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News-April 2011

Abolition 2000 Update

Progress and actions for the global abolition of nuclear weapons April 2011

CONTENTS:

  1. Vancouver Declaration on Law’s Imperative for Nuclear Abolition
  2. Fukushima: Nuclear energy (and weapons) – uncontrollable in time and space
  3. Peace Boat’s Emergency Relief for the Earthquake in Japan
  4. Help us engage parliamentarians/legislators in PNND’s nuclear abolition initiatives
  5. Indian Prime Minister establishes nuclear abolition advisory group
  6. Canadian Parliament considers plan for nuclear abolition
  7. World Council of Churches urges NATO to remove all nuclear weapons from Europe
  8. What NATO countries say about tactical nuclear weapons in Europe – new IKV Pax Christi report
  9. North Korea: 6-10 nuclear weapons or a nuclear-weapon-free zone?
  10. Invitation to endorse an Arctic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone proposal
  11. Newark Peace Summit
  12. United Nations opens display with 1 million-strong nuclear abolition petition
  13. Bikes not bombs – carbon free, nuclear free summer ride!

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1.  Vancouver Declaration on Law’s Imperative for Nuclear Abolition

On 23 March 2011 a group of experts in international law and nuclear weapons policy released the Vancouver Declaration on Law’s Imperative for the Urgent Achievement of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World. The declaration arose from a conference on Law and Human Security: The Emerging Paradigm for Non-Use and Elimination of Nuclear Weapons held in Vancouver from 10-11 February 2011 organised by The Simons Foundation and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA).

The declaration – signed by leading lawyers, legal scholars, former officials, parliamentarians and civil society representatives – evaluates the legal status of nuclear weapons in light of emerging international law (humanitarian, environmental, public, peace and security law). Such law is recognized by States in various ways including in military law manuals, international conventions and most recently in the statement agreed by States Parties to the NPT that any use of nuclear weapons would have “catastrophic humanitarian consequences” and that “all States at all times need to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law.”

The Vancouver Declaration concludes that ‘the legal imperative for non-use and elimination of nuclear weapons is more evident than ever” and that “Reasons advanced for the continuing existence of nuclear weapons, including military necessity and case-by-case analysis” can no longer be used to prevent progress – that such arguments are now outweighed by  ‘elementary considerations of humanity’ as was the case with other indiscriminate weapons that have been prohibited by treaties. The Vancouver Declaration provides a powerful and influential legal argument to move all governments – whether nuclear weapons possessors, allies or non-nuclear States – from inertia to actively developing a regime for prohibition, in line with the 2010 NPT Review Conference agreement that “All States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.”

For more information see:

2.  Fukushima: Nuclear energy (and weapons) – uncontrollable in time and space

Opinion piece by Alyn Ware

The challenge to meet increasing national and global energy needs, while at the same time reducing climate change emissions, led a number of governments to turn to nuclear energy as a potential saviour. The Fukushima disaster should prompt us to stop, assess the real dangers and costs of nuclear energy, and make the necessary transition to the development of safe, clean, renewable energy sources.

Fukushima is not the first – and won’t be the last – nuclear disaster as long as countries continue to operate nuclear power facilities. Three Mile Island, Windscale/Sellafield and Chernobyl are other tragic examples of nuclear accidents which have had severe impacts on human health through radiation release… Even without accidents, disasters or attacks, nuclear energy production releases harmful quantities of radiation at all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle,  including uranium mining, extraction, enrichment and transport, and routine nuclear power plant operation itself. And no-one yet has found a solution to the storing of spent nuclear fuel, the radioactive waste byproduct of nuclear power production, which is highly dangerous for hundreds of thousands of years. Building nuclear reactors without knowing what to do with this radioactive waste is like building a house with no functioning toilet.

Just as alarming is the fact that every nuclear power program provides the potential to make nuclear bombs. France, India, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa and North Korea all developed nuclear weapons from nuclear energy programs. There are serious concerns that other countries with nuclear energy programs could follow-suit.

Claims that nuclear energy is a viable economic choice do not withstand a reality check. The true cost has been hidden by extensive government subsidies, limits on liability for accidents, and pricing structures not including the costs for waste storage and nuclear power plant decommissioning. Equally false are claims that nuclear energy is carbon neutral and thus a desirable choice to halt and reverse climate change. It is true that the fission of enriched uranium in a nuclear reactor to generate energy produces no carbon emissions. However, every other step required to produce nuclear energy releases carbon into the atmosphere.

In solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of victims and survivors of the nuclear energy and weapons industries we should phase out nuclear energy and weapons – the human and environmental impact of both being uncontrollable in time and space. See:

3.  Peace Boat’s Emergency Relief for the Earthquake in Japan

Peace Boat – a member organization of Abolition 2000 from Japan  – is undertaking considerable emergency relief work in Fukushima following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor disaster. Activities include 1) Cooking and distribution of hot meals for those living outside the emergency shelters; 2) Supporting cleaning and organization in the shelters; and 3) Clearing mud from the roads and buildings in the town. For more information see:

HOW TO DONATE: You can make a secure online donation via PayPal. Click here to donate or visit Peace Boat US a 501(c)3 registered organization in the United States for more details about donations and US tax deduction. No fees are charged so your entire donation will go directly to relief efforts.

4.  Help us engage parliamentarians/legislators in PNND’s nuclear abolition initiatives

Parliamentarians and parliaments play a key role in the success of disarmament and non-proliferation efforts. Parliaments support the implementation of treaties and global agreements contributing to the rule of law and promoting adherence to commitments. At a time when the international community is facing unprecedented global challenges, parliamentarians can take on leading roles in ensuring sustainable global security, while reducing the diversion of precious resources from human needs. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Excerpt from a letter to every parliament in the world, February 2010

Please join us in outreach to parliamentarians/legislators in your country to become active in Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), a global cross-party network which is free for parliamentarians to join and is making a real difference. PNND was commended by Ban Ki-moon (in his letter to all parliaments) for the work they are doing to effectively engage parliamentarians in key initiatives including the proposal for a nuclear weapons convention.

Abolition 2000 has thus established a special working group to assist A2000 members around the world outreach to their parliamentarians/legislators to invite them to join PNND and become active in nuclear abolition initiatives. Inspired by the success of the Abolition 2000 working group on Mayors for Peace, which helped build membership of Mayors for Peace from about 500 to over 4000 mayors and cities around the world, Abolition 2000 hopes to raise PNND membership from its current level of 800 legislators to over 2012 by the end of 2012. We need your help to achieve this! To join the group please contact aslater@rcn.com

Useful materials for engaging with parliamentarians (links given to English versions. Contact us for versions in other languages):

  1. PNND organizational brochure;
  2. Letter from PNND Co-Presidents inviting parliamentarians to join PNND;
  3. Letter from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to every parliament commending PNND and encouraging parliamentarians to become more active;
  4. Summary of PNND activities and accomplishments for 2010.

5.  Indian Prime Minister establishes nuclear abolition advisory group

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently established a nuclear abolition advisory group to consider the role of India in achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world with particular consideration of the ideas and proposals in the 1988 Rajiv Gandhi Plan for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free and Non-violent World Order. The advisory group, established from a recommendation by Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar (Global Council Member of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament) and Sonia Gandhi (widow of Rajiv Gandhi), includes Indian defense and foreign policy experts and is being serviced by the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses. The advisory group has had briefings from a number of Indian and overseas experts including from Abolition 2000.

6.  Canadian parliament considers plan for nuclear abolition

On 2 March 2011, Middle Powers Initiative founder Douglas Roche and Abolition 2000 Global Council Member Alyn Ware testified to the Canadian Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee on steps to implement the resolution adopted unanimously by the Parliament on 7 December 2010 supporting the UN Secretary-General’s five-point plan, calling for the commencement of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention, welcoming the statement by over 500 recipients of the Order of Canada supporting the NWC, and urging the government to initiate a global effort to achieve nuclear disarmament. On the recommendation by Roche and Ware, the Foreign Affairs committee agreed to consider Canadian support for the draft UN resolution proposed by the Middle Powers Initiative which invites the UN Secretary-General to host diplomatic (inter-governmental) conferences to pave the way for negotiations on a NWC or package of agreements. Roche had just been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and released his 20th book How we stopped loving the bomb.

Canadian experts followed-up with an expert seminar in Ottawa on April 11th and 12th attended by parliamentarians, government officials and diplomats from 20 embassies. Calling for negotiations to start on a legal ban on all nuclear weapons, Sergio Duarte, High Representative for Disarmament at the U.N., said use of any nuclear weapon would be “an egregious violation of the most fundamental tenets of international humanitarian law and the laws of war.”  Ambassador Richard Butler, Middle Powers Initiative chairman, said “Canada has a special role to play because it has the standing to stimulate informal discussions on the legal, technical and political requisites for a nuclear weapons free world that can set the stage for major international negotiations.” (See Experts urge Canadian leadership to ban nuclear weapons).

7.  World Council of Churches urges NATO to remove all nuclear weapons from Europe

The World Council of Churches (WCC) and church organizations on both sides of the Atlantic are urging NATO to remove all United States nuclear weapons still based in Europe and end their role in the alliance’s policy. In a letter of March 16 to US President Barack Obama, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, leaders of the church bodies argue that the 200 or so nuclear weapons involved are “remnants of Cold War strategies… NATO should rethink deterrence and security cooperation in Europe”, they say, and make good on NATO’s new commitment last year to “creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons”. Removal of the US weapons still stationed in Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey, the churches note, would reduce by one-third the number of countries that have nuclear weapons on their soil, to 9 from 14. The church organisations acted in anticipation of an important NATO nuclear policy review this year. That review and a NATO summit in 2012 present an “opportunity for change that is long overdue and widely anticipated,” their letters say. See: Churches engaged for nuclear arms control

8.  What NATO countries say about tactical nuclear weapons in Europe – new IKV Pax Christi report

Between October 2009 and November 2010, discussions within NATO on the deployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe intensified, taking many off guard. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands were among those to speak out against continued deployment. As a result, the tactical nuclear weapons issue became one of the most contentious debates in the consultation process leading to the November 2010 adoption of the NATO Strategic Concept. In the face of conflicting – and shifting – reports on the discussions from the media and experts, Netherlands-based IKV Pax Christi set out to interview all 28 NATO delegations, as well as NATO staffers concerned with nuclear planning and deployment, to ask how they assessed the future of tactical nuclear weapons deployment in Europe.

The result of these interviews is now available in the report: Withdrawal Issues: What NATO countries say about the future of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

9.  North Korea: 6-10 nuclear weapons – or a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone?

North Korea has between six and ten nuclear weapons, according to South Korea’s Minister of Unification, Hyun In Taek. Hyun offered the analysis in response to a question by Grand National Party lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo during a National Assembly hearing on 7 April, specifying that the figure relates only to plutonium-based weapons. In February it was suggested that North Korea also possesses between 30 and 50 kilos of plutonium, enough for a further four to seven weapons (See Ministry assumes 6-10 Nukes).

PNND Japan and PNND South Korea sections have been advancing a joint proposal for a North East Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, which would lower the role of nuclear weapons in the region for all of the six-party countries (China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea and the United States) and provide guarantees to non-nuclear States (including North Korea if it gave up its nuclear weapons option) that nuclear weapons would not be used against them. The proposal has been endorsed by former Japanese Foreign Ministers Katsuya Okada (DPJ) and Yoriko Kawaguchi (LDP – Co-Chair of the International Commission for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament) and more than 90 other parliamentarians  from Japan and South Korea. (See Parliamentary initiative for a Northeast Asia NWFZ). PNND has held a number of parliamentary meetings and conferences in Seoul and Tokyo, as well as delegations to Washington, Beijing and Pyongyang, including one in November 2010 led by former New Zealand Minister for Disarmament Matt Robson.

The Nautilus Institute has proposed a more limited Japan-South Korea NWFZ, but there is considerable doubt as to whether such a proposal would be politically feasible, as Japan and South Korea would be unlikely to give up extended nuclear deterrence whilst North Korea remained a nuclear-weapon-State. (See A Northeast Asian [i.e. Japan/South Korea] Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone Is Unrealistic).

10.  Invitation to endorse an Arctic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone proposal

Canadian Pugwash invites you (as an individual) and your organization to endorse a statement proposing that an Arctic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone be established. Adele Buckley, Canadian Pugwash Arctic Security Working Group, writes in a letter to all A2000 members that:

In the Arctic, two major problems of our time—climate change and nuclear weapons—have created exceptional opportunities for co-operation or conflict. Pressure from many, including the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, to abolish nuclear weapons supports the impetus to eliminate them north of the Arctic Circle, notwithstanding the presence of two nuclear weapons states bordering the Arctic Ocean. The climate change induced opening of the Arctic with its great upheavals in the way of life and business, tells us that “now is the time” for the Arctic NWFZ.”

Adele notes that endorsement of the statement implies agreement with the over-arching proposal for an Arctic NWFZ, and not necessarily agreement with every phrase in the statement.

Canadian Pugwash has established a dedicated Arctic Nuclear Weapon Free Zone website with background information, articles, initiatives, events and other useful information, as well as an Arctic NWFZ discussion group for those interested in dialogue on the proposal. For additional information contact Adele Buckley.

11.  Newark Peace Summit – for a non-violent and nuclear-free world

The Newark Peace Education Summit is a three day conference focusing on peacemaking practices from around the world. It features panels and workshops with His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Goldie Hawn (actress and children’s rights advocate), Somaly Mam (Cambodian advocate against the sex slave trade), Deepak Chopra, Ismael Beah (former child soldier), Jiwe Morris (former leader of the Bloods gang), Martin Luther King III, Alyn Ware (PNND Global Coordinator), Rabbi Michael Lerner (Chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives), Mona Pollaca (International Council of Indigenous Grandmothers) and other Nobel Laureates and peace advocates from a wide cross section of cultures, disciplines and perspectives.

The summit will explore the programs, policies, and methods used by communities to establish peace and disarmament, why and how they work, and how to replicate them in America and around the world. The event will be held at the NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center) in Newark, New Jersey, May 13-15, 2011. Do not miss this precious opportunity to cultivate peace.  EXPLORE THE PROGRAM

12.  United Nations opens display with 1 million-strong nuclear abolition petition

A one-million signature petition from cities around the world demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons went on exhibition at United Nations Headquarters in New York on March 23 in a ceremony addressed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Messenger for Peace Michael Douglas, UN High Representative for Disarmament Sergio Duarte, Jackie Cabasso representing Mayors for Peace and three Hibakusha (Japanese survivors of the use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki). The petition, Cities Are Not Targets, is part of the new exhibit along with an animated Mayors for Peace documentary, some information panels and a statue that survived the Nagasaki bomb.

Ban Ki-moon, in opening the new exhibit, said “Everywhere I go, I will repeat my strong, consistent and clear call for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. I will carry the message of the million petitioners represented here today and the many millions more around the world seeking to end the nuclear threat. Together, we can rid the world of nuclear weapons and answer the call of these hibakusha, who survived a nuclear attack and dedicated themselves to making sure no one else would ever suffer the same fate.” The UN Secretary-General then signed the petition followed by Michael Douglas, Sergio Duarte and others in attendance. (See UN News Centre: Million-signature petition to end nuclear weapons goes on display at UN Headquarters).

13.  Bikes not bombs – carbon free, nuclear free summer ride!

Footprints for Peace and Bikes not Bombs invite you to join a seven-day bike-ride for a nuclear free world starting in Cincinnati Ohio on July 31st and finishing in Oak Ridge Tennessee at the Y12 Nuclear Weapons Complex on August 6th. The bike-ride will culminate in a Names and Remembrance Ceremony to memorialize victims of the nuclear weapons industry, recall the destruction by nuclear weapons, and promote a future free of nuclear weapons. For more information contact info@footprintsforpeace.net.

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Abolition 2000 Update is a regular update of progress and actions for a global treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. Please send any items for inclusion in the next update to alyn@lcnp.org

For further information about Abolition 2000 and our activities see www.abolition2000.org or contact:

Manuel Padilla
Abolition 2000 Global Office
C/- Pax Christi
1225 Otis St. NE, Washington, DC 20017, USA
Phone: +1 202-635-2757 ext 118
Fax: 202-832-9494
manuel@paxchristiusa.org

Alyn Ware or Mayra Gomez (A2000 Global Coordinating Committee)
Abolition 2000
Aotearoa-New Zealand PO Box 24-429, Manners Street Wellington,
Aotearoa-New Zealand
Phone: +64 4 496-9629
Fax +64 4 496-9599
alyn@lcnp.org  or mayra@pnnd.org