Beyond Obama – Priorities towards Nuclear Abolition
Monday, 20th July 2009
Written by Talyn Rahman
In a joint effort before its formal amalgamation, Action for UN Renewal, and World Disarmament Campaign hosted this event based on nuclear disarmament at the House of Parliament, chaired by Lord Peter Archer. With the close arrival of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) summit, talks to assign security measures against NPT non-signatories India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea is fundamental if Obama is to lead his commitments for nuclear abolition.
The event was split into two sessions. The first hosted esteemed speakers:
Lord Peter Archer of Sandwell
Lord Hannay of Chiswick (former President of United Nations Association UK)
Humphrey Hawksley (BBC Foreign Affairs Correspondent)
Rebecca Johnson (Co-founder of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy).
From left-to-right: Lord Hannay, Lord Archer, Vijay Mehta and Humphrey Hawksley
While this report only covers the first session, note that the second session consisted of speakers:
Colin Archer (Secretary General of International Peace Bureau)
Vijay Mehta (Author and Chair of Action for UN Renewal)
Jeremy Corbyn (MP)
Brian Cooper (Co-ordinator of World Disarmament Campaign).
Lord Archer’s opening statement commented on the frightful increase of nuclear states, despite the NPT and bilateral agreements. While global leaders prepare for next year’s NPT Review, it is fundamentally important that civil society plays a role in bringing about fruitful negotiations.
Owning nuclear for many countries has become a political leverage, an idea which is replicated in Israel, Iran, Pakistan and India. Shockingly, at least 50% of Cold War nuclear materials such as uranium are insecurely stored across the world and readily available. Kazakhstan is highly enriched with uranium, and will not be long until another country occupies this material.
For the 8-9 nuclear states that already exist, at least 4 countries remain unsigned, establishing the NPT’s unequal status relationship. North Korea and Iran have openly defied international laws by conducting nuclear tests. Coerced effort to sign is not the way forward towards nuclear disarmament. The five recognised nuclear states under ‘Negative Nuclear Assurance” have already committed themselves towards steps for nuclear abolishment, however this is yet to be concrete steps since 1999. Outcomes of the 2005 NPT conference were non-adopted, and a complete time-waster. Therefore what measures are needed to ensure that the next review is not a complete fiasco?
Lord Hannay suggested the best option is to put pressure for negotiations with the willingness for the US to openly talk about disarming. New elements need to be introduced and civil nuclear energy must be avoided.
Rebecca Johnson interestingly pointed out that the role of nuclear tactics in military doctrines and policies must reduce if disarmament is to ever become a reality. Nuclear weapons is seen as an unconditional nuclear assurance however its impact if used is catastrophic. A review of any previous policies must not be criticised, instead use such example to discuss tactical arrangements to decrease proliferation; separating the ‘what happened’ to ‘what will happen.’
Humphrey Hawksley and Rebecca Johnson
In regard to civil society action, BBC correspondent Humphrey Hawksley illustrated his personal experience of North Korea. While owning nuclear weapons has leveraged North Korea in the political arena, priorities of civil society is very different. If the economy within the country grew, there will be less important on nuclear weapons. Young people within the country would much rather focus on education and development than owning dangerous weapons for their state. However, while there is optimism that younger generation may drive the need for nuclear weapons out, monitoring of nuclear growth and economic reform must take the place of further nuclear development and testing, and this action can start at home.
The general advice was to praise your government for the effort they are putting towards nuclear abolition, highlighting any recent accomplishments. However, urge the government to ensure negotiations at the NPT Review is focused on progressive and concrete steps towards disarmament
and finding a safe alternative to domestic nuclear energy. Forge links between climate change and nuclear energy, and write letters to select committees and your MP in prioritising towards nuclear abolition. Aim for Global Zero!
In the evening session Colin Archer spoke about Nuclear Weapons at What Cost ? , followed by Vijay Mehta who spoke on preventing the danger from 2 nuclear armed countries India and Pakistan. Brian Cooper and Frank Jackson gave details of civil society, Interfaith and church initiatives for global disarmament. Jeremy Corbyn gave the news about the Prep com held in New York this was followed by a vibrant and excellent Q/A session.
It is decided that the booklet on this important and major conference will be produced by the Action for UN Renewal and World Disarmament Campaign. It will be a resource material for the upcoming Nuclear Non-Prolification Treat Conference next year in 2010 in New York, it will add to the momentum already gathering towards the successful conclusion of next year conference for the reduction of nuclear arsenal.
To read Vijay Mehta’s full speech at the House of Lords conference.