News Release

Nobel Peace Prize: Threats to Nuclear Ban Treaty

The Guardian reports: “The destruction of humankind is one ‘impulsive tantrum away,’ the Australian-founded winner of the Nobel peace prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, warned overnight on Sunday as the United States and North Korea exchange threats over Pyongyang’s nuclear testing regime.

“‘Will it be the end of nuclear weapons, or will it be the end of us?’ the ICAN head, Beatrice Fihn, said in Oslo after receiving the peace prize on behalf of the anti-nuclear [weapons] group.”

GREG MELLO, gmello @ lasg.org, @TrishABQ
Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group. He said today: “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a truly historic achievement and well deserves this weekend’s Nobel Peace Prize.

“ICAN’s superb citizen diplomats, drawn from civil society in every part of the world, has done outstanding work. The work was led by a tiny staff and core leadership team whose constant professionalism quickly won — and kept — the trust of all parties involved. It was and still is a global partnership of diplomats and civil society, of young activists and seasoned oldsters. The clarity of ICAN’s mission, and the humility of its approach, succeeded where so many others had failed.

“It is the first true multilateral nuclear disarmament treaty ever successfully negotiated. All prior multilateral nuclear treaties aim at preventing proliferation, leaving current arsenals untouched.

“The Treaty prohibits developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, stockpiling and deploying nuclear weapons, transferring or receiving them from others, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, allowing any stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons on national territories of signatories, and assisting, encouraging, or inducing any of these prohibited acts. The Treaty requires each signatory state to develop ‘legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress’ these prohibited activities.

“The Treaty will enter in force 90 days after at least 50 countries have ratified it. The Treaty can be amended at regular or extraordinary meetings of signatories by a two-thirds majority.

“Recognition by the Nobel Committee is wonderful, and the financial award is very useful. Much has been achieved; we know the hard part still lies ahead. The new Treaty is not yet in force, and nuclear weapon states are putting pressure on countries not to sign. Even within the ICAN coalition there is some excessive optimism as to what the Treaty can achieve within current security structures. Make no mistake, nuclear abolition will entail deep challenges to current conceptions of security and world order. These challenges are already upon us.

“With fame comes danger. Many parties want to bask in this moment of glory and to ‘help’ — meaning, to tame — ICAN by subverting the meaning of our joint achievement, to subtly neuter disarmament activism by guiding it in directions that conform to the security prerogatives of nuclear weapon states. Prestige and funding will be on offer to achieve this ‘domestication.’ ICAN must remain as vigilant as it is energetic, faithful to its core insight that possession of nuclear weapons, and threats with them — including, I would say, participating in military alliances that threaten nuclear use — can never be justified.”