Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Veterans Call on US to Sign Nuclear Ban Treaty

I know my Brigadier General grandfather would have been among the veterans calling for this higher good for us all. May we all be among those who are passionately working for a sane, peaceful, and just world. - Molly

'Let this be the generation that will finally ban nuclear weapons,' write the authors. (Photo: Pixaby/WikiImages/CC0)
 "Let this be the generation that will finally ban nuclear weapons. It's not just about peace and justice; it's about the survival of all life on earth."

On July 7th, 2017, the United Nations (UN), in a historic decision, approved a legally binding instrument to ban nuclear weapons, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Months of negotiations involving over 130 countries began in March of this year, culminating in a final draft endorsed by 122 countries. The treaty marks a significant milestone to help free the world of nuclear weapons.

The treaty emphasizes “the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons.” It forbids participating states “to develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” Additionally, it explains that the complete elimination of nuclear weapons from international arsenals “remains the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons are never used again under any circumstances.”

In keeping with a history of being unwilling to relinquish its massive nuclear arsenal, the U.S refused to enter treaty negotiations and used its status as the sole remaining international superpower to organize a boycott that influenced approximately 40 countries.

U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki R. Haley defended the absence of the U.S. from the negotiations, stating, “There is nothing I want more for my family than a world with no nuclear weapons, but we have to be realistic. Is there anyone who thinks that North Korea would ban nuclear weapons?” Veterans For Peace (VFP), a nonprofit working since 1985 to abolish war and nurture peace and the only veterans non-governmental organization (NGO) represented at the UN, released a statement in response, strongly criticizing the U.S.’s refusal to participate, noting that the discussions were a “series of missed opportunities by the United States to use its position as the world’s undisputed military power to change the course of history … and end the danger and peril that nuclear weapons pose to the world.”

Humanity has been at the brink of a nuclear exchange on multiple occasions since the end of World War II, including times when the decision to launch was seconds from happening. An urgent question, then, is why these close calls, as well as the brutal and unnecessary annihilation of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that preceded them, failed to convince all governments that nuclear weapons represent an existential threat to humanity, thus nuclear disarmament must be a top priority?

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