U.S. Violating Treaty Obligations in Attacking Nuclear Weapons Ban
The New York Times reports: “United States and Allies Protest U.N. Talks to Ban Nuclear Weapons.” U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley stated yesterday that she is rejecting talks toward eliminating nuclear weapons because: “First and foremost, I’m a mom. … Is there anyone who believes North Korea would agree to a ban on nuclear weapons?” In fact, North Korea voted for the effort; see below.
IRA HELFAND, MD, ihelfand [at] igc.org, @IPPNW
Helfand is past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and is currently co-president of that group’s global federation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. He said today: “The stunt that the U.S. delegation staged to draw attention to their boycotting the talks highlights that it and other nuclear states are not going to fulfill their obligations to eliminate their nuclear weapons arsenals under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unless they are compelled to do so.
“The central contention of Amb. Haley’s remarks that nuclear weapons make us safe is a fundamentally flawed view. These weapons are the greatest threat to all people, including the citizens of the nuclear weapons states. Her statement betrayed a total disregard for the catastrophic humanitarian consequence of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons states maintain their stockpiles to project power, but you have to ask the question: what foreign policy objectives are worth the horrific risks?”
GREG MELLO, gmello [at] lasg.org, @trishabq
Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group and is a leading expert on nuclear policy. His group released a statement that the negotiations at the U.N. to “ban the possession, development, and use of nuclear weapons, [were] pursuant to a mandate passed by a wide margin in the General Assembly late last year. (Proceedings should be webcast at U.N. TV. Live updates are available here. The Twitter hashtag for ban proceedings is #nuclearban.)
“About two-thirds of the world’s countries are expected to participate in the four-week process, which will proceed from general statements this week, to a draft text sometime in the spring, to final negotiations over a three-week period in late June and early July.
“The United States and other nuclear weapon states are boycotting these negotiations as are all NATO states with the exception of the Netherlands. Australia, South Korea, and Japan will also be absent. …
“The U.S. boycott was announced last October by the Obama administration in a last-ditch attempt to prevent passage of a negotiating mandate, which was adopted despite this and other nuclear weapon-state opposition by the First Committee by a vote of 123 to 38, with 16 abstentions. Notably, North Korea voted to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban, and China abstained.
“The negotiations … are the culmination of a multi-year process principally led by a dozen or so states, the Red Cross, and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a network of over 400 non-governmental organizations in 90 countries.”
Added Mello: “It is a moment of high drama in disarmament affairs. For the U.N. to mandate negotiations to ban nuclear weapons — a process being led by non-nuclear states — is unprecedented. We believe it is the most significant development in nuclear disarmament since the end of the Cold War.
“Likewise unprecedented is the conspicuous boycott and protest by the U.S. and its allies of a major U.N. disarmament meeting. It is a flagrant violation of the U.S. obligation under Article VI of the NPT to negotiate nuclear disarmament and to do so ‘in good faith.’ It will damage the NPT and U.S. non-proliferation efforts.
“The resolution establishing these negotiations rejects nuclear deterrence entirely on both moral and legal grounds. It would immediately lower the political and military credibility of nuclear threats. It would lower the status and legitimacy of nuclear weapons, even within nuclear states. Its efficacy would develop further over time, by means which nuclear states cannot fully control.
“These negotiations are the product of the rising multipolar world. More than the legitimacy and status of nuclear weapons is in play. The nuclear ban process is also about initiative and leadership in world affairs — who can have them and who cannot. The ban process is in part about who can decide whether nuclear weapons are legitimate.
“Despite the shameful efforts of the Obama and now the Trump administration to impede the ban process, momentum toward a ban is strong. Will 2017 be the year nuclear weapons are banned? Quite possibly so.
“Diplomats from countries without nuclear weapons and alliances are reasserting civilizational values in a dark time. We look forward to a successful conclusion to these negotiations, and to the process of implementation.”
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes 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, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”