Turcotte: US trying to sabotage ban treaty

(text version below image version)

Earl Turcotte – Letter to The Hill TimeAs. Published in modified form on Nov. 2, 2020.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), negotiated in 2017 has been endorsed by 122 nations.  Since that time, 50 nations have signed and ratified the Treaty, triggering its entry into force in 90 days.

While most of the world will celebrate this historic event, almost 75 years to the day after the UN’s first-ever resolution that called for the elimination of atomic weapons, the United States of America is doing its level best to sabotage the Treaty.

In a now widely circulated ‘non-paper’ sent to countries that have joined the TPNW, the US registers its outrage and requests that they withdraw from the Treaty. Why? Among the long list of reasons cited by the Americans, because “Russia and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) are engaged in a nuclear arms buildup with the goal of military dominance that if left unimpeded, will result in a new nuclear arms race. Should they succeed, the result will be profoundly negative for the future of the democratic way of life… And let’s be frank: The TPNW will not stand in Russia’s or the PRC’s way in remaking the global order in their own cynical, autocratic image.”

Leave aside that China has approximately 300 nuclear weapons, compared to the US and Russia that have 6,000 each and that the US spends more on defence each year than the next 10 countries combined.   It is precisely this kind of ham-fisted rhetoric, combined with the US’ own actions in recent years, that render nuclear disarmament a global imperative.   

The United States itself triggered the new nuclear arms race when it announced that it would budget $1.5 Trillion dollars over the next 30 years to ‘modernize’ its nuclear arsenal. Donald Trump, in addition to increasing tension with adversaries and allies alike, has threatened “fire and fury” on North Korea, withdrawn from the nuclear deal with Iran and  the Intermediate-range Nuclear forces Treaty with Russia, stated his intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty and has not to date agreed to renew the critically important New START Treaty with Russia that will expire in February 2021 – despite repeated offers by Russia to extend the Treaty without preconditions.

While there is indeed cause for concern about an ascendant China and Mr. Putin’s clear longing for the glory days of the former USSR, it is lunacy to engage in this kind of brinkmanship. All hell could break loose – deliberately or accidentally – plunging the world into an existential crisis that could make a global pandemic feel like a day at the beach.

What to do? Looking (and praying) for change south of our border after November 3rd, Joe Biden has indicated that, if elected, he would try to scale back Trump’s buildup in nuclear weapons spending and would make the US less reliant upon the world’s deadliest weapons.  There could be an opportunity here, to engage a more rational and mature administration in the United States. Either way, the rest of the world has to make it clear to all nuclear armed states that enough is enough! We’ve got to get rid of these damned weapons before they get rid of us!

Earl Turcotte
Chair, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Roche: Canada can’t hide behind NATO in refusal to sign treaty on nuclear weapons prohibition

Douglas Roche: “The Canadian government has said it cannot make such a commitment because of its membership in NATO. But the letter contests this stand, arguing that nothing in the new treaty precludes a NATO state joining, as long as it never assists the use of nuclear weapons.”

EDMONTON—Lloyd Axworthy, Jean-Jacques Blais, Jean Chrétien, Bill Graham, John McCallum, John Manley, and John Turner.

These seven names hardly need an introduction to readers of The Hill Times, and certainly not to the Government of Canada. Two of them are former prime ministers, three are former foreign ministers, and two are former defence ministers, who ran and served Liberal governments.

All of them signed an open letter [en français], released on Sept. 21, that features 53 former high officials of NATO countries expressing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is an astonishing rebuke of NATO’s moribund policies on nuclear weapons, and the most serious challenge to NATO’s nuclear orthodoxy in the organization’s 71-year history. Even two former NATO secretaries-general, Javier Solana and Willy Claes, as well as former U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, joined in this protest.

Continue reading “Roche: Canada can’t hide behind NATO in refusal to sign treaty on nuclear weapons prohibition”

Canadian Call to Action on Nuclear Disarmament

On the historic occasions of,

The 75th Anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people,

The 75th Anniversary of the founding of the United Nations whose stated purpose is to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…” and whose first Resolution sought the elimination of atomic weapons, 

And the 50th Anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons that binds almost all of the world’s nations,

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons issues to the Government of Canada the following Call to Action on Nuclear Disarmament:

Continue reading “Canadian Call to Action on Nuclear Disarmament”

75 Years Since the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – We Remember

August 6th and 9th, 2020 marked 75 years since atomic bombs were dropped on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 people.

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons* (CNANW) hosted a virtual event on August 6th from 2:00 to 3:30 Eastern to honour the victims of this unspeakable act, and to consider new action to help rid the world of nuclear weapons. Which can be viewed above.

Continue reading “75 Years Since the Nuclear Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – We Remember”

How Many Intensive Care Beds Will A Nuclear Weapon Explosion Require?

Tom Sauer and Ramesh Thakur

A novel coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China late last year, hopping in one way or another from other animals to humans. Initially the rest of the world thought this outbreak was a local problem and then was shocked at the brutality of the lockdown that the Chinese authorities clamped on Wuhan to quarantine the infection cluster. Despite China’s efforts at containment, soon the virus rode the highways and byways of globalisation to quickly circle the world. Other countries realised their hospital systems could be overwhelmed unless they drastically slowed the surge of new infections. No country had the number of beds in its intensive care units (ICUs) to manage patient loads under worst-case scenarios of letting this new coronavirus spread through the community to acquire herd immunity.

To those of us whose primary professional interest lies in nuclear weapons and the dangers they pose, the coronavirus pandemic is a striking validation of the Humanitarian Initiative, which took off 10 years ago with three core propositions: First, no country individually has the capacity to cope with the humanitarian consequences of a nuclear war, and the international system doesn’t have it collectively, either. Second, it is therefore in the interests of all humanity that nuclear weapons never be used again, under any circumstances. And finally: The only guarantee of non-use is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. These precepts were the powerful impetus behind the Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty that 122 states at the United Nations adopted in July 2017.

The pandemic speaks to the truth of the first proposition about the power of the bomb. The near-universal response to the panic created by COVID-19 leads us to the conclusion that the number of ICU beds needed to deal with a disaster should become a new norm, and a new way to judge when radical action is needed to respond to a global threat. So what other types of global catastrophes could call for more hospital infrastructure and personnel than is now available? The bomb is one obvious answer. Are the number of ICU beds sufficient to respond to a disaster caused by the explosion of one nuclear weapon or, in a war, many? No, they are not sufficient. Not even close.

A serious threat assessment consists of estimating the size of a threat and its probability. For the nuclear threat, estimating the size is rather straightforward; the probability is more difficult. A nuclear cataclysm is low probability in the short term, almost certain in the long run, and high impact whenever it happens. Let’s put it another way: For nuclear peace to hold, deterrence and fail-safe mechanisms must work every single time. For nuclear catastrophe to occur, either deterrence or fail safe mechanisms need to break down only once. This is not a comforting equation. Moreover, deterrence stability depends on rational decision-makers being always in office in every single nuclear-armed country. The leaders of the nine countries with the bomb today—China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Paki- stan, Russia, the UK, and the United States—do not universally reassure on this score.

So let’s take the number of available intensive care beds as the new measure and apply it to potential nuclear catastrophes. With the help of Stephens Institute of Technology researcher Alex Wellerstein’s Nukemap, we can model the approximate results of a hit on a target city by a nuclear warhead of choice. The largest bomb tested by Pakistan—which has a yield equal to 45 kilotons of TNT—would kill 358,350 people and injure 1.28 million, if used in an airburst over Delhi. But there would almost certainly be many more injuries; almost four million people live within the 7 kilometre radius in which the detonation would break glass windows and create other “light” blast effects—which actually are not light and would cause major injuries. If Russia launched one of its nuclear-armed, 800-kiloton Topol missiles against NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, 536,180 people would die and 572,830 would be injured. If a 5,000-kiloton Chinese Deng Fong-5 missile reaches Brussels, 839,550 will die and another 876,260 people will be seriously injured. Belgium’s 1,900 ICU beds (minus those of Brussels and surroundings, which would of course be instantly destroyed or rendered unusable) could not begin to cope with a humanitarian disaster of this magnitude. And what if more than one nuclear warhead explodes? What about a nuclear war that produces dozens or hundreds of nuclear explosions?

No society is prepared for such a man-made disaster. Worse, no society can ever be prepared for such a scenario. Nevertheless, many nations (including our home countries of Belgium and Australia) base their defense policies on the threat that the United States will use nuclear weapons in their defense, if necessary.

We cannot predict when and with what ferocity the next global pandemic will hit. But we can be certain that Covid-19 will not be the last pandemic disease to afflict humanity, and we should be making preparations to forestall such a disaster. We also cannot predict when and where nuclear weapons will be used again, and by whom. But we can be grimly confident that a nuclear warhead will be detonated someday, somewhere, if not by choice and design, then inadvertently, through accidental launch, rogue launch, or system failure.

Nuclear deterrence has proven itself to be anything but foolproof. Syria and Egypt attacked Israel in 1973, even though the Jewish state possessed nuclear weapons; in 1991, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein also disregarded Israel’s nuclear arsenal, firing Scud missiles at Tel Aviv. Argentina attacked the nuclear-armed UK in the Falkland Islands war. India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers, fought the Kargil war in 1999 (more than 1,000 people died) and had a dog-fight in February last year. We would not call these conflicts—any one of which might have resulted in the use of nuclear weapons—expressions of security or stability. A policy based on hope and luck (as US Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara described the conduct of the Cuban Missile Crisis) cannot be the basis of a serious defense policy.

What is the probability of a nuclear war or simply the explosion of a single nuclear weapon? Certainly it is more than zero. And the probability seems to be rising rather than falling. If US President Donald Trump does not extend New START by the end of this year, for the first time in 50 years the world will end up without any bilateral arms control treaty that includes verification. The nuclear-armed countries have not negotiated one new arms control treaty since 2010. North Korea now has nuclear weapons, and Iran may be the next in line.

The world is facing a clear threat of an “outbreak” of nuclear weapons proliferation.

As of now, there are no treatments or preventive measures that work against the new coronavirus circling the world. But a “vaccine” against nuclear weapons use already exists— the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, often known simply as the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty. Unfortunately, despite their legal obligations under Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the five nuclear weapon states and their allies, and also the four nuclear armed states outside the NPT, are refusing to take the prophylactic medication the ban treaty prescribes. The nuclear weapon “haves” refuse to give up their nuclear privileges, even though they promised to do so under the NPT. The US alone will spend $50 billion this year on the maintenance and modernisation of nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

Doctors know better. They know that they won’t be of any help in a nuclear war. That is why the World Medical Association stands behind the Nuclear Ban Treaty since 2018. The same for the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the International Council of Nurses, and International Red Cross.

The world has experienced epidemics and pandemics before. It suffered but endured. The coronavirus pandemic too shall pass, and life will go on. But the world is unlikely to return to the pre-pandemic state of affairs. Countries will rebuild domestic manufacturing capacity for critical medical supplies and equipment and create institutional structures to manage a surge in ICU capacity for future epidemiological crises. They will rebuild some vital border protections. And they will build functional redundancy into global supply chains to reduce exposure to single points of critical supply.

But such measures will not work as preparations against a nuclear war; no infrastructure, no matter how sophisticated or extensive, could cope with the horrible injury toll. Using ICU beds as a new norm informs us that no after-the-fact response to a nuclear bomb explosion can work. So prevention in the form of the Ban Treaty vaccine must be universally administered. In the post-pandemic world, therefore, eliminating nuclear weapons must be a top priority of the utmost urgency.

  The Authors      

Tom Sauer is an Associate Professor in international politics at the Universiteit Antwerpen in Belgium. Sauer is a former fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He received the 2019 Rotary International Alumni Global Service Award.

Ramesh Thakur is Emeritus Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy and Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Australian National University; Senior Research Fellow with the Toda Peace Institute; and a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General.

  Toda Peace Institute    

The Toda Peace Institute is an independent, nonpartisan institute committed to advancing a more just and peaceful world through policy-oriented peace research and practice. The Institute commissions evidence-based research, convenes multi-track and multi-disciplinary problem-solving workshops and seminars, and promotes dialogue across ethnic, cultural, religious and political divides. It catalyses practical, policy-oriented conversations between theoretical experts, practitioners, policymakers and civil society leaders in order to discern innovative and creative solutions to the major problems confronting the world in the twenty-first century (see www.toda.org for more information).

Notes: 1. This article was first published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 28 April 2010 https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/how-many-intensive-care-beds-will-a-nuclear-weapon-explosion-require/

Contact Us

Toda Peace Institute
Samon Eleven Bldg. 5th Floor
3-1 Samon-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0017, Japan Email: contact@toda.org

CNWC Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau: “Make nuclear arms control and disarmament a national priority”

Dear Prime Minister:
Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, supported by more than 1,000 recipients of the Order of Canada, write once again to urge you and your Government to make nuclear arms control and disarmament a national priority. In this letter, we make specific suggestions, notably that Canada work diligently toward achieving an international consensus to save the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at its Review Conference in 2020….. [continue reading: CNWC Letter to Prime Minister.Jan22-2020]

Project Save the World

Project Save the World is sponsored by Peace Magazine. PStW posts a new hour-long video discussion every Monday at 8:00 pm EDT on Peace Magazine’s Facebook page, YouTube, and at their website, http://tosavetheworld.ca. You can endorse the Platform for Survival, 25 public policy proposals to reduce the risk of six threats to humankind. Each soundtrack is available as an audio podcast on iTunes, Spotify, and other sites, as well as on their website.  PStW has 82 talk shows, as of October 2019:  PDF list of shows with links

Below you can find the episodes that relate to Nuclear Weapons and disarmament.  Please follow the above links to see what content is available.

Continue reading “Project Save the World”

Lettre ouverte au Premier ministre Justin Trudeau

PDF  En & Fr

Le désarmement nucléaire: une forte position canadienne requise

Lettre ouverte au Premier ministre Justin Trudeau
cc. Membres du Parlement et sénateurs

le 15 mai 2019

Cher Premier Ministre,

Le risque grandissant de catastrophe nucléaire nécessite une urgente action de prévention. Car considérons les développements récents :

  • détérioration marquée des relations Est/Ouest, en particulier entre la Russie et l’OTAN;
  • retrait américain de l’entente nucléaire avec l’Iran;
  • retrait imminent des États-Unis et de la Russie du Traité des Armes Nucléaires à portée Intermédiaire (INF);
  • possibilité réduite d’arriver en 2021 au renouvellement du New START;
  • tension accrue entre deux pays nucléarisés, l’Inde et le Pakistan;
  • possible résurgence du programme nucléaire de la Corée du Nord;
  • risque grandissant de voir l’Arabie saoudite et/ou d’autres états s’armer de bombes nucléaires;
  • développement de bombes nucléaires tactiques et de systèmes de missiles hypersoniques;
  • vulnérabilité grandissante face à des cyber-attaques;
  • risque de voir des bombes nucléaires ou du matériel radioactif tomber entre les mains d’acteurs non-étatiques.

Ceci survient dans le contexte d’une nouvelle course à l’armement nucléaire, précipitée en grande partie par l’allocation américaine de $1.5 mille milliards pour ‘moderniser’ son arsenal nucléaire dans les prochains trente ans.

Le Bulletin des Savants Atomiques vient de régler son horloge de la fin du monde à minuit moins deux minutes, l’échéance la plus rapprochée depuis le pire moment de la Guerre Froide. L’humanité fait face à une réelle possibilité qu’à chaque moment, une folie humaine, un mauvais calcul ou un accident nucléaire puisse mettre fin à la vie sur terre ou même à la planète elle-même.

Le Canada est en position d’aider à empêcher cela.

Comme vous le savez, au début des années 80, votre père s’était personnellement engagé dans une campagne internationale de « suffocation » des armes nucléaires; et au cours des années récentes, nos parlementaires de toutes allégeances ont fortement appuyé ce genre d’actions. En 2010, une motion a reçu l’appui unanime de tous les membres du Parlement canadien (Sénat et Chambre des Communes):

« incitant le gouvernement du Canada à participer aux négociations en vue d’une Convention sur la sécurité  nucléaire…  et  à  mettre  en  œuvre  une  importante initiative diplomatique canadienne à l’échelle mondiale en prévention de  la  prolifération nucléaire et en accroissement du taux de désarmement nucléaire. »

Le 18 juin 2018, le Comité permanent de la Défense nationale de la Chambre des Communes a fait la recommandation suivante, appuyée par tous les partis:

« Que le Gouvernement du Canada exerce un rôle de leadership à l’intérieur de l’OTAN pour commencer le travail nécessaire à réussir la volonté de l’OTAN de créer les conditions pour un monde libre d’armes nucléaires…

 Et pourtant le Canada a travaillé en marge des problématiques et a boycotté les négociations qui ont mené au Traité de Prohibition des Armes Nucléaires (TPNW), une percée historique appuyée à l’Assemblée Générale de l’ONU du 7 juillet 2017 par cent vingt-deux autres nations.

Membre du G7, du G20 et de l’OTAN, ainsi qu’allié constant des Nations-Unies, le Canada pourrait faire bien davantage.

Le monde a désespérément besoin d’un ‘champion’ en désarmement nucléaire – un leader national qui, jouissant d’une position privilégiée, lui permettra de jouer un rôle déterminant auprès du Secrétaire général des Nations-Unies – pour inciter fortement les pays dotés d’armes nucléaires de renverser l’actuelle course à l’armement nucléaire en renouvelant et en raffermissant leur adhésion aux traités INF et new START, en signant et en ratifiant le Traité de Prohibition des Armes Nucléaires, ou en négociant une nouvelle et complémentaire Convention de Sécurité Nucléaire en état d’accomplir le but ultime – une dénucléarisation mondiale.

Nous croyons que vous pourriez être cette personne, monsieur le Premier Ministre.

Car nous avons espoir que vous seriez en mesure de mener la cause du désarmement nucléaire mondial, comme vous aviez bien entrepris en 2015 celle de la lutte au changement climatique -, l’autre grande menace à notre existence.

Le temps presse et les enjeux sont immenses.

Veuillez agréer cette expression de nos sentiments sincères,

Earl Turcotte, Président, Réseau canadien pour l’abolition de l’arme nucléaire (CNANW)

co-signataires :

Hon. Douglas Roche OC, Président fondateur du Le Réseau canadien pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires

Beverley J. Tollefson Delong, ex-Présidente, Le Réseau canadien pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires

Paul Meyer, Président, Les Conférences Pugwash Canada

Normand Beaudet, Fondateur, Centre de Ressources sur la Non-Violence

Roy Culpepper, Président, Groupe des 78

André Michel, Président-national, Les Artistes pour la Paix Jonathan Down, Co-Président, Médecins pour la Survie Mondiale Pascale Frémond, Présidente, Religions pour la Paix

Peggy Mason, Présidente, Institut Rideau

Rob Acheson, Président, Comité sur les armes nucléaires, Science pour la Paix

Kathryn White, Présidente et Directrice Générale, Association canadienne pour les Nations Unies

Fergus Watt, Directeur exécutif, Mouvement fédéraliste mondial – Canada

Lettre: dangers des armes nucléaires

“Le Réseau canadien pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires et le Rassemblement canadien pour une convention sur les armes nucléaires s’adressent à vous et à votre gouvernement, en cette crise nucléaire mondiale qui s’intensifie chaque jour, pour vous presser de faire de la désescalade de crise et d’une diplomatie persistante et intensifiée en matière de désarmement, une priorité nationale.”

Final.Letter to Prime Minister.Eng.091118 (in English)

Final.Letter to Prime Minister.Fr.091118 (en français)

Who we are

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) was established in 1996 by representatives of national organizations that share the conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral and should be abolished. We believe that Canada should lead in working for their early abolition. CNANW’s nineteen member organizations include faith communities, professional groups, peace and women’s organizations — all of whom work in various ways for nuclear abolition. We endorse the following statement:

“We believe that the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons are abhorrent and morally wrong. We call on the Government of Canada to work urgently with other nations to conclude a Convention which will set out a binding timetable for the abolition of all nuclear weapons in the world.”

CNANW and its members do work to educate the public, and conduct seminars, consultations and meetings with the public, officials and politicians in Canada and abroad. All this work is with the purpose of advancing the cause of nuclear disarmament and moving the world toward abolition of nuclear weapons.

Member Groups

Traité INF: lettre à l’Honorable Chrystia Freeland

L’Honorable Chrystia Freeland
Département des Affaires Globales
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0G2

25 octobre 2018

Chère madame la ministre,

Nous vous adressons respectueusement cette lettre qui a pour objet de vous inciter fortement, ainsi que le gouvernement du Canada, à vous objecter publiquement de façon persistante au récent plan de l’Administration Trump de se retirer du Traité USA-Russie concernant les forces nucléaires de portée intermédiaire (INF) et à lancer un appel à maintenir et à revitaliser le contrôle international sur les armes nucléaires et leur prolifération en vue d’un désarmement.

Si nous sommes parfaitement au courant des accusations de Washington envers les violations russes du Traité, nous observons, comme l’a fait un rapport récent de recherches du Congrès américain, que la Russie a de son côté identifié trois programmes militaires américains en cours ou en planification en violation du Traité. La façon de résoudre de telles accusations n’est certes pas en abandonnant des traités d’importance historique, gagnés de haute lutte, tels que l’INF. Nous prions donc le Gouvernement du Canada de se joindre à ses alliés européens pour insister que les États-Unis et la Russie aplanissent leurs différents à une table de négociation en respectant les clauses de désarmement du Traité de non-prolifération. Selon les termes employés par le Ministre des Affaires étrangères de l’Allemagne Heiko Maas, il y va de notre responsabilité collective de ne ménager aucun effort afin de ramener Washington et Moscou à cette table.

La menace d’abrogation du Traité INF repousse le monde vers un danger de basculer. Tous les pays possédant des armes nucléaires étant déjà embarqués dans des programmes coûteux et déstabilisants de “modernisation”, nous craignons que si l’Administration Trump abandonne ce Traité sans une forte réaction négative de la part d’alliés tel que le Canada, il pourrait aussi abandonner le Traité New Start (dont l’expiration sera en février 2021, à moins que les États-Unis et la Russie le prolongent). Cette éventualité mettrait un terme à toute restriction formelle sur les programmes d’armes nucléaires et enclencherait une impensable accélération périlleuse des courses à l’arme nucléaire déjà en cours. Nous vous implorons, ainsi que le gouvernement du Canada, d’agir de toute urgence et avec persistance pour revenir à la pénible mais prudente et incessante tâche diplomatique en vue du contrôle des armes nucléaires et de leur désarmement.

Sincèrement,

Murray Thomson, OC
David Silcox, CM
Douglas Roche, OC
Ernie Regehr, OC
Président du comité directeur du CNWC
Cesar Jaramillo
Bev Delong
Adele Buckley

Cc: Le Très Honorable Justin Trudeau, Premier ministre
L’Honorable Andrew Scheer, chef de l’Opposition et du Parti Conservateur
Jagmeet Singh, chef du Nouveau Parti Démocratique
Elizabeth May, cheffe du Parti Vert
L’Honorable Peter Harder, représentant le gouvernement au Sénat
Membres du Comité Permanent de la Chambre des Communes pour les Affaires étrangères et le Développement international

INF Treaty: letter to Chrystia Freeland

October 25, 2018

The Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Global Affairs Canada
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0G2

Dear Minister Freeland,

We write to strongly urge you and your Government to publicly and persistently object to the Trump Administration’s plan to withdraw from the US-Russian Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and to call for maintaining and revitalizing the international nuclear arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament regime.

We are well aware of US charges that Russia is in violation of the Treaty, and we also note, as has a recent US Congressional Research Report, that Russia has identified three current and planned US military programs that it charges are or will be in violation of the Treaty. The way to resolve these serious charges is not by abandoning hard won, and in the case of the INF, historically important Treaties. We thus urge the Government of Canada to join with its European allies to insist that the United States and Russia resolve their differences at the negotiating table and by honoring their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. As the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, has put it, it is our collective responsibility to leave “no stone unturned in the effort to bring Washington and Moscow back to the table…”

The threatened abrogation of the INF Treaty pushes the world toward a dangerous tipping point. All states with nuclear weapons are already embarked on expensive and destabilizing “modernization” programs. We fear that if the Trump Administration proceeds with abandoning this Treaty without major push back from allies like Canada, it will also abandon the New START Treaty (which will expire in February 2021 if the US and Russia do not extend it). That would end all formal restraints on nuclear weapons programs and would lead to an unthinkably perilous acceleration of the nuclear arms races that are already underway.

We implore you and the Government of Canada to act with urgency and persistence and to stand for a return to the careful, painstaking, and unrelenting diplomacy of nuclear arms control and disarmament.

Sincerely,
Murray Thomson, OC
David Silcox, CM
Douglas Roche, OC
Ernie Regehr, OC
Chair, CNWC Steering Committee
Cesar Jaramillo
Bev Delong
Adele Buckley
Cc: The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister
The Hon. Andrew Scheer, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Conservative Party
Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the New Democratic Party
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party
Rhéal Fortin, Interim Leader of the Bloc Québécoisbr>
The Hon. Peter Harder, the Government’s representative in the Senate
Members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development

Workshop ‘Canadian Leadership on Nuclear Disarmament’ October 2018

Workshop presented by Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) and Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC)

Rapporteur’s Report

Jessica West, Project Ploughshares: October 2018

Overview

The workshop “Canadian Leadership for Nuclear Disarmament” jointly hosted by the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) and Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC) brought together civil society and academic experts with Canadian government representatives to dissect the current nuclear weapons context and identify opportunities for civil society engagement and Canadian government leadership on disarmament and non-proliferation.

Key points from the discussion emphasize the coalescence of crisis and opportunity:

  • We face a global nuclear crisis that threatens to undo years of progress on non-proliferation and disarmament and risks nuclear escalation and confrontation;
  • NATO’s nuclear posture is an affront to disarmament and contributes to this crisis;
  • Current Government of Canada positions on NATO and the Treaty on the Prevention of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) are complicit in this crisis;
  • Canada has previously played a positive role in advancing peace and disarmament internationally;
  • Canada’s emphasis on a feminist foreign policy and desire for greater international prominence including a seat at the UN Security Council provide an opportunity to encourage renewed leadership;
  • There is a desire from both civil society and Parliamentarians for Canada to resume a leadership position on nuclear disarmament, not least within NATO;
  • Better relations with Russia are critical for progress on both non-proliferation and disarmament;
  • Practical options are available to initiate change in NATO’s nuclear posture and reduce tensions with Russia;
  • Civil society is critical for both maintaining pressure on governments and as a source of guidance and knowledge;
  • To raise the public profile of nuclear abolition, current civil society efforts must reach more broadly to engage new movements and issues with which we share common interests in peace, survival, and an alternative future.

The current moment is urgent. The new nuclear arms race, involving “modernization” in all arsenals and new nuclear use doctrines, risk a nuclear confrontation as well as long-term damage to disarmament efforts. At the same time, shifting international power structures create new opportunities for leadership toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Part I: A Nuclear Inflection Point

The keynote address by Joe Cirincioni – President of the Ploughshares Fund in the United States – titled “Nuclear Insecurity in the Age of Trump and Putin” outlined the current crisis that defines the contemporary strategic context in which nuclear weapons are situated.

The parameters of this crisis are threefold:

  • Danger on the Korean peninsula
  • Growing confrontation between the United States and Iran
  • Renewed nuclear arms race among nuclear weapons states

While the security situation on the Korean peninsula has shifted toward unprecedented diplomacy and seems to be giving way to a new security dynamic, Cirincioni stressed that it is not clear if this progress will continue in the absence of robust political encouragement and support. In contrast, the relationship between Iran and the United States continues to deteriorate. The US Administration’s withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to inspect Iranian nuclear facilities and prevent its pursuit of nuclear weapons includes sanctions on firms and allies who engage in legal business practices with the regime. Moreover, the demands being made of Iran are described as an unconditional surrender. Not only are diplomatic paths to peace being closed, but there is a strong potential for direct confrontation through mutual presence and competing interests on the ground in Syria, which could unintentionally escalate.

The ability to contain these two non-proliferation crises is compromised by a crisis of disarmament among nuclear weapons states. Nuclear capabilities and delivery systems are being modernized and military doctrines revised in such a way that their use is slipping from an unthinkable, strategic deterrent to a useable, tactical weapon of limited warfare. This is dangerous. Not only does it risk catastrophic escalation, but the basic compromise that facilitated non-proliferation – the promise of disarmament – faces a death knell. The steady path of nuclear reductions over the past three decades has halted and been replaced with re-armament. Cirincioni describes this as an inflection point: once it gets going, it will be very difficult to turn back.

This sentiment is echoed by Ambassador Paul Meyer from The Simons Foundation, who equated the contemporary arms race between the world’s nuclear superpowers to the strategic standoff of the 1970s and ’80s. Emphasizing previous Canadian leadership under Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Meyer described his “strategy of suffocation,” which proposed to cut off the oxygen feeding nuclear armament by banning warhead testing, ending test flights of warhead delivery vehicles, prohibiting further fissile materials production, and cutting spending on nuclear weapons. The earlier Prime Minister Trudeau was willing to expend political capital to challenge dominant security dynamics in pursuit of peace through reasoned policy alternatives.

Calling on Canada to move from “inertia to initiative,” Meyer offered the following recommendations:

  • Voice concern that a new nuclear arms race is emerging and that it brings unacceptable risks for the international community;
  • Reject the excuse that arms control and disarmament cannot progress because we have a difficult international environment with which to contend;
  • Call for a prompt return to a US-Russia strategic dialogue and preservation of existing arms control and disarmament agreements;
  • Acknowledge that the NPT is under threat, including from wide-spread weapons modernization programs, and recognize that the multilateral disarmament foreseen by this treaty requires concrete expression;
  • Pursue leadership on a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) by seeking to obtain UN General Assembly authorization for a multilateral negotiation of such a treaty;
  • Resist efforts to extend earthly conflict into outer space by once again advocating the nonweaponisation of this domain;
  • Embrace a recommitment to multilateral disarmament diplomacy and re-invest in the resources required to support this.

Discussion emphasized opportunities and constraints for non-US leadership on nuclear disarmament, particularly by allies within NATO. Noting current tensions within the Alliance and ebbing American leadership, there is a sensed opportunity for members to break with the Alliance on nuclear issues, particularly if encouraged to do so. Similarly, the current crisis in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) process presents an opportunity for other countries to step forward and lead on this issue. The success of the Nuclear Ban Treaty speaks to this opening. Canada’s bid for a UN Security Council seat is noted as a chance to exert influence.

Part II: NATO’S “supreme guarantee”

Focused on the role of NATO in the elimination of nuclear weapons, the second panel sought to elucidate the constraints that it imposes on disarmament and its role in the current nuclear crisis while identifying opportunities for Canada to advance disarmament from within the Alliance. All speakers emphasized the critical need for re-engagement with Russia.

Ernie Regehr, with The Simons Foundation and the Centre for Peace Advancement, pointed out that NATO does not itself have nuclear weapons and that NATO’s status as a nuclear weapons alliance is based on the willingness of individual Alliance members with nuclear weapons (or those with US nuclear weapons on their soil by virtue of nuclear sharing) to make their capabilities available for collective operations. In this context NATO’s Strategic Concept communicates the circumstances under which use of nuclear weapons might be considered. The Brussels Summit Declaration issued after the meeting of the North Atlantic Council 11-12 July 2018 included a fulsome defence of nuclear weapons as the “supreme guarantee of the security of allies.” Further, there is growing allusion to the potential for nuclear weapons use in a variety of situations including in response to conventional attack and in a preemptive first strike, which must be understood in the context of weapons modernization programs and entrenching nuclear sharing within Europe

The idea that nuclear weapons of unlimited destructive capacity could be the foundation of security is, quite simply, offensive, particularly as the Alliance also continues to claim that it seeks to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.

Regehr offered the following recommendations to move once again toward détente with Russia as a means of reducing the role of nuclear weapons in national and alliance defence policies:

  • Adopt realistic language to limit the roleof nuclear weapons and highlight the commitment to a world without nuclear weapons, replacing language that characterizes weapons of massive destructive capacity as a supreme guarantee of security;
  • Commit to no first use of nuclear weapons;
  • Repatriate all B61 bombs to the US;
  • Refrain from acquiring dual capable aircraft by non-nuclear weapons states;
  • Pursue missile defence cooperation with Russia;
  • Reinvest in NATO-Russia dialogue and diplomatic engagement

Peggy Mason, President of the Rideau Institute and former Ambassador for Disarmament, presented the recommendations of the all-party, unanimous report submitted by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence in June 2018 regarding Canada and NATO. Recommendation 21 included a welcome call for the government to “…take a leadership role within NATO in beginning the work necessary for achieving the NATO goal of creating the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons.” Emphasizing the urgency of this issue, the report called attention to several of the points raised by disarmament experts including the renewed risk of nuclear proliferation, potential deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, and changes in nuclear doctrines to lower the threshold of use. The report is a welcome sign of political consensus, and a testament to the influence of civil society, on a specific policy option that could contribute to gradual nuclear disarmament.

Ms. Mason further underscored key themes emerging from the day’s discussion, such as global dissatisfaction with stagnant disarmament trends, and the contrast between previous Canadian leadership and contemporary inaction, including boycotting of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Tom Sauer from the University of Antwerp in Belgium addressed the divergence of European civil society perspectives from the actions of NATO member states with regards to the TPNW. On the one hand, opinion polls show that most Europeans are against the presence of nuclear weapons in Europe and favour signing the Treaty. However, the issue is not adequately discussed or debated at a public level. Secrecy and lack of transparency on behalf of NATO make it difficult for both journalists and activists to engage the issue, and this limits the impact of peace movements.

Within NATO, it is clear that members are reluctant to lead efforts to change the Alliance’s nuclear posture, or to deviate from one another in other disarmament fora.

And yet leadership and change are possible. For example, the Netherlands is the only NATO member to have participated in the TPNW process, which itself was not anticipated just a few years ago. And while the Treaty may not eliminate nuclear weapons quickly, it is essential for stigmatizing their use – particularly in the current crisis – and stimulating new debate within civil society.

Discussion re-iterated the need for engagement on nuclear disarmament, diplomatically within NATO and with Russia, as well as by civil society and journalists. The Artic was raised as an example of how a security community can be created around shared interests.

Part III: Political Disengagement

Limited participation on the parliamentary panel “Canadian Leadership on Nuclear Disarmament” illustrated the current political climate of disengagement with nuclear disarmament. All major Canadian political parties were invited to present their positions. The NDP’s Agricultural Critic, the Hon. Alistair MacGregor, (substituting for the Party Foreign Policy spokesperson who was travelling) was the only person to participate directly. Noting that his party has long opposed nuclear weapons, he asserted that it was a strong proponent of Recommendation 21 within the Standing Committee’s report. MacGregor further questioned how Canada can be “back” while simultaneously failing to participate in the most important disarmament negotiations in years, and pointed to a shift in stance by the Liberal party from its time in opposition.

The Hon. Doug Roche read a statement provided by the current Government of Canada in response to a petition filed on behalf of constituents regarding the TPNW. It emphasized the government’s actions to advance disarmament and its commitment to a pragmatic pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons that takes into account the current security environment. In this environment, the government does not believe that the Treaty will be effective in achieving nuclear disarmament and does not intend to sign the treaty. Instead, its diplomatic efforts are to focus on inclusive measures that unite nuclear and non-nuclear armed states in common goals, specifically the pursuit of a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

A statement submitted by Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party of Canada, congratulated Setsuko Thurlow on her Nobel recognition for her contributions to the TPNW and the work of the CNANW, referring to the current situation as an “apocalyptic age.”

Discussion reiterated the importance of civil society expertise and advocacy, which Parliamentarians rely on for research and guidance. It was also noted that civil society should urge Parliamentarians to join the Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Network (PNND).

Part IV: The Way Forward

Mr. Cirincione addressed the final session on “Next Steps for Nuclear Abolition,” outlining the approach of the Ploughshares Fund to, first prevent the worst from happening, and then to build the world that we would like to see. This approach involves engaging politicians now to help them develop policies prior to future elections, finding ways to support positive goals set by the current Administration – including peace with North Korea – and supporting the next generation of civil society leadership on non-proliferation and disarmament. Calling ICAN “a flare that goes up in the night,” he cautioned that the current disarmament effort will not be able to rely on a mass anti-nuclear movement for change, but instead must build ties between nuclear disarmament and other mass movements of today. For example, cross-cutting feminist and environmental movements likewise question existing power dynamics and strive for an alternative future.

The remainder of the session was used to reflect on the learnings of the day and to share ideas for future work.

Returning to Recommendation 21 of the report by the Standing Committee on National Defence regarding NATO and the elimination of nuclear weapons, several speakers emphasized writing to the government prior to the release of its official response, both to express support and to raise questions about how disarmament processes might be raised within various bodies of the Alliance. It was noted that this might be a fruitful avenue for Canadian leadership in the context of its bid for a seat at the UN Security Council.

Conversation also explored options for engaging Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) in steps toward disarmament. It was noted that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution on fissile materials negotiation in 2016 was supported by 159 states, including three yes votes from NWS and two abstentions. In this context, the Government of Canada continues to prioritize efforts to bring NWS around the table and to create space for dialogue on the issue of a FMCT. Others urged the UNGA First Committee meetings and the NPT Review Conference as opportunities for leadership. The importance of continued Canadian support for the JCPOA was emphasized.

From a civil society perspective, the re-institution of the annual civil society consultation on arms control and disarmament by Global Affairs Canada is viewed as a positive step. The opportunity for additional civil society engagement with the government through its feminist foreign policy and the newly created position of Ambassador for Women, Peace, and Security was noted with cautious optimism, so that the core value of peace within feminism is emphasized. Work to this effect is currently being done by the Canadian Women, Peace and Security Network.

Overall, there is a recognition of a David v. Goliath moment. Disarmament advocates are outgunned (no pun intended) and underfunded. Within civil society, we need to raise funds and raise our voices, build new relationships, and foster creativity in our efforts to advance a world free of nuclear weapons. The need is urgent.

PDF download

The above report is also available as PDF (6 pp): “Canadian Leadership on Nuclear Disarmament” Seminar