Quotable

"The moral cost of nuclear armament is that it makes of all of us underwriters of the slaughter of hundreds of millions of people and of the cancellation of future generations." -Jonathan Schell


Friday, May 18, 2012

Message from Youth on Nukes: "Remember your humanity, and forget the rest"

YOUTH SPEECH during the Civil society presentations to the First Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference

May 2, 2012, Vienna, Austria

Speech written by Mirko Montuori, Abolition 2000; Leonardo Scuto, Atlantic Treaty Association; Christian N. Ciobanu, Raphael Zaffran, and Charlie Sell, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; and Martin Hinrichs, Ban All Nukes Generation.

Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

Two years ago in New York our predecessors asked ironically if, at the age of 65, nuclear weapons had reached the time for compulsory retirement. Today, on the verge of them turning 67, we ask you to declare them not only out of business, but also deprived of any retirement scheme.

We are young, but we are not naive.

We are young, but we are not unaware of the world around us.

We are here, representing the youth movement for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, urging you to comply with your commitments towards your citizens and to start immediate negotiations for a decisive nuclear weapons convention.

We all know the destructive power of nuclear weapons, as they have been used and tested too often in the past.

The presence of nuclear weapons in this world leaves us with two possible futures: in the best case scenario, states continue to own weapons that will never be used. In the worst case scenario, these weapons could be used at all times. We reject both futures, for nuclear weapons should simply not exist.

Mr. Chairman, the very first resolution of the UN General Assembly established the objective to prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons as a top priority of the international community. Then the Cold War broke out and the two superpowers developed the concept of nuclear deterrence. It is not surprising that the resulting military doctrine was called MAD. The Cold War is now over and deterrence is an outdated justification for the existence of such weapons.

Today, we feel the danger and risk of nuclear weapons more than ever. The source of our fears and frustrations lies in the same events that have recently challenged the goals of the NPT.

We, the youth, fear an arms race in several regions of the world and the unchecked proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We, the youth, sit frustrated as we continue to witness the lack of political will and trust needed to confront these obstacles.

It is crucial to build trust among states by prioritizing the elimination of rapidly deployable nuclear weapons. These weapons can destroy entire cities or countries in a few hours. Increasing trust would mean that states tempted to build new weapons would be universally accountable to the international community.

There is a man who has used nuclear weapons and is now engaging against them. His name is Robert Green, he is a former Commander of the Royal Navy and now one of the staunchest advocates of nuclear abolition. We can all learn from his experience. There are also those who have survived the use of these terrible weapons. They are the victims and witnesses of the only weapons that could destroy our planet. Hibakushas bring on their dignified fight against them, well aware of their risks. They are a living warning against the worst form of death conceived by humankind, and to ignore them is to ignore the worst risk that humanity could face.

We live in the world of the Third Industrial Revolution, with an increasing power of communication and online interaction. As a result, we are all linked to each other.

How do you justify the existence, development and maintenance of these weapons in a world where your children and grandchildren do not see the difference between an Asian and European boy, between an American and an African girl? And how do you justify them in a world hit by the worst economic crisis since 1929, where youth unemployment is increasingly designing our instable future? Representatives of the world's nations, how do you justify maintaining nuclear weapons in such a context? Is this the world that you want to hand down to younger generations?

We, as young people, care a lot about the future of this planet. We are aware that differences of cultures, religions, and political constraints persist. But we will not give up our fight against nuclear weapons.

Do not ignore our concern! Remember your humanity, and forget the rest.

Thank you very much for your attention.

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(PDF of Youth Speech here: http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/npt/prepcom12/statements/ngo-youth.pdf)

Friday, May 11, 2012

One half of 1%: a sobering perspective!

Today the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) wraps up the first of three meetings leading up to the 2015 NPT Conference. 

It is an appopriate time for a serious reminder that, even with the overarching (yet important) emphasis of many of the nuclear powers on terrorists getting their hands on nuclear weapons or materials, the greatest probability of a disaster related to nuclear weapons is still an exchange of these horrific weapons between the existing nuclear powers.

The following article published today at CNN provides that reminder in clear terms.  Working to abolish the Trident weapons system (and all nuclear weapons for that matter) this quote from the article hits home:   
Each U.S. Trident submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study.
And that's just ONE submarine.  Here at the Bangor Trident submarine base we have 8 of the 14 ballistic missile submarines mentioned in the article.  Overkill by many orders of magnitude!!! 

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A nuclear clash could starve the world - CNN.com

By Jayantha Dhanapala and Ira Helfand, Special to CNN, Fri May 11,2012

Editor's note: Jayantha Dhanapala is a former ambassador to the United States from Sri Lanka, U.N. under-secretary general for disarmament and chairman of the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Ira Helfand is the past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and current North American vice president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

(CNN) -- Recent ballistic missile tests by India, Pakistan and North Korea -- which has ominously threatened to "reduce to ashes"the South Korean military "in minutes" -- are once again focusing the world's attention on the dangers of nuclear war.

This concern was dramatically underscored in a new report released at the Nobel Peace Laureates Summit in Chicago. Titled "Nuclear Famine: A Billion People at Risk"

http://www.psr.org/nuclear-weapons/nuclear-famine-report.pdf

The study shows that even a limited nuclear war, involving less than half of 1% of the world's nuclear arsenals, would cause climate disruption that could set off a global famine.

The study, prepared by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and its U.S. affiliate, Physicians for Social Responsibility, used a scenario of 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs exploded in a war between India and Pakistan. If there were such a war, the study estimated that 1 billion people, one-sixth of the human race, could starve over the following decade.

Along with recent events, these findings require a fundamental change in our thinking about nuclear weapons.

The study, in positing a war between India and Pakistan, shows the importance of understanding that smaller nuclear powers, not just the United States and Russia, pose a threat to the whole world.

But the greater lesson concerns the forces of the larger nuclear powers. Each U.S. Trident submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study. The United States has 14 ofthem, a fleet of land-based nuclear missiles, and an arsenal of nuclear weapons that can be delivered by bombers. The Russians possess the same grotesque overkill capacity.

Even the most ambitious arms reductions under discussion would leavethe United States and Russia with 300 warheads each, most of them 10 to 30 times larger than a Hiroshima sized bomb. This would be a massive arsenal capable of producing the global famine scenario many, many times over.

These arsenals are an archaic, but lethal, holdover from the Cold War. Their continued existence poses an ongoing threat to allhumanity.

Steps can and should be taken immediately to lessen this danger. Substantial numbers of these weapons remain on what The New York Timeshas described as "hair-trigger alert." They can be fired in 15 minutes or less and destroy cities a continent away 30 minutes later. This alert posture creates the needless danger of an accidental or unintended launch, and the United States and Russia have had many close calls, preparing to launch a nuclear strike at the other under the mistaken belief they were under attack.

The most recent of these near-misses that we know about took place in January 1995, well after the end of the Cold War. The United States and Russia should stand down their nuclear arsenals so that it takes longer to launch their missiles, lessening the danger of an accidental war. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladamir Putin can take this step on their own without negotiating a formaltreaty.

Beyond this, it is time to begin urgent talks aimed at reducing the U.S. and Russian arsenals as the next essential step toward multilateral negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a binding, verifiable, enforceable treaty that eliminates nuclear weapons altogether.

As former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev observed on reviewing the new "Nuclear Famine" study: "I am convinced that nuclear weapons must be abolished. Their use in a military conflict is unthinkable; using them to achieve political objectives is immoral.

"Over 25 years ago, President Ronald Reagan and I ended our summit meeting in Geneva with a joint statement that 'Nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,' and this new study underscores in stunning and disturbing detail why this is the case."

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(Source URL for this article: http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/11/opinion/dhanapala-helfand-nuclear-famine/index.html)

Blogger's Note: Steven Starr has done tremendous research on nuclear famine.  Learn more at http://www.nucleardarkness.org/