfer, acquisition, transit, stockpiling, deployment, threat of use or use of nuclear weapons, as well as assistance, financing, encouragement, or inducement of these activities.
The current international legal regulation of nuclear weapons is fragmentary, with several instruments covering only certain areas or activities. The legal gap also arises because the rules in the existing instruments on nuclear weapons apply to different states in different ways. Thus what is needed is a comprehensive instrument that prohibits all activities involving nuclear weapons in all circumstances for all states parties. . . .
A treaty banning nuclear weapons, by categorically prohibiting nuclear weapons and establishing a framework and impetus for their elimination, would help to fill these gaps. Such a treaty would build on existing norms and reinforce existing legal instruments, but it would also close loopholes in the current legal regime that enable states to engage in nuclear weapon activities or otherwise to claim perceived benefit from their continued possession and deployment while purporting to promote their elimination.
The negotiation of a treaty banning nuclear weapons should fill the legal gap regarding the prohibition of nuclear weapons by providing clear common obligations with respect to the issues outlined in the chart. Whilst some aspects of the current legal framework are to be applauded, the overall patchwork of partial regulation hampers development of a clear normative recognition that nuclear weapons are unacceptable.
In doing so, it facilitates retention of these weapons by certain states, which may in turn incentivize proliferation. History shows that legal prohibitions of weapon systems -- their possession as well as their use -- facilitate their elimination.
Weapons that have been outlawed increasingly become seen as illegitimate. They lose their political status and, along with it, the money and resources for their production, modernisation, proliferation, and perpetuation.
Even if nuclear-armed states do not join initially, a treaty banning nuclear weapons would have a significant normative and practical impact. States should commence negotiations in 2015 on a treaty banning nuclear weapons as an effective measure for nuclear disarmament.
At a time when the nuclear-armed states continue to demonstrate their lack of commitment to pursuing tangible, good faith nuclear disarmament, as international tensions rise, and as the potential for accidents persists, banning nuclear weapons is an urgent necessity.
Costa Rica's 'Remarkable' NPT Statement
Minister Counselor Maritza Chan / The Nation of Costa Rica
NEW YORK CITY (May 4, 2015) -- Mr. President:
Costa Rica is honored to see a representative of Latin America, an Ambassador with your credentials, chairing this Committee. You can count on the full support of my delegation in your endeavors.
Five years after the adoption of the NPT Action Plan in 2010, compliance with commitments related to nuclear disarmament lags far behind those connected to non-proliferation or the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Yet during the same five years, new evidence and international discussions have emphasized the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and the unacceptable risks of such use, either by design or accident.
Thus, the NPT’s full implementation, particularly regarding nuclear disarmament, is as urgent and imperative as ever. In spite of this urgency, we have heard some States, including the Nuclear-Weapon States say the current security environment is not conducive to nuclear disarmament, and that we only need to adjust the Plan of Action we agreed to in 2010 to have a successful Review Conference. We need more.
We need concrete, time‐bound commitments on nuclear disarmament. This Review Conference must be a genuine turning point. Over the years, there have been proposals and suggested steps to make progress on nuclear disarmament.
We have banned nuclear testing, though the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) still has not entered into force.
We have tried to ban the production of fissile materials, but we can’t get negotiations started at the Conference on Disarmament, which has been paralyzed for many years.
We have encouraged transparency around arsenals, verification of reductions by the International Atomic Agency (IAEA), and cessation of modernization programs. However, reliance on bilateral and unilateral verification processes remain the norm, and the majority of nuclear weapon reductions has been with non-operational warheads or warheads in storage.
When we compare the annual expenditure on nuclear weapons, which is estimated at $US 105 billion to UN Office for Disarmament annual budget of only $10 million, it is very clear where the priorities lay after 45 years of the NPT.
These are all very important steps and goals for some States, but not for all. We have failed to get to the crux of the issue, and thus Costa Rica calls on nuclear weapon States to honor their unequivocal undertaking to disarm under Article VI of the NPT. Compliance with Article VI of the NPT is not conditional or optional. It is mandatory.
The 2015 Review Conference is an opportunity to deliver on nuclear disarmament. If we need motivation, we need only look to the renewed momentum and investigation of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.
Five years ago, the 2010 Outcome document expressed "deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons."
Since then, three conferences have been held to examine these consequences in Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna. We gathered to hear evidence about the effects of nuclear weapons use and testing on human health and the environment. We listened to testimonies from survivors.
We listened the cold hard truth from relief agencies that they would not be able to provide effective relief. And we listened about the risks of accidental or intentional use.
At the third of these conferences in Vienna, the factual Chair’s summary found that the risk of a nuclear weapon explosion either by accident or intention is unacceptable and increasing over time. It found that the infamous and outdated paradigm of nuclear deterrence entails preparing for nuclear war; even at the same time as the nuclear weapon States say the point is to never use these weapons.
It found, as the other conferences did, that the capacity to respond to a nuclear weapon explosion is unlikely ever to exist and that prevention -- through elimination -- is the only guarantee. And finally, perhaps most importantly for our purposes here, it found that a comprehensive legal standard universally prohibiting nuclear weapons is currently missing.
Democracy has come to nuclear disarmament. Costa Rica has endorsed the Austrian Pledge, which recognizes that there is a legal deficit around nuclear weapons and ask to pursue their prohibition and elimination.
Regionally, the Heads of State and Government of the 33 Members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, CELAC, have also endorsed this Pledge at the CELAC Summit held in Belen, Costa Rica, in January 2015.
We call on all States to endorse the Austrian Pledge without delay. We are therefore compelled to come to the NPT Review Conference today and call for concrete action on the implementation of Article VI.
We believe that a process of change involves stigmatising nuclear weapons. We believe that this process requires a legally binding international instrument that clearly prohibits nuclear weapons based on their unacceptable consequences. Such a treaty would put nuclear weapons on the same footing as the other weapons of mass destruction, which are subject to prohibition through specific treaties.
A treaty banning nuclear weapons would build on existing norms and reinforce existing legal instruments, including the NPT, but it would also close loopholes in the current legal regime that enable States to engage in nuclear weapon activities or to claim perceived benefit from the continued existence of nuclear weapons.
Costa Rica is convinced that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is the only guarantee against the use, or threat of use, of such weapons by States or non-State actors. We cannot simply accept an extension of the 2010 Action Plan as a basis of future work, nor to continue with a step-by-step approach. The bar needs to be higher.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, Costa Rica strongly believes that this Review Conference must incorporate the findings and evidence of the three international conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons in its outcome document.
My country, along with 159 States who have already joined the humanitarian initiative, consider the inclusion of these findings and evidence as a red-line. We also call upon to continue the series of international conferences on the humanitarian consequences, which have elevated the humanitarian imperative for nuclear abolition.
I thank you.
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.
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