In 1970, at the height of the Cold War, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) came into force. Under the Treaty, which today includes all but five UN member states, five states acknowledged to possess nuclear weapons, the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China (N5), agreed to pursue nuclear disarmament, and all other states agreed not to acquire nuclear weapons.
52 years later, this NPT core bargain has still not been fulfilled. Four more countries outside the NPT now have nuclear weapons (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea), and there are still over 13,000 nuclear weapons distributed among the nine countries.
States parties to the NPT meet every five years to assess progress and agree further steps. The 10th NPT Review Conference was due to take place in May 2020 and, having been postponed several times, was scheduled to start on the 4th of January in New York. This latest attempt to convene the conference has sadly also been scuppered due to the omicron variant currently rampaging across the world.
On the eve of the conference, on January 3, the N5 issued a statement reiterating the statement by Presidents Gorbachev and Reagan on the 21st of November, 1985 in Geneva that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
Disarmament advocates working within the Global Council of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, welcomed the fact that all five NPT nuclear weapon states now agree to the Gorbachev/Reagan statement but also denounced the hypocrisy of the N5 statement.
In its own statement, published today on its website, Abolition 2000 called out the Orwellian “Nuke-speak” of the N5 statement. Immediately after affirming the Reagan-Gorbachev statement, the N5 backtrack by saying: “[W]e also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.”
According to the Abolition 2000 statement: “This reflects the reality that most of the nuclear-armed states maintain first use/first strike doctrines, and on one or more occasions during international crises and wars have prepared and/or threatened to initiate nuclear war. The inconvenient truth is that nuclear weapons will continue to exist as long as nuclear-armed states continue to cling to the dangerous doctrine of ‘nuclear deterrence’ – the threatened use of nuclear weapons.”
Despite the N5 saying in their statement that, “We remain committed to our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, including our Article VI obligation ‘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…’.” the reality is that all countries with nuclear weapons continue to modernise, upgrade and in some cases even expand their nuclear arsenals.
Abolition 2000 points out that “with potential flashpoints over Ukraine and Taiwan, the risk of another use of nuclear weapons is as high as it has ever been. The nuclear disarmament process is stalled, and the five NPT Nuclear-Weapon States cannot credibly claim they are meeting their NPT Article VI obligations.”
The statement ends:
In George Orwell’s novel “1984,” Newspeak words/phrases were created by the government to placate the public and disguise the reality which was often the opposite of those words/phrases. It is well past time for the five NPT Nuclear-Weapon States to stop issuing Orwellian “nuke-speak” statements and commence negotiations in good faith on elimination of their nuclear arsenals. Possible pathways include:
- negotiation of a framework agreement which includes the legal commitment to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world, identifies the measures and pathways required in general terms, and provides a process for agreeing on details over time;
- negotiation of protocols to the TPNW which nuclear armed and allied states would sign as part of a process for them to join the TPNW and build the nuclear destruction, elimination, verification and compliance process through the TPNW;
- negotiation of a comprehensive nuclear weapons convention or package of agreements.
There are important choices to be made about the path to abolition of nuclear arms. But what is most critical is that the process of negotiating the elimination of nuclear weapons begin immediately, without further delay.
The Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, founded in 1995 during the NPT Review Conference which decided to indefinitely extend the NPT, originally scheduled to expire that year, is a network of over 2000 organizations around the world which are committed to campaigning for a nuclear-weapon-free world, based on the points outlined in the 11-point founding statement.
For media enquiries:
Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, California, USA: [email protected], +1 510-306-0119
Alyn Ware, Basel Peace Office, Switzerland: [email protected], +420 773 638 867
Tony Robinson, Middle East Treaty Organization: [email protected], +44 7958 254938