“To maintain strategic stability, we look forward to immediate action to extend the New START Treaty for 5 years. At the same time, we are concerned by the deterioration of the European security situation in recent years.” Read on.
Geneva (ICRC) – Millennials see catastrophic war as a real likelihood in their lifetime. In fact, most millennials surveyed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) believe it is more likely than not that a nuclear attack will occur in the next decade.
“To understand the extent of Canada’s retreat from staunch defender of meaningful steps towards increased nuclear restraint and eventual disarmament to the shocking role of U.S. nuclear weapons apologist, it is necessary to review the position of Canada in the context of the NPT and NATO.” (Peggy Mason is President of the Rideau Institute.)
Download pdf here: From nuclear disarmament stalwart to nuclear weapons apologist
Workshop presented by Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) and Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention (CNWC)
Jessica West, Project Ploughshares: October 2018
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.
The above report is also available as PDF (6 pp): “Canadian Leadership on Nuclear Disarmament” Seminar
The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW)
Energizing Action by Canada to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Monday, September 25, 2017
Cartier Hotel, Ottawa
Welcome, and time of remembrance: Bev Delong, Chairperson, CNANW
Chairperson: Debbie Grisdale, Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention
Ambassador Elayne Whyte-Gómez, Costa Rica, President, Conference negotiating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
Forward Steps in Nuclear Disarmament:
Chairperson: Douglas Roche O.C.
“Diplomatic Reflections at this Historic Moment”,
Mr. Michael Hurley, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Ireland to Canada
“Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty: Transparency and Risk Reduction”,
Mr. Tariq Rauf, Head – Verification and Security Policy Coordination, Office reporting to the Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, 2002-2011; Alternate Head of IAEA NPT Delegation.
Moderator: Dr. Adele Buckley, Canadian Pugwash Group
Alyn Ware: “2018 UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament”
Canadian Government Views on next steps to Nuclear Disarmament:
Chairperson: Peggy Mason, Rideau Institute
Mr. Martin Larose, Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, Global Affairs Canada
Ms. Cori Anderson, Deputy Director of Strategic Analysis, Department of National Defence: here
1st Discussant: Mr. Paul Meyer, Adjunct Professor, Simon Fraser University; Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation; former Ambassador for Disarmament
Report of Proceedings: August 15, 2017
Halifax, Nova Scotia, July 23-25, 2017
Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW)
Building Momentum for Nuclear Disarmament
October 24, 2016, Cartier Place Suite Hotel, Ottawa
Panel: Canada: Between NATO and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
Chairperson: Dr. Nancy Covington, Physicians for Global Survival and VOW.
Mr. Marius Grinius, former Ambassador for Disarmament [Presentation here]
Representative, Department of National Defence (invited)
Prof. Erika Simpson, Dept. of Political Science, University of Western Ontario [Presentation here]
Panel: Partnering with Russia for Nuclear Disarmament
Chairperson – Mr. Earl Turcotte, Group of 78
Dr. Metta Spencer, President, Science for Peace [Presentation here]
Dr. Joan DeBardeleben, Chancellor’s Professor, Institute of European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa [Presentation here soon]
Prof. Sergei Plekhanov, Dept. of Political Science, York University
Panel: Nuclear Disarmament: Diplomatic Options
Chairperson: Ms. Janis Alton, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace
Mr. Bernhard Faustenhammer, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Austria.
Ms. Heidi Hulan, Director General, International Security Policy, Global Affairs Canada,
Prof. Paul Meyer, former Ambassador for Disarmament, Adjunct Professor, School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University and Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation. [Presentation here]
Panel: The Crisis with Nuclear Weapons: Parliamentary & Civil Society Responses
Chairperson: Ms. Maddie Webb, Canadian Federation of University Women
Mr. Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentarians for Nuclear NonProliferation and Disarmament (PNND)d (by skype)
Mr. Paul Dewar, Member, Global Council, PNND; former Canadian Member of Parliament. [Presentation here]
Ms. Peggy Mason, President, The Rideau Institute; former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament [Presentation here soon]
Mr. Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director, Project Ploughshares.
The reality of a new Government in Canada provides a new opportunity for CNANW to make an impact on the development of Canada’s nuclear weapons policies. Building on the unanimous motion of Parliament adopted in 2010 to support the UN Secretary General’s Five Point Plan for Nuclear Disarmament and take a major diplomatic initiative to advance nuclear disarmament objectives, the Seminar explored Canadian action concerning the Humanitarian Pledge and development of effective legal measures for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
Ottawa, November 30, 2015
Tarja Cronberg and Tariq Rauf
Seminar Program: linked here
Keynote Address by Tarja Cronberg: “Creating the Framework for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World” (linked here)
Keynote Luncheon Address by Dr. Tariq Rauf: “Challenges for Canada’s Nuclear Weapons Policies” (linked here)
Panel: “The Moral Compass and the Humanitarian Pledge”
Mr. Bernhard Faustenhammer: “Progress on, and Plans for Pursuing the Humanitarian Pledge”
Prof. Paul Meyer: “After the Humanitarian Pledge, What?” (linked here)
Panel: “Securing a Nuclear Weapons-Free World: Creating and retaining the replacement regime”
Biographies of panelists (linked here)
Dr. H. Peter Langille: “Sustainable Common Security” (linked here)
Dr. Walter Dorn: “Peacekeeping”
Prof. Peter Jones: “Track Two Diplomacy”
Panel: “Political and Legal Steps: New Initiatives for Canada”
Hon. Douglas Roche: “Political and Legal Steps: New Initiatives for Canada” (linked here)
Earl Turcotte: (linked here)
Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) Meeting
May 13 and 14, 2014
Representatives of 10 of the CNANW’s member groups met in Ottawa for a lively update on recent progress and a highly informed discussion on the proposals for legal options with respect to nuclear weapons.
Paul Dewar, M.P., recently elected Global Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND), joined us to provide a briefing on recent work of that group. He had participated in the recent Annual Assembly of PNND in Washington in February 25-27, 2014. We are pleased to hear of the appointment of two new CoChairpersons of PNND Canada, Linda Duncan, M.P. (NDP) and Blaine Calkins, M.P. (Cons.) both Albertans. Mr. Dewar encouraged us to continue with education of the public and of MPs through direct meetings and especially fora such as the Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs and National Defence.
Good news was shared of an Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) resolution from the March 20, 2014 meeting that involved representatives of 160 Parliaments. Blaine Calkins M.P. of Canada worked for this resolution called Toward a Nuclear Weapon Free World: The Contribution of Parliaments. One of the recommendations was that “parliaments urge their governments to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or on a package of agreements to help achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.” PNND are exploring through national conferences how to implement the resolution. Hedy Fry M.P. is working through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to support PNND initiatives.
The people of the Marshall Islands are suing all nine nuclear-armed states. Background on the case and information for the media is available from Nuclear Age Peace Foundation as linked on this quite incredible David and Goliath case. We need to determine if CNANW (or its individual member groups will endorse the action, and identify any other ways Canadians can support the action. There is a possibility that individual affirmations might be filed with the court. The court has yet to determine the process.
We received briefings on the recent NPT PrepCom meeting and the Nayarit, Mexico meeting on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.
We are pleased to note that there are now over 750 Order of Canada members supporting Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.
CNANW is aiming primarily to communicate to the public and the government our deep concern over the need for Nuclear Weapons Convention by organizing activities
1) for Hiroshima/Nagasaki commemorations on Aug. 6 and 9th
2) then during the period September 21 (International Day for Peace) and September 26 (International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons). Project Ploughshares is willing to continue to upload worship resources for all faith groups at its website so that faith communities across Canada can have materials to use for either the International Day of Peace or the International Day for the Total Elimination for Nuclear Weapons. We hope to encourage observance of these days in all faith groups.
Thereafter we will focus on preparation for the NPT Review Conference in the spring of 2015 and the spring or fall federal election.
Our lengthiest discussion was on the Ban Treaty proposal. We had the benefit of highly informed input from three former Ambassadors for Disarmament and several other very senior experts with experience with treaty negotiations. The Ban Treaty proponents are calling for a legal instrument setting out a prohibition against use, possession (etc.) of nuclear weapons. But that instrument will not set out a process for verified elimination of nuclear weapons since this would require buy-in from nuclear-dependent states, which have made it clear that they consider it “premature”. The anticipated Nuclear Weapons Convention will call for both prohibitions and a process of verified elimination of nuclear weapons. A paper was circulated in advance setting out the implications of the Ban Treaty proposal for our work. Concern was expressed about the Ban Treaty being redundant, likely to divert scarce NGO time and resources, likely to cause confusion, and possibly disillusionment among the public. Others argued that the Ban Treaty proposal would not only engage the public and provide a tool for progress, but might support the longstanding pursuit of a NWC, which seems impossible to achieve in the current state of affairs.
The meeting accepted a proposal that 1) CNANW should take the position that the ban treaty could encourage progress toward a multilateral treaty with specific timelines for nuclear disarmament. 2) While individual CNANW member groups may choose to emphasize a Ban Treaty or the NWC, they are encouraged to be informed on implications of their options to practice “truth in advocacy” in public education and to clarify what process and results are being sought (thus, a ban with or without the elimination of nuclear weapons). 3) As a network, CNANW will continue to focus on a Nuclear Weapons Convention. 4) Activists are encouraged to call on all states to comply with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, recognizing that the prohibitions and safeguards it creates are restricting the spread of nuclear weapons.
Congratulations to Doug Roche on the launch of his new book Peacemakers: How People Around the World Are Building a World Free of War.
For more information on the work of CNANW, please contact Bev Delon at bevdelong [at] shaw.ca
The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons met on Oct. 19, 2012 in Ottawa on the 50th Anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This report is written to provide you with the key lessons from the meeting.
What are the lessons of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis for Iran and the value of pursuing urgent negotiations on nuclear disarmament? The analysis presented by Prof. Erika Simpson of the Department of Political Science at Western University explained some of the ‘new lessons’ revisionists are putting forward concerning the Cuban missile crisis fifty years later, now that the historical records and transcripts are being fully revealed. It discussed the implications of these sorts of ‘lessons’ for ‘realists’–who continue to support nuclear deterrence– and ‘idealists’ who counsel urgent nuclear disarmament. Then Prof. Simpson considered the implications of all these types of lessons for the present-day stand-off between Iran and the rest of the international community, especially the United States and Israel, for deterrence and arms control negotiations. She argued that the principal lesson of the Cuban missile crisis, interpreted fifty years later, is that disarmament negotiations need to be urgently pursued now, not during or in the wake of a similar nuclear crisis besetting the world.
In a comment from the floor, Dr. Walter Dorn of Canadian Forces College advised that research in the UN archives that he and Robert Pauk have completed has shown that President Kennedy in fact was fearful during the Cuban Missile Crisis that his actions might trigger a nuclear war. He sought the assistance of UN Secretary General U Thant to mediate and this mediation occurred successfully. Contrary to frequent reports of the crisis, Krushchev did not “blink” but rather engaged with U Thant in a deal under which the Soviet Union would withdraw its navy in exchange for the US withdrawing its missiles from Turkey.
Of concern to the group was the recent announcement by the Government of Canada of the closure of the Canadian Embassy in Iran. Senator Roche, Chairperson of the Middle Powers Initiative questioned “what would have happened during the Cuban Missile Crisis if the Kennedy Administration had broken diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union when the US discovered Soviet missile sites in Cuba?” He stressed that international security is not served by breaking relations with Iran. He also queried Canada tolerating nuclear weapons in the hands of Israel, India and Pakistan but objecting to Iran. We need strong diplomacy toward nuclear disarmament if we want to influence world security.
Mr. Paul Dewar, the NDP Foreign Affairs Critic, reported on his recent trip to Kazakhstan as part of a delegation from Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. He said most of them were unaware of the human suffering resulting in that area due to the legacy of Soviet nuclear testing in Semipalitinsk. During his visit on August 29th, thousands of people were out to line the streets to observe somberly the International Day Against Nuclear Testing. Mr. Dewar was shocked to see volumes of detailed records in Russian setting out the medical results of the testing. Recently people have become much more aware of the 2nd and 3rd generational effects of nuclear testing and the extraordinary toll this is having on the lives and health of people living in Kazakhstan, as well as in other locations where nuclear explosions have occurred such as Japan, the Marshall Islands, and in Tahiti and Muroroa in the Pacific.
Both Mr. Dewar and Mr. Alyn Ware, the Global Coordinator for PNND, spoke on the PNND Parliamentarians statement being circulated to encourage parliamentarians to consider a proposal for a Middle East Zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction as a diplomatic and even-handed route toward a more peaceful Middle East. Alyn Ware highlighted the powerful role played by the process of establishing nuclear weapon-free zones in the Antarctic, Latin America, the South Pacific, South East Asia, Africa, Mongolia, and most recently Kazakhstan along with 4 of their “stan” neighbours. (For further information, check the NWFZs website located at
Climate modeling research conducted by Toon and Roebuck in the US concludes that waiting for a crisis for the start of nuclear negotiations could cause a calamity, for even a small exchange of 100 nuclear weapons between India and Pakistan or in the Middle East might result in climate change resulting in global famine. (See “Local Nuclear War, Global Suffering”, Scientific American, December, 2009.
So what then are some of the lessons in 2012 from the Cuban missile crisis, considered by many to have been the most dangerous time in our history? What then have we learned over the past 60 years that teaches us about our security today?
First, the nuclear threat still remains as there are still approximately 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world. Of these, about 2,000 are on alert, operationally ready be used in under 30 minutes.
Second, the world can be placed at extraordinary risk due to political games leading to military brinkmanship. Those involved may have serious misperceptions about the facts of the situation and the motives of other parties. Do not assume that leaders will be rational actors during a crisis.
Third, we need to ensure that the UN Secretary General’s capacity to offer his or her good offices remains strong.
Fourth, If we wish to retain a capacity to save humanity and the environment, we need to retain diplomatic lines of communication with other states. You might contact the Prime Minister your MP and encourage them to reconsider the decision to close the Canadian Embassy in Iran, reminding of the great value of diplomacy for nonviolent solutions in instances of political challenges.
Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, we cannot wait for this to happen. We must demand negotiations on nuclear disarmament now.
What else can be done? The Canadian Senate and Parliament in 2010 passed unanimously an historic motion to:
- “encourage the Government of Canada to deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament;”
Despite repeated requests and petitions, no such initiative has been deployed by the Government of Canada. Concerned Canadians are encouraged to contact their MP and inquire what they are doing to encourage negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons. Likewise, Members of Parliament can be urged to consider realistic options for peace in the Middle East and then invited to sign the Joint Parliamentary Statement for a Middle East Free from Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction available in English or French.
March 26, 2012
Session 1: NPT Preparatory Committee Meeting 2012: Opportunities? Challenges?
Chairperson: Ms. Peggy Mason
Summary of this session: 2012 RT NPT.doc; 2012 RT NPT.pages
Opening Statement: Ms. Isabelle Roy, Director, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Division, DFAIT: RoyMarch26.docx
Panel Responding: The Hon. Doug Roche O.C., Acting Chairperson, Middle Powers Initiative (MPI): RocheMar26.doc and RocheMar26.doc.odt
and Mr. Cesar Jaramillo, Program Officer, Project Ploughshares
Rapporteur: Dr. Anna Jaikaran, Science for Peace
Session 2: Iran and the Nuclear Question
Chairperson: Mr. Fergus Watt, World Federalist Movement – Canada
Panel: Mr. Paul Heinbecker, CIGI Distinguished Fellow: RTIranSession final.doc and RTIranSessionfinal.pages
and Prof. Peter Jones, University of Ottawa: JonesMarch26.doc and JonesMarch26.pages
Rapporteur: Mr. Cesar Jaramillo, Project Ploughshares
Session 3: International Humanitarian Law and Nuclear Weapons: Progress made; Work ahead?
Chairperson: Ms. Janis Alton, Voice of Women
Speaker: Mr. Ilario Maiolo, Senior Legal Advisor, Canadian Red Cross: MaioloMarch26
Panel: Mr. Robin Collins, World Federalist Movement-Canada: CollinsMarch26.doc
and Ms. Debbie Grisdale, CNANW: GrisdaleMarch26.rtf
Rapporteur: Dr. Richard Denton, Physicians for Global Survival (PGS)
Session 4: Next steps for CNANW member groups
Chairpersons: The Hon. Doug Roche O.C. and Ms. Bev Delong
Notes circulated among CNANW member groups
April 11-12, 2011
Brittany Salon, Cartier Place Suite Hotel, 180 Cooper Street, Ottawa, ON
Summary Report: Toward a Nuclear Weapons Convention: A Role for Canada (pdf in english)
April 11: “Implementing the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament”
Program: [here: pdf]
Keynote Speaker: H.E. Ambassador Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, U.N. High Representative for Disarmament “Implementing the UN Secretary-General’s Five Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament” [here: pdf]
Chairpersons: The Hon. Douglas J. Roche O.C., Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and Mr. Ernie Regehr, O.C., Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo
- Ambassador Werner Brandstetter, Embassy of Austria [here: pdf]
- Counsellor Julian Juarez, Embassy of Mexico [here: pdf]
- Mr. Nicolas Brühl, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Switzerland [here: pdf]
- Mr. Clive Wright, Head of Foreign Policy Team, British High Commission, Ottawa [here: pdf]
Acknowledgements: We express our sincere gratitude to the sponsors of this seminar: Canadian Network toAbolish Nuclear Weapons, Canadian Pugwash Group, Physicians for Global Survival,Project Ploughshares, and World Federalist Movement – Canada.
April 12: “Experts’ Seminar”
Agenda: [here: pdf]
Theme: The Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference took note of the UNSecretary-General’s Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament, which proposes, inter alia, “consideration of negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention or agreement on a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a strong system ofverification.”
This seminar is being held to develop a broadly shared understanding of the mainelements and requirements for a global convention to prohibit nuclear weapons; to buildCanadian capacity in the expert and disarmament advocacy community on key issues linkedto advancing the global movement toward a nuclear weapons convention; and to engage theGovernment of Canada to encourage early and concrete support for working toward aNuclear Weapons Convention.
Legal Aspects of a Nuclear Weapons Convention
Elements of a legal architecture for a nuclear weapons prohibition/framework of agreements.Implications of an International Humanitarian Law approach to progress on NWC
Chairperson: Dr. Erika Simpson, Department of Political Science, University of Western Ontario and Vice-Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group
Speakers : Dr. John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy [here: pdf] Dr. Michael Byers, Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law,Department of Political Science, University of British Columbia [here: pdf]
Verification and Compliance Aspects of a Nuclear Weapons Convention
Chairperson: Ms. Peggy Mason, former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament and Advisory BoardChair, Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance, Carleton University
Speakers: Dr. Trevor Findlay, Director, Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance [here: pptx (original) pdf] Mr. Jo Sletbak, Minister Counsellor/Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy [here: pdf]
Chairperson: Ms. Bev Delong, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Guest Speaker: H.E. Ambassador Richard Butler, A.C., Chairperson, Middle Powers Initiative [here: pdf]
Political and Security Requirements for a Nuclear Weapons Convention
How can security relationships be used as stepping stones toward a NWC?Delegitimizing Nuclear Weapons through Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones, and Nuclear Doctrines
Chairperson: The Honourable Landon Pearson, O.C., member, Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention
Speakers: Mr. Ernie Regehr, O.C., Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies,Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo; Fellow, The Simons Foundation [here: pdf] Mr. Simon Rosenblum, World Federalist Movement – Canada [here: pdf]
Roundtable on the Role of Canada
Chairperson: Dr. Adele Buckley, Past Chair, Canadian Pugwash Group
Speakers: Mr. Paul Meyer, former Ambassador for Disarmament; Fellow in International Security,Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University; Senior Fellow, The Simons Foundation [here: pdf] The Honourable Douglas J. Roche, O.C., former Ambassador for Disarmament [here: pdf]
Organizing committee:The Honourable Douglas J. Roche, O.C.Mr. Ernie Regehr, O.C.Dr. Dale Dewar, Executive Director, Physicians for Global SurvivalDr. Trevor Findlay, Executive Director, Canadian Centre for Treaty ComplianceMr. Fergus Watt, Executive Director, World Federalists Movement – CanadaMr. Cesar Jaramillo, Program Associate, Project PloughsharesMs. Bev Tollefson Delong, Chairperson, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Advisors: Amb. (Ret.) Paul Meyer, Mr. Murray Thomson, O.C. and the late Dr. Michael WallaceAdministrative support: Project Ploughshares
Sponsors: Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Canadian Pugwash Group,Physicians for Global Survival, Project Ploughshares, World Federalist Movement – Canada
Funders: Canadian Pugwash Group, Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, Lawyersfor Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, Project Ploughshares, Science for Peace,Sisters of Service of Canada, anonymous donor.
January 25-26 2010, Ottawa
Canada Should Support Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons:
News Release (January 21): in english [.doc] [.pdf]
Le Canada devrait appuyer un traité d’interdiction des armes nucléaires:
Communiqué 27 janvier 2010: en français [.doc] [.pdf]
Conference Program: [pdf]
Related Documents and websites:
Paul Meyer: Saving the NPT: Time to Renew Treaty Commitments
The Nonproliferation Review, Volume 16, Number 3 [link]
Middle Powers Initiative (MPI): website
Conference Co-sponsors: Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW)
Canadian Pugwash Group (CPG)
Physicians for Global Survival (PGS)
World Federalist Movement-Canada (WFM-C)
Summary report of 2005 consultations
(Bev Delong, chair of CNANW): see below
Consultation presentations and discussion were offered on the basis of “non-attribution”. Below are linked those presentations and documents subsequently made available for circulation.
Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Issues, including NPT Review Conference
Chair: Sarah Estabrooks, Project Ploughshares
Discussant: Debbie Grisdale, Physicians for Global Survival – https://cnanw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/grisdale2005.doc
Nuclear Challenges and New Non-Proliferation Mechanisms
Chair: Paul Buteux, University of Manitoba
Discussant: Patricia Willis, Pacific Campaign for Disarmament & Security – https://cnanw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/willis2005.doc;
Noth East Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Briefing (pdf); Model Treaty (doc)
Missile Proliferation, Controls and Defences
Chair: Jean-Francois Rioux, St. Paul University
Discussant: Ernie Regehr, Project Ploughshares – https://cnanw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/regehr2005.doc
Global Partnership Program
Chair: Ms. Angela Bogdan, FAC
Discussant: Donald Avery, University of Western Ontario – https://cnanw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/avery2005.doc; wpd
Discussant: Robin Collins, World Federalist Movement – Canada – https://cnanw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/collins2005.doc; pdf
Weapons of Mass Destruction: Verification and Compliance
Discussant: Bev Delong, Lawyers for Social Responsibility – https://cnanw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/delong2005.doc; wpd
Chair: Debbie Grisdale, Physicians for Global Survival
Discussant: Steve Staples, Polaris Institute – https://cnanw.ca/wp-content/uploads/2006/02/staples2005.pdf
NACD Challenges and Opportunities over the next 6 months
Discussant: Erika Simpson, Pugwash Canada – click to contact author
REPORT ON GOVERNMENT CIVIL SOCIETY CONSULTATIONS ON INTERNATIONAL SECURITY, NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND OTHER WMD AND THEIR DELIVERY SYSTEMS,
MARCH 8 & 9, 2005, OTTAWA
A number of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were invited to the Government Consultations held in Ottawa March 8 and 9th, 2005. Below please find a rough summary of some of the major learnings from that process. Some of the NGO papers will soon be available to you on the CNANW website: www.abolishnuclearweapons.org
1. GOVERNMENT COMMENTS ON THE 2000 NPT REVIEW CONFERENCE
The government is feeling quite anxious about the upcoming NPT Review Conference. The words “very grave challenges” and “unprecedented stresses” were used. They seek a balanced outcome that would reaffirm with tangible supporting actions the three core pillars of the treatys essential bargain (Non-proliferation, Disarmament, Peaceful Uses).
The Review Conference comes at a time when the United States is trying to deny the political authority, even the existence, of the “13 Practical Steps” which arose out of the year 2000 Review Conference Final Agreement. The Canadian Government’s tack is to encourage states not to undermine the Final Agreement, noting it is a slippery slope if you do so because the rest of the 2000 and 1995 agreements (including the extension of the Treaty in 1995) might be at risk. These are agreed standards and progress against an agreed framework is important. (An NGO later commented that a change in government does not justify a state in walking away from its commitments or cherry picking through the steps to choose which ones to adhere to.)
At this point in time there is no agenda for the meeting and there are concerns that it may conclude without any type of consensus statement. In anticipation of this, the Canadian delegation may try to make progress on specific key institutional changes that would strengthen the regime. The NPT now has no secretariat, holds a decision-making meeting only every 5 years, has no capacity to call an emergency gathering to deal with problems such as North Korea’s (DPRK) withdrawal from the NPT, nor to even read the reports filed by countries. They are proposing substantive reform to the NPT regime by responding to these problems possibly through a set of specific decisions calling for:
a. annual meetings
b. the creation of a bureau of Ambassadors empowered to work between sessions and in particular, able to call for emergency sessions
c. capacity for emergency sessions to deal with urgent threats to the treaty, such as a proposed withdrawal from the treaty, using peer pressure and concerted diplomatic action.
d. annual reporting process where states report on all activities taken in support of the Treaty
e. enhanced role for civil society, noting their capacity to educate the public on the NPT and provide expert advice to government delegations on NPT issues.
The government is looking forward to reports from states on their activities toward the elimination of nuclear weapons (Article VI). They are also looking at the recent proposals with respect to the nuclear fuel cycle coming from Dr. El Baradei, Director of the IAEA, the IAEA’s panel of experts on multinational control of the nuclear fuel cycle and President Bush. There will be discussion of the need to make the IAEA’s model Additional Protocol (the AP), the current standard for safeguards to ensure that the IAEA can verify adherence to the NPT. And there will discussion of the need to make the “right” to nuclear power under Article IV conditional on adherence to the other articles of the NPT.
2. NGO COMMENTS ON THE 2000 NPT REVIEW CONFERENCE
NGOs noted the risks posed by nuclear weapons and expressed concern about the US plans for bunker busters, more rapid ability to test weapons, and more relaxed policies on resort to use of nuclear weapons. One NGO wondered whether we should be seeking a ban on research on nuclear weapons for offensive use as occurs under the Chemical and Biological Conventions. Some of the NGO demands on the government for action during the NPT Review Conference included requests that they call for:
a) urgent steps to take nw off high alert and off launch on warning
b) the creation of a subsidiary body to the Conference on Disarmament that would at least discuss the elimination of nuclear weapons,
c) the establishment of a negotiating body for a treaty to deal with fissile materials;
d) strengthening the institutional underpinnings of the treaty to make it more responsive and sustainable
e) all states to avoid backsliding on the agreements reached at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences and
f) increased ngo access to the meetings (see below).
We asked if statements would be made calling for transparency and verification on the Moscow Treaty.
RE: NGO Access to Rev Con: There seemed to be some consensus between government and ngo that the access gained to the working groups last year might be lost if civil society pressed for this access to be formalized. Perhaps it is better simply to assume the practice will be maintained…
Debbie requested that Canada make available its public statement in advance of the NPT Review Conference. “Canada’s Approach to the 2005 NPT Review Conference” is now online for your review.
En francais: http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/arms/nptoverview-fr.asp
The government was asked to make available briefing materials and regular updates for the public, parliamentarians and the media to increase support for the activities of the Canadian delegation.
RE: NGO efforts toward the Rev. Con. The government was advised that NGOs are trying to educate the public and show support for the Review Conference by seeking signatures on Declarations, and encouraging Canadian parliamentarians, Mayors and regular citizens to attend the meetings.
3. NE ASIA SECURITY
An update was given on NE Asia with a call to consider responding to the problems with DPRK through the creation of a NE Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone including Japan and the two Koreas. A model Treaty on the Northeast Asian NWFZ is being circulated among scholars and governments to seek their comments. For further information on this contact Patti Willis <firstname.lastname@example.org> <mailto:email@example.com>
4. NATO AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Erika Simpson presented a paper entitled “NACD [Non-Proliferation, Arms Control and Disarmament] Challenges and opportunities over the next six months”. For a copy, kindly contact Erika directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Erika expressed concern about U.S. moves toward a pre-emptive first-strike strategy that promises to retaliate with nuclear weapons, even in the event of a limited chemical or biological attack. She called for the re-opening of NATO’s paragraph 32 review to determine what NATO’s current policy is toward the use of nuclear weapons.
To respond to the NATO problems, Canada might work to strengthen the moderate middle of non-nuclear weapon states in the UN and NATO. It will be especially important to do so over the next six months because there could be a significant weakening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Some European Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are calling for the removal of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons based in Europe. But Dr. Karel Koster, one of the foremost proponents of this proposal, has noted that a withdrawal would not necessarily result in a far-reaching change in nuclear doctrine of ‘extended deterrence, that is, the use of nuclear weapons by certain NATO members to defend other non-nuclear states against attack. In what circumstances would NATO use nuclear weapons? Are threats of nuclear use credible? How can NATO states call for other nations to remain nuclear-free if the US continues to insist on developing new warheads? Do as I say, not as I do is never a very compelling argument. What alternative strategies are there for building security? Some ideas might include better-verified treaties; well-funded inspection regimes; cutting-edge technologies; more-effective sanctions; and enhanced control over fissile materials. For this reason, the proposals put forward in the Atlanta II consultation report by the Middle Powers Initiative bear close study.
We were advised that the figure of 480 bombs in Europe as recently reported by the Natural Resources Defense Council in the US was vastly overstated and that the true figure is much lower – but the figure is classified and not available to us.
Concern was strongly expressed about Canadian engagement in NATO Nuclear Planning and we received a surprising response that the NATO Nuclear Planning Group does not plan nuclear use…..We will pursue this information.
5. CANADA AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS
Proposals were made for the Government of Canada to:
a) increase public education at home and abroad on nuclear weapons risks,
b) organize an opnw.org website (in anticipation of the eventual creation of the Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, c) pass domestic legislation protecting whistleblowers and
d) create model national legislation that would end Canadian involvement in nuclear weapons use.
e) call for NATO nuclear policies to be compliant with international law; failing that, to cease participation in the NATO Nuclear Planning Group.
6. CANADA AND THE GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP PROGRAMME
We received an update on progress from the government on their contribution of funding and staff to the Global Partnership Programme (GPP). Their website has a wealth of information on their activities:
The funding allocated to this work is quite trivial. Note that the US spent $5.5 Trillion on nuclear weapons between 1948 and 1996. Last year, close to $40 billion was spent on nuclear weapons. By comparison, from 1992 to 2004 (13 years) the US spent only $9.2 billion on the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program. One must question whether the Nuclear Weapons States are serious in their commitment to secure and disarm nuclear arsenals. These programs face constant threats from the US administration of cuts to their funding despite knowledge that terrorist access to these arsenals is a significant threat to global security. It is therefore critical for Canada and likeminded states to be vigilant and to expand this real disarmament effort. Robin Collins believes that Canada’s work on the Global Partnership Program is an excellent initiative which reduces the threat of terrorist access to weapons of mass destruction. He suggests that Canada could expand its capacity by finding or leveraging significant increases in immediate funding, broadening outreach to win over new partners, and supporting civil society feed-in. However, without achievement on the disarmament front, the GPP effort may be tossed to the side by competing nuclear re-armament agendas.
7. BMD DECISION
Many of the NGOs have commended the government on the BMD decision, stating it has earned us “diplomatic capital”. Ernie Regehr has done an excellent paper outlining the upcoming arms control needs that flow from US deployment of the BMD system:
a) agreed international limits on ballistic missile interceptors consistent with stated “limited defence” objectives
b) a ban on anti-satellite weapons testing and deployment; and
c) a ban on testing and deployment of weapons in space.
8. SPACE SECURITY
The cooperants in the Space Security Index project updated us on their 2003 survey now available at http://spacesecurity.org/ for further information on this project, please contact Bob Lawson at DFAIT or Sarah Estabrooks at Ploughshares.
9. VERIFICATION of WMD
There is significant concern with US moves to dismantle UNMOVIC for it has achieved considerable success in organizing experts and a reliable procedure to verifying the absence of nuclear weapons in Iraq. Some are now studying the possibility of retaining their learnings and their list of experts so that the UN would have a permanent independent verification unit.
The International Security Research Outreach Program (ISROP) has organized two major papers on verification as the Canadian contribution to the Blix Commission. One was written by Trevor Findlay and associates at VERTIC in London. The second involved a survey, conference calls and a seminar among verification experts to consider the current challenges and responses thereto where considering verification of chemical, biological and nuclear treaties. These papers can be found at: www.wmdcommission.org <http://www.wmdcommission.org>
Compliance management has emerged as a much-needed discipline and happily they were able to report that Dr. Trevor Findlay has been hired to begin a Compliance Management Project based in the Norman Patterson School for International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University. They will review past responses to failures to comply and try to develop a “tool kit” for use in future instances of noncompliance.
Reported by Bev Delong, Chairperson, CNANW with help from Robin Collins, Erika Simpson and Patti Willis.
Presentations and Documents Submitted to the
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade on Disarmament Issues (2004)
Bev Delong, President, Lawyers for Social Responsibility: here (rtf)
Présentation Devant le Comité Permanent des Affaires Étrangères et du Commerce International sur les Questions de Désarmement: ici (doc)
Debbie Grisdale, Executive Director, Physicians for Global Survival (Canada): here (doc)
Déclaration sur le désarmement nucléaire, la politique de l’OTAN et les églises (2001): ici (doc)
Les Églises pressent l’OTAN d’éliminer au plus tôt les armes nucléaires (1999): ici (pdf)
Déclaration du comité executif du coe sur le traite de non-proliferation nucléaire (tnp), 2004: ici (doc)
(Debbie Grisdale, Physicians for Global Survival)
Report #1 Day 1 – Monday April 26, 2004
The day began with the daily delegation meeting at the Canadian Mission. We are 12 people – a combination of DFAIT people (from Ottawa, NY,Vienna and Geneva), DND, the Nuclear Safety Commission and 2 NGO reps (Ernie Regehr of Project Ploughshares and myself). We went over the day’s events, assigned tasks and discussed preparations for the next few days.
The prep com sessions run from 10-1pm and 3-6pm. This first day was devoted to opening statements by countries, including Canada. The UK and China were the 2 nuclear weapon states to present today. Overall the statements are quite repetitive – on dangers of proliferation, need to strengthen the NPT, bring the CTBT into force, achieve fissile material cutoff treaty, rejuvenate the paralysed Conference on disarmament etc. I am struck by the huge amount of time and resources and paper that are devoted to statements and briefs – words by the thousands. So much of what is said is repetitive and it all seems so inefficient when there is so much to do. This is why I am not a diplomat!
Canada is presenting a 3 part package on
- greater NGO access to the NPT process,
- increased reporting by States on their progress toward compliance with NPT and
- addressing the ‘institutional deficit’ of the NPT by creating a standing body with annual general conference mechanism etc to make the NPT more responsive to problems and emergencies as they arise (e.g. DPRK withdrawa in 2003l from NPT). The 3 parts fit quite well together and complement each other.
Several countries expressed interest is looking more at this last idea on institutional strengthening, while the UK minced no words saying ‘The idea is that such measures would strengthen the NPT process. We disagree. ..,.” Our job over the next 2 weeks is to talk up the three notions and get other states and NGOs (not so difficult!) interested in them so the ideas can be further developed and make to the 2005 Review Conference.
At noon the Middle Powers Initiative held a standing-room-only panel on ‘Ensuring Full Implementation of the NPT’ with the New Zealand Minister of Disarmament (only country with Minister of Disarmament), Cdn Ambassador for Disarm. Paul Meyer, former Swedish Ambassador for Disarmament and Tariq Rauf (a Canadian) of IAEA. The room had many government representatives as well as NGOs. Canada is well regarded and certainly featured prominently in this roundtable which was introduced by Doug Roche. (Canada is one of the very few delegations with an NGO rep on it – let alone 2.)
There is, overall, a good turnout of NGOS here – 69 are registered. Tomorrow they will have the whole afternoon to make their 11 presentations to the plenary. A core group has been working on them for the last 6 weeks. Ron McCoy will present IPPNWs on the human face of NW. After tomorrow aft. the government sessions will be closed to NGOs.
It is pouring rain, good thing this hotel is only one block from the UN – perfect location. Will report again after a couple of days.
Report #2 from NPT PrepCom April 27-30 2004
Government Country Statements
On morning of the prepcom’s second day more countries gave their statements. Countries frequently mention the 3 “intertwined” pillars of the NPT — disarmanent, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. The room filled up as names on the list moved down to the US government’s turn. The US focused mostly on issues of treaty non-compliance and how to “devise ways to ensure full compliance with the Treaty’s non-proliferation objectives”. The US seems to feel they are in full compliance with Article VI of the treaty (which deals specifically with nuclear disarmament) and went so far as to hold a special closed briefing at a lunch hour to govts providing “hard evidence” about how they are in compliance. Several countries later, Iran spoke — reading their prepared statement saying after a year of verification by the IAEA there was no indication of diversion of nuclear technology from peaceful uses to a weapons program. Then they added another para to reply to the US accusations saying the US needs to come clean about its violation of the treaty and its proliferation activities. The US has targeted Iran repeatedly in their statements.
The government statements were extremely repetitive. Issues touched on by many countries include: the universal reaffirmation of support for the NPT and its three intertwined pillars; serious concerns about and the need to tackle non-proliferation and compliance (DPRK, Iran, Libya); the need for progress on disarmament; negative security assurances (NW states assurance to non-nuke states that they will not use NW on them — this is fundamental to NPT agreement); the need to deal with the proliferation of nuclear technology; the continuing CD impasse; the establishment of a nuclear weapon-free zone in the Middle East, the CTBT, the Additional Protocol and interest in the fuel cycle proposals. Many called for the PrepCom to make substantive, not only procedural, recommendations to the Review Conference. But to date, little progress is being made toward any substantive outcome from this prepcom.
On Tuesday afternoon 13 representatives from NGOs spoke to the plenary. There were several mayors, Sarah Estabrooks of Proj Ploughshares, Ron McCoy and a wonderful sight of a young German with bright fuschia hair. As the first several NGOs spoke, their directness in addressing the issues was a welcomed relief. The speeches ran long and took exactly the allotted 3 hours with no time for the hoped for Q+A. For details on NGOs recommendations see Report #3.
On Wed morning country statements were finally finished. For the afternoon session NGOs were no longer permitted on the conference room as has been the practice for the last number of years. They are allowed in for country statements only. Procedural issues were on the agenda — dates for next year’s review conference (May2-27), election of officers, agenda, rules of procedure etc. As countries debated the rules of procedure it was difficult to imagine how there could ever be agreement on an agenda, let alone anything of any substance. A number of issues were deferred — including a rule of procedure on NGO access to sessions.
Government Cluster&Mac226; Presentations
Over the next several days the governments delivered statements in what are called Clusters — of which there are 3 and deal with different aspects of the treaty -disarmament, nuclear safeguards and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. (These are supposedly different from their country statements but in actual fact go essentially over the same ground.)
The prepcom Chair (Indonesian Amb Sudjadnan) has kept a low key posture from the start, which is seen generously by some as exemplary of Indonesian subtletly, and by others as revealing a weak grasp of the process. It is believed by some that he is overly influenced by backroom sessions with the NWS, who are seeking a merely procedural outcome that does not attempt substantial recommendations. He did brief the NGOs at one of the early morning sessions.
NGO Access to Government Sessions
By Friday afternoon things had changed considerably for NGOs and they were permitted back into the “cluster” sessions The “cluster” sessions should finish Monday and it is not clear whether NGOs will be allowed to remain in during the remainder of the prepcom when, I believe and hope, there is more actual debate onn recommendations to go forward to the 2005 Review Conference.
Canada has been steadfast on NGO access and intervening on this issue whenever necessary. There are 2-3 other delegations with NGOs on them and so I have been asked a number of times by NGOs from other countries about how is it that Canada has one. I have been dividing my time between the govt sessions and the NGO panels.
The NGOs sessions are excellent, covering topics on missile proliferation, US weapons labs, civilian weapons inspectors, resolution of the crisis in the Korean Peninsula etc etc. One noon hour I went from a session by the UK government on their technical verification research program which also included outlining how they undertook mock inspections to a NGO session on “civilian weapons inspections” by representatives from churches and activist NGOs — the difference in the room was palpable in terms of personal engagement with the issue and the depth of the discussion. This holds true for most of the NGO sessions I have been to where they have very good presentations and information and are deeply aroused about nuclear disarmament and very frustrated with the lack of progress.
The question has been raised a number of times about how best to influence the government delegations and whether it is possible to do it here at the N. The answer that frequently comes back is that the work to be done is raising the awareness among civil society back home. For the Americans their first task is a change of president, but that is only the beginning. There was a very interesting presentation from Los Alamos Study Group on the social contract with nuclear weapons labs and the military in the state of New Mexico — the poorest state in the country, where 13% of the workforce is employed at the labs or in the military.
Over the weekend Abolition 2000 organized a town hall evening session on Friday, a rally on Sat (covered in the New York Times Metro section) and an all day general planning meeting on Sunday.
First thing this morning, Monday, Ambassador Meyer gave an “off the record” briefing to NGOs from the Canadian perspective.
The second week begins with the final slate of countries speaking on Cluster 1 issues — disarmament.
Report #3 from NPT Prepcom
Summary of Recommendations from NGO Statements to Plenary Session
Process of Developing the NGOs&Mac226; Statements
It took over 6 months of intensive brainstorming, debating, selecting and refining to get to these 13 statements. Not everyone is agreement on all points but the presentations reflect the NGOs “unquenchable desire for nuclear abolition” and “to rid the planet of nuclear weapons, verifiably and irreversibly”.
There were a number of Mayors or deputy mayors who participated in the presentation of the statements.
Vertical proliferation is defined as increases in the size of arsenals; the introduction of new weapons and new capabilities to arsenals including new means of delivery; and changes in the role of nuclear weapons in defense policy. All the nuclear weapon states are seen as proceeding with vertical proliferation programs that undermine the treaty.
Summary of Recommendations as presented:
- Convene a Summit meeting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation tasked with the creation of an International Nuclear Disarmament Organization with the appropriate political and legal authority and financial resources to eliminate all nw and monitor the nuclear-free status.
- Summit would be a prelude to the opening of negotiations on a Model NW Convention. * Establish clear timetable for the total abolition of nw no later that 2020, and negotiations should begin as of the 2005 NPT Review Conf on a phased program of incremental steps leading to the total elimination
- NPT States Parties should condemn all practices that violate the letter and spirit of the NPT inter alia preemptive nuclear strikes, development of new generations of NW
- disarmament of delivery systems and of warheads
- Let the radiation history of Indigenous peoples, hibakusha, downwinders, nuclear industry workers, community in the global south and elswhere be living history for all humanity let us learn from it and prevent history from repeating itself.
- to address the “disarmament deficit” and to avoid future reliance on the UNSC as a global lawmaker, revitalize the existing NBC-treaty regimes and create new multi-lateral agreements – on non-state actors, fissile materials, a biological weapons verification regime and more.
2. No new nuclear reactors
- Moratorium on building of new nuclear reactors and old ones close down.
- Transfer of funds from Export Credit Agencies and governments to an International Sustainable Energy Fund.
3. Implement and strengthen the NPT in a non-discriminatory manner that demands accountability
- consider development of a permanent NPT body and a UN-based inspectorate, drawing on UNMOVIC capabilities, to address concerns of suspected or confirmed horizontal proliferation within the NPT framework and thereby reinforcing it, similarly for addressing and halting vertical proliferation
- make common cause with BTWC and CWC in pursuit of mutually reinforcing systems for verification and enforcement
- reconfirm commitment to 13 Steps to ensure it remains a living document and use as means to assess progress and to plot future steps
- engage in broad and intensive discussions to acquire commitment to disarmament in 2005. NGOs are prepared to help in any way.
- NNWS are encouraged to cooperate through diplomatic alliances to propose progressive and concrete recommendations as unified voice.
4. Insist that international mean international
- Bring SORT into conformity with goal of NPT to achieve global disarmament under “strict and effective international control”
- NPT member states should send invitations for formal observers from Israel, India and Pakistan at the NPT prepcoms and Review Conferences, and develop mechanisms for giving them greater access to NPT deliberations
- Start negotiations immediately on a multilateral treaty banning shipment of NBC weapons
- excess weapon-grade fissile materials of the NWS must be brought under IAEA safeguards. Parts of the nuclear fuel cycle should be brought under multinational control and that export controls should be universalized.
- Revise withdrawal clause of the NPT and the method of convening States Parties to deal with disputes.
- Provide financial and political support to the safeguard and verification regime thereby supporting the IAEA in verification of peaceful nuclear activities.
- Create international controls on uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology through a multilateral agreement, as proposed by IAEA DG Mohamed ElBaradei
- International oversight on the UNSC resolution on non-proliferation is required
5. Enhance NGO Access
- Grant to NGO participants increased access to the proceedings, including fewer closed sessions allowing NGOs to attend cluster discussions and timely access to documentation.
6. Strengthen Member State Reporting
- All states parties must be held to higher standard of reporting on treaty compliance in order to strengthen this as transparency tool.
- Increase States’ participation in reporting before negotiating a standard format
7. Create an NPT Secretariat
- Establish Secretariat to prevent functions and responsibilities and institutional memory of NPT from either falling to wayside or being dealt with in ad hoc fashion
- Consider modeling on OCPW
8. Missiles, Missile Defences and Space Weapons: prevent an arms race
- stop testing missiles and missile defence systems
- initiate negotiations for an international treaty banning tests of ballistic missiles and of missile defence systems
- initiate negotiations for a global treaty banning ballistic missiles and missile defence systems
- any research, development, testing, building and deployment of weapons for use in space should be prohibited
9. Depleted Uranium
- NPT member states are urged to sponsor a General Assembly [resolution] condemning the use of DU weapons and uranium-tipped radiological weapons
References to Canada in NGO Statements
- “Australia and Japan have already decided to join US missile defence. Canada and the UK are in appropriate negotiations”
- We also applaud the latest Canadian efforts to develop a comprehensive approach seeking to integrate space security issues with the international community’s need for security and equitable access to space for peaceful purposes, which has recently been presented at a seminar in Geneva”
*Let us also ban all uranium mining in the First Nations of Canada and the United states, Australia, India and elsewhere that supplies the continuing global nuclear industry”.
- “inalienable right” under the NPT to nuclear materials for peaceful purposes is given to all NPT parties and implemented by other NNWS such as Japan, Canada, etc
The full NGO statements can be found at www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
NPT PrepCom Report #4 May 3-5 2004
On Tuesday afternoon after countries had an opportunity to finish the last of the “special time” sessions which was on “Safety and Security of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Programs” the chair announced the program for the remainder of the week. The product of the prepcom will be a Report of the meeting (on procedural issues, provisional agenda for the 2005 Review Conference, Draft Rules of Procedure etc) and an annex to it that contains the Chairman&Mac226;s Factual Summary. After discussing the procedural issues in plenary on Wed AM countries would have a chance on Wed afternoon to meet with the Chair and Vice-Chairs individually to “provide their views” on what should be in the Factual Summary. The draft Report with the procedural aspects would be available on Thurs AM and the draft of the Factual Summary on Friday AM. This was announced by the Chair with no written overview of this timetable provided and many countries remained confused about what the plan was. Even one of the Vice Chairs admitted after in a smaller meeting that she was not exactly sure what was in the Chair&Mac226;s mind.
On Wed AM discussion on the provisional agenda for the 2005 Review Conference (which is essentially the 2000 Review Conference’s agenda) hit a snag when Canada proposed that that the review should take into account not only the decision taken at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference but also the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference”. Sounds reasonable, the 13 Steps, a very important achievement, came out of the 2000 RevCon. Canada proposed it as simply a technical adjustment, an update, to the agenda not a substantive change. There followed a lengthy discussion in the plenary many countries supporting Canada but the US in particular unable to see any value in adding in 2000, another hour in a smaller group, a third session in the afternoon and still there is no agreement. Discussions on this “technical” and definitely “not political” point begin again today. These smaller group sessions are chaired by Canada&Mac226;s Ambassador Paul Meyer, doing an admirable job. Most of the countries support Canada&Mac226;s suggestion except the US and Russia and the UK. The UK suggested putting in the phrase “where appropriate”, until it was pointed out that this was “cherry picking”. Discsussion continue this morning.
The NGOs have daily briefings at 9AM by various delegations and delegates. Yesterday I meet with NGOs to talk about being “an NGO on the Canadian Delegation”. A number of NGOs are interested in knowing the background on the Canadian situation.
Below is the May 5,2004 editorial of the daily newspaper “News in Review”, put out by the financially struggling WILPF&Mac226;s Reaching Critical Will Project (NIR). It is ,handed out at the door of the conference room and read avidly by delegates. All the NIRs can be read at http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/legal/npt/nirindex.html
Playing Chess with Damocles
International relations have often been described as a complex game of chess, played on multiple boards simultaneously, wherein a decision on one board directly affects the strategies and opportunities on all the others.
Over the past week and a half that this PrepCom has been in session, the accuracy of this metaphor has been highlighted several times. First, the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) were given fresh impetus in their quest to frame the discussion on non-proliferation, rather than disarmament, when Security Council Resolution 1540 was passed last week. The resolution, as the News in Review has commented several times, struck a blow to the delicate balance between disarmament and nonproliferation by failing to reaffirm the intrinsic link between the two indivisible goals.
The multidimensional chess game was in full action yesterday at the UN as well, as the PrepCom devoted special time to Regional Issues while the “Quartet” – the UN, U.S., E.U., and Russia- met in a separate part of the building to discuss the tattered Road Map to peace in the Middle East.
Nearly a dozen States took the floor to call for Israel&Mac226;s accession to the treaty- the main obstacle in the creation of a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ)- and to reaffirm the urgency of universalization and the denuclearization of the volatile region. The United States, meanwhile, utilized the Special Time to once again accuse Iran of “serious violation of its NPTobligations.”
France, the only other Nuclear Weapon State to take the floor yesterday, heralded Security Council resolution 687 and the proposals from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and offered a “checklist” of conditions necessary to create a much needed “new regional security framework.” In order to achieve a NWFZ in the tumultuous region, France called for: an established dialogue amongst all parties; compliance with NPT commitments from the region&Mac226;s States Parties; cessation of arms and delivery systems proliferation; strict adherence to the NPT, CWC, BTWC, and the CTBT; adoption of Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and the placement of all facilities under IAEA monitors; the elimination of existing stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as their means of delivery; and more.
It could be argued that had the 1995 Review and Extension Conference not adopted the resolution on the Middle East as part of the “Package of Decisions” States Parties might not have been able to ascertain the indefinite extension that prolonged the treaty&Mac226;s lifespan. Although the resolution has yet to be implemented, it remains, as Kuwait remarked yesterday, “an integral part” of the international disarmament and nonproliferation regime.
The absence of further decisions on the Middle East at the 2000 Review Conference was entirely due to the possibility of the 13 Practical Steps. In 2000, Non Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) in the Middle East were temporarily content to relegate the region to the back burner in exchange for the “unequivocal undertaking” by the NWS to disarm. Now that the NWS have clearly reneged on that diplomatic achievement, the NNWS are duly determined to reprioritize the Middle East as a front issue for the NPT at the next Review.
While the Quartet deliberates how to reconcile Israel&Mac226;s proposed withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, States Parties trek back to their Missions to consider how the NPT can best address the crisis.
Neither framework is likely to discover a silver bullet in the next few days. But, as pawns and bishops scuttle across their separate boards, the nuclear sword of Damocles continues to loom over the Middle East and the entire world.
— Rhianna Tyson, Reaching Critical Will
For my Report #5 I am attaching below the report of veteran NPT watcher Rebecca Johnson. As she outlines, the whole process bizarrely and despairingly fizzled out at the end, at 8pm Friday May 7 – 2 hours past the scheduled closing. There no agreement on any substantive urgent issue. Any agreement that there was was on purely procedural items and even many of those items saw no agreement at all and so cannot go forward as official documentation from this prepcom to next year’s Review Conference.
Overall the experience was a good learning opportunity in many aspects, but it reinforced indelibly for me that any progress on nuclear disarmament will come as a result of civil society pressing for it.
Lots to be discussed at the Board meeting. See many of you then.
Date: Sat, 08 May 2004 15:00:43 +0100
From: Rebecca Johnson <email@example.com
Subject: NPT PrepCom crashes in disarray
Confusion and Anger as NPT Meeting Closes in New York
The Third Session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2005 Review Conference of the NPT closed in disarray around 8 pm Friday May 7, 2004, with adoption of only parts of its final report containing the most minimal agreements to enable the 2005 Review Conference to take place. States Parties were unable to take decisions on important issues such as the agenda and background documents, in large part because the US delegation was determined to oppose and minimise references to the consensus final document from the 2000 Review Conference, which had resulted in the ground-breaking 13-step plan of action on nuclear disarmament. The United States, actively abetted by France and Britain, with the other nuclear weapon states happy to go along, wanted to rewrite the NPT’s history by sidelining the 2000 Conference commitments, at which they had made an “unequivocal undertaking& to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals”. A majority of other states, by contrast, wanted the 2005 Review Conference to build on both the groundbreaking agreements from 2000 and the decisions and resolutions from the 1995 Review and Extension Conference.
The meeting, chaired by Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadinigrat of Indonesia, was expected to be difficult, but was made more so by the ideological US obstruction to anything that mentioned the CTBT or the 2000 agreements. The nonaligned states, frequently spearheaded by South Africa, a key player in both 1995 and 2000, refused to capitulate, though far too many of the western non nuclear weapon states appeared ready to roll belly up and settle for a lowest common denominator trade-off. Most notably, as the meeting went through its motions, a significant number of parties showed preference for ‘waiting out’ the problem, in the hope that time, further consultations and, most importantly, more constructive political circumstances (which many associated with possible regime change in the United States in November), might make consensus more reachable before the 2005 Conference opens.
Throughout the meeting, there was much stating of positions, but little stomach for confrontation or compromise. After two weeks of lacklustre debates, with much repetition and very few new ideas, the last day of the meeting turned into a bad-tempered shambles that ended in near farce, with a series of confused decisions taken without interpretation, with the majority speaking English but two delegations insisting on French. The PrepCom even failed to abide by its own rules whereby, if discussions have been held in closed session, the meeting is opened to the public for formal decisions to be properly taken.
Along with the rest of civil society, the Acronym Institute was outside the room throughout the long day, gleaning information from a series of frustrated delegates as they wandered back and forth for cigarettes or coffee. As debates went round and round in circles, messing up earlier agreements on access for nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), adding and subtracting words to slide just one outstanding – but importantly context-establishing – paragraph on the agenda past the US blockage, it was clear that many delegates, including, some complained, the Chair, had lost the plot. Their confusion about what they were doing even extended to the final decisions, as illustrated by contradictory reports of what occurred at the end.
President-Elect Ambassador Sergio Duarte of Brazil may have to wait some time before there is full clarity about what was decided and what he will have to do over the next year to create the conditions for the Review Conference to get to work in May 2005. Certainly, the PrepCom failed to agree any substantive recommendations and refused to annex the Chair’s summary of the meeting, which will be issued merely as a chair’s working paper, with no authority. The Chair’s summary, issued late on Thursday evening, was – as with its predecessors – challenged by several states, including the United States and Iran. Canada was angry that the summary had failed to mention initiatives on strengthening the Treaty’s enforcement mechanisms; there were complaints that text on nuclear energy and safeguards provided by the Vice Chairs had been ignored. Illustrating the difficulties of walking this Chair’s tightrope, the summary provoked grumbles from some states that it too closely resembled the chair’s summary issued by Ambassador Laszlo Molnar of Hungary the previous year, while others complained that it read like a NAM (non-aligned states) document, of which Indonesia is a prominent member.
As it turned out, however, the chair’s summary was little more than a sideshow, paling into insignificance as states parties realised they were in danger of not being able to take the necessary decisions to enable the 2005 Conference to be held. After much to-ing and fro-ing it appears that the disputed parts of the report dealing with the more fundamental issues of agenda, background documents and subsidiary bodies will now be turned into a chair’s working paper that will be forwarded together with the bare bones of a report that were agreed.
In view of the confusion and the lack of reliable documentation on the decisions, a more substantive analysis will be published by the Acronym Institute once the decisions have been clarified and the statements and documents have been further analysed.
The NPT PrepCom opened at the United Nations in New York on April 26, 2004, and ran for two weeks. The meeting was required to come up with recommendations for the 2005 Review Conference, but seemed just to go through the motions, managing only to adopt a timetable of work at the end of the first week. On Friday, April 30, the decision was taken to enable NGO representatives to attend and receive statements and documents from the so-called ‘cluster debates’, on the non-tranfer and acquisition of nuclear technologies and nuclear disarmament, safeguards, and nuclear energy for non-military purposes. The objections to the timetable centred on whether there should be ‘special time’ allocated to the issues of security assurances (in accordance with which the nuclear weapon states commit not to use nuclear weapons to attack states without nuclear weapons) and the Middle East.
It was finally decided to fold the security assurances discussion into a session devoted to consideration of the practical pursuit of nuclear disarmament measures, and to include the Middle East question in a session on regional issues. For ‘equity’ among the three ‘pillars’ of the NPT, it was also decided to devote a session to ‘the safety and security of peaceful nuclear programmes’. Symptomatic of the lack of real progress at this PrepCom, it turned out that many statements to these special sessions merely repeated, with slightly more detail or argument, on points already given in general debates.
As anticipated (see my Disarmament Diplomacy 76 article on “The NPT in 2004: Testing the Limits”), the main focus of interventions from the United States has been noncompliance by North Korea and Iran and the need for stricter measures to deal with NPT parties who use the Article IV provision on nuclear energy to fulfil nuclear weapon ambitions. At the same time a large number of states, including many US allies, highlighted the importance of fulfilment of disarmament obligations – with emphasis on core agreements such as the CTBT – while also raising concerns about new developments in nuclear weapons or doctrines. States lined up to support Additional Protocol, and suggestions were put forward for how to manage nuclear fuel cycle supply, restruct exports in sensitive technologies and materials and provide better institutional tools for states parties to strengthen the treaty’s implementation.
The General debate heard interventions from: Mexico on behalf of the New Agenda Coalition; New Zealand; Ireland on behalf of the European Union; China; Britain; Algeria; Mexico; Malaysia on behalf of the Group of Non-Aligned States Parties; Australia; Peru; Indonesia; South Africa; Egypt; Bangladesh; Republic of (South) Korea; Switzerland; Japan; Syria; Venezuela; Canada; Belarus; Kazakhstan; Bahamas and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The General Debate continued on Tuesday and Wednesday with statements from France; Brazil; the Holy See; the United States (John Bolton); Norway; Iran; Russia; Viet Nam; Burma/Myanmar; Cuba; Ukraine; Morocco; Egypt on behalf of the Arab Group; Nepal; Chile; Argentina; Serbia and Montenegro; Mongolia; Saudi Arabia; Kyrgyzstan; Cuba; Nigeria and Ecuador. As a result of the decision to open the cluster debates to NGOs, these statements are also obtainable from the website of reachingcriticalwill.org.
In one three hour session, the PrepCom was addressed by thirteen civil society representatives, including the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Senator Patrik Vankrunkelsven from Belgium, the Mayor of Kiev, Olexandr Omelchenko, the Hon Bill Perkins, the Deputy Majority Leader on New York City Council and attended by a host of others. The full texts of the NGO statements, as well as a daily news review with summaries of the many civil society panels held during the first week, are also available from reachingcriticalwill.org.
The 2005 Review Conference will be held from May 2 to 28. A fuller analysis of the third PrepCom will be published in Disarmament Diplomacy 77, due out in June.
Senior Advisor, Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy
24 Colvestone Crescent,
London E8 2LH,
tel: +44 (0) 20 7503 8857
mobile +44 (0) 77 333 60955 ron
Robin Collins: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION VERIFICATION AND COMPLIANCE ISSUES
Presentation by Robin Collins (World Federalist Movement-Canada) to the WMD/Nuclear Issues Consultations, February 2004
Background items inserted into the consultation package:
1. A list of BW and CW sources: http://cns.miis.edu/research/cbw/possess.htm;
2. CW types: http://www.fas.org/nuke/intro/cw/chem-table.htm;
3. NW arsenals of NW states: http://www.cdi.org/issues/nukef&f/database/nukearsenals.cfm;
4. Steve Fetter paper on verification of NW, for background reference: http://www.inesap.org/bulletin13/bulletin13.htm;
5. US State Department most recent listing of terror incidents: http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2002/html/19997.htm
From the last item, I draw your attention to the downward trend of terrorist incidents (as collected by the US state department), but remember also that numbers of incidents tell us little about the impact of any particular incident (9/11 for instance).
How far away are we from a comprehensive regime that integrates verification and compliance measures with criteria for enforcement that are better tuned than in the past?
Canada has done more than many in contributing to the development of international enforcement mechanisms and structures, such as the International Criminal Court structure, and in pursuing the Responsibility to Protect option. Efforts such as these bolster the development of any new process that also upholds the WMD verification and compliance regime(s).
However, when we look to an assessment of the verification and compliance processes associated with each WMD subgroup (nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, biological weapons, etc.), there are some non-trivial differences we have to recognize, and they are not entirely technical. For one thing the chemical weapons verification regime is considered one of the best in the business. But the biological and toxin weapons verification regime doesnt yet exist because of a lack of agreement on implementing a protocol for verification, let alone enforcement.
Chemical Weapons: Problem of ease of access to weapon materials
The ease by which CW components can be made accessible for purposes of weaponization is a significant worry. Where there is ease of manufacture, there will likely be complexity in verification. Many of the components found in chemical weapons are available and used for industrial processes. Thiodiglycol, for instance, a precursor for mustard gas, is also used to make the ink found in some ballpoint pens. But while chemical weapons are relatively easy to obtain and use, they are not as easily kept safely in stable condition. Nonetheless as with biological weapons, CW have been found by the US Army to be easily disseminated from ships near seaports, or subways and with crop duster aircraft an indication that their use and dispersal is possible with relatively low tech capability. Generally speaking, the threat of CW these days is thought to be primarily from terrorist groups; therefore, if the products are readily available, while the groups are unpredictable, irrational, and often indigenous, then no response is likely to be quick enough in many cases.
Large-scale production, on the other hand, was suspected, proved and halted in Iraq; this was possible because of the effectiveness of an international inspection regime, albeit, imposed in a coercive environment. We might argue about the nature of the coercion, but the capability for detection seems to have been credible and convincing.
Biological [and Toxin] Weapons (BTW): Difficult access, high risk, low frequency of use
In the very contemporary timeframe (not counting the recent ricin poison scare in the US Senate earlier this month), there are only three instances of terrorist bioweapon/toxin attacks or attempted attacks that are well documented. In 1984 a religious cult contaminated salad bars in their county in rural Oregon. 751 people became ill from food poisoning, 45 of whom required hospitalization, although nobody died. It was a year before authorities determined the source of the outbreak.
In 1995, the religious sect Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin gas (a chemical agent) in the Toyko subway system. 12 people died and thousands became ill. While the cult also attempted to use biological weapons (spraying botulinum toxin and anthrax in downtown Tokyo over a two year period, 1993-1995, as many as ten times, there was no apparent known effect.) Some have suggested that the switch to sarin gas from bio-agents is indicative of the relative ease by which CW can be administered, as compared to BW.
In the autumn of 2001, following the terror attacks in New York and Washington, at least three letters contaminated with anthrax were circulated in the US. 18 people were infected with anthrax as a result, and five people died. The impact of the letters was wider however than those numbers would suggest.
Regardless of the frequency of contemporary attacks, the potential for risk by biological agent dispersal should not be ignored. It is calculated that 100 kilograms of anthrax spores could be dispersed, in ideal conditions, killing between 130,000 and 3 million people over a large US city a lethality matching or exceeding that of a hydrogen bomb (see: Richard F. Pilch in the references, below).
The greatest present danger of BW risk is probably the brain drain of Russian ex bio-weapon scientists. Stemming that flow is therefore the most likely useful focus of our attention.
Nuclear Weapons: Verification and compliance proposals in the context of deep reductions
What are some proposed approaches to verifying deep reductions in nuclear forces as would be necessary in the early phases of a process towards abolition? Some, such as Bruce Blair, Frank von Hippel, Steve Fetter et al. have noted (see references, below) the high degree of cooperation that will be necessary among the current nuclear weapon states before verification of compliance measures can be put into place something that is not currently looking that promising. But, when the ducks so get lined up, a comprehensive system would include three key components:
1. measures to monitor restrictions on “allowed” nuclear weapons [en route to abolition];
2. measures to monitor delivery vehicles and launchers; and
3. measures to monitor restrictions on the deployment and alert status of nuclear forces.
We should note the importance of irreversibility in any of these deep cuts strategies. Some of this could be carried out by the IAEA, other aspects by a new verification authority that would need to be set up. Standard measures would include the listing of suspect processes, declarations, tagging schemes, challenge inspection protocols, records verification, production facilities shutdown monitoring procedures, and so on, that in the present international climate may seem to put the cart before the horse. However, if we are to be prepared to enter a period of deep reductions when the opportunity arises, and because the process of inventorying will be long and complex anyway, theres no time like the present to start the inventory.
A precise inventory of known warhead and fissile materials stockpiles could be at the top of the list. For the very reason that concealed weapons and fissile materials will be almost impossible to detect without information indicating where to start looking, it is important that the process begin, and obviously starting with those currently willing to cooperate.
As the Nuclear Turning Point authors suggest, citizen reporting should be both encouraged now and become an activity protected in law.
The costs of verification are not prohibitive, even ignoring their efficacy
In 1995, the IAEA estimated that a comprehensive nuclear weapons verification effort would involve 25,000 person days of inspection effort/year, and cost $150 million to monitor 995 facilities in both the declared and undeclared nuclear weapon states. For comparison, it cost $62.5 million in 1993 to do the job, involving 8,200 person days. Ron Cleminson, who has spoken to this gathering in the past, estimated perhaps somewhat optimistically about eight years ago that a cool half billion dollars per year would cover verification costs for the whole range of weapons of mass destruction. In other words, this is a drop in the bucket, even in todays dollars.
The problem, however, is not cost, nor is it likely technological, even though there is real complexity in tracking inventories of broadly used industrial products that might be diverted into chemical weapons production; or sources of anthrax and other bio-agents, or nuclear reactor waste products diversion.
Iraq Case Study: What lessons?
We know that absolute certainty of compliance is impossible, so there needs to be agreement on what level of satisfaction is acceptable, realizing that the greater the assurance, the greater will be the coercion potential in any unfriendly environment. That level of assurance is certainly also technologically limited, but case studies such as that of UNSCOM/UNMOVIC in Iraq suggest that the process is on the most part effective. Here Id like to throw into the pot for discussion a few questions for us to consider:
I think the evidence shows that the UNSCOM/UNMOVIC inspection experience is proof we are facing a political question, not a verification problem. In fact there is a good deal of likelihood that once the deep cuts in nuclear weapons process is begun in earnest, once the momentum shifts away from the 9/11 obsession, the rest may not be simple, but the verification process will be shown to be well developed, even based on current experience and technology.
All of which leads us to asking ourselves: Were the measures taken by inspectors in Iraq to verify compliance with Security Council resolutions robust enough? Knowing that the process can never be 100% assured, were the criteria selected sufficient? Lets assume that they were good enough. The weight of evidence suggests that Iraq either had no Weapons of Mass Destruction of any significance in hand; or they may have moved them out of the country (a piece of anonymous speculation that recently made the rounds); or the Iraqis may have destroyed them.
In any case, there was no evidence of an imminent threat. That was more or less the Canadian government position (see references, below), and the position of most states, including the majority among the 15 members of the Security Council. Arguably there was conflicting intelligence. But if a regime as comprehensive as the inspection regime placed in Iraq was not sufficient, then what would sufficient look like, and what does that tell us about the future of the verification and compliance process?
There are other test cases waiting in line on the so-called rogue lists: Iran, North Korea and Libya. What confidence do we have, then, that a positive inspection report will be taken at face value, and not that these assessments will be taken instead as excuses for intervention, regardless of any inspection/verification/compliance process outcome? In other words, is there a basic political problem that needs to be addressed, before we can get back to looking to verifying compliance in another corner of the globe?
Canadas assessment of Iraqs weapons of mass destruction:
Richard A. Falkenrath, Problems of Preparedness: U.S. Readiness for a Domestic Terrorist Attack, available on the world wide web at:
Richard A. Falkenrath, Robert D. Newman and Bradley A. Thayer, America’s Achilles’ Heel: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Terrorism and Covert Attack, 1998, MIT Press, may be available as an e-book through university libraries.
Harold A. Feiveson, ed. The Nuclear Turning Point: A Blueprint for Deep Cuts and De-Alerting of Nuclear Weapons. Washington, DC.: Brookings Institute, 1999.
Russell Howard and Reid Sawyer, eds. Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment. Guilford, Ct: McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, 2004. See in particular:
Jessica Stern, from “Getting and Using the Weapons,” The Ultimate Terrorists (Harvard University Press, 1999)
Christopher F. Chyba, from “Toward Biological Security,” Foreign Affairs (May/June 2002)
Richard F. Pilch, from “The Bioterrorism Threat in the United States,” Monterey Institute of International Studies Report, prepared for the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (2003)
Walter Laquer, Post Modern Terrorism. In Foreign Affairs, Vol. 75, no. 5, 1996.
NOVA backgrounder on Biological Weapons. Available on the world wide web at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bioterror/
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons on the world wide web at: http://www.opcw.org/factsandfigures/
See also their Fact Sheets, including #5 Three Types of Inspection, and #2 Synopsis of the CW convention text.
Bev Delong: CANADA, MISSILE PROLIFERATION AND CONTROLS
Briefing note for Government-Civil Society Consultation Feb. 24 & 25th, 2004
The literature in this area seems based in a fantasy world of good guys and bad guys, or perhaps even a world where the only owners of nuclear weapons are North Korea, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. Rare are references to the legal obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons. And nonexistent are references to the warnings given by Dr. Joseph Rotblat, General Lee Butler, Dr. Bruce Blair and others of the dangers involved in states persisting with policies of launch on warning. (1)
Thankfully greater realism has obviously encouraged Canadian officials in their persistent work in moving from the MTCR to the Hague Code of Conduct. The clarity of thinking is very evident in Robs excellent paper. We are in a somewhat more secure world due to his work on Pre Launch Notifications in the Code. Mark Smith of the Mountbatten Centre has commented on the importance as well of the establishment under the Code of basic working relationships and he notes that Stopgap solutions, after all, are better than a widening gulf. (2)
There is some evidence the MTCR has slowed transfers of sophisticated technology.(3) But all these initiatives fail to define disarmament as an urgent legal obligation.(4) And I think that apart from improving the procedures defined under the Hague Code and widening its membership, we may now be at a halt.
Why do states want missiles? Regional quarrels obviously support the drive to buy nuclear weapons. But, more importantly, I think that demand is fuelled when states are subjected to threats of nuclear use. The US is known to have made such threats over 20 times.(5) And the new- and near- nuclear states have noted the profound hypocrisy of NATO states who, while claiming to support the NPT, simultaneously maintain their capacity to threaten nuclear use.
Given this dangerous state of affairs, what could the Government of Canada do to build international energy toward fulfilling our legal obligation of nuclear disarmament?
A. The Government could use the opportunity of the NPT PrepCom to publicly move to an authentic position of legal compliance with the NPT. We can join South Africa and 61 other states now in NWFZs in delegitimizing nuclear weapons. This soon-to-be-historic (!) speech at the PrepCom would require several elements. The Canadian Government would:
1st, call upon all Nuclear Weapons States to immediately de-alert their nuclear weapons recognizing the threat posed by launch-on- warning strategies;
2nd, Canada would refuse the offer made by the US to Canada in the National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction to use nuclear weapons to defend us, noting that such a defence is immoral, unlawful and could trigger a nuclear holocaust (6).
3rd, the Government would announce that Canada will no longer participate in NATOs Nuclear Planning Group noting that such planning for the use of nuclear weapons is both immoral and unlawful as a breach of international humanitarian law; [I reject the seat at the tableargument and think officials need to be very mindful of the implications of the Nuremberg Principles for those planning…a war in violation of international law..]
4th Canada would call upon the US to honour its Negative Security Assurances and withdraw its threats against the several states named in the Nuclear Posture Review; and finally
5th, Canada would call upon the US to withdraw its threat of preemptive nuclear use against states thought to possess WMD. Such threats simply encourage those states to acquire missiles and weapons to protect themselves against the US.
Imagine how such a speech might serve to delegitimize nuclear weapons?
In addition, there are other steps Canada could take to limit missile proliferation and to delegitimize nuclear weapons.
B. It is obvious that Canada should withdraw from all US plans for missile defence, noting that this program is encouraging the maintenance and indeed expansion of nuclear arsenals and missile technology worldwide. (7) As an alternative, the government could engage like-minded states in discussion of the possibility of a missile flight test ban. Indeed, Canada should invite other states to discuss the new threat potentially posed to satellites by missile defence technology and the need for satellite security. (8)
C. Canada might host meetings to explore the necessary elements of model domestic legislation criminalizing not just the activities of those involved in sales of nuclear technology – as Dr. El Baradei has proposed – but the activities of those involved in all aspects of nuclear weaponry. If we start a process of one state after another criminalizing nuclear weapons activities, perhaps it would build public support and political momentum toward a norm of rejection of nuclear weapons.
D. Canada could investigate means of supporting the renewal of a US-North Korea security agreement. The American assurance against the threat and use of nuclear weapons from the 1994 Framework Agreement should be urgently renewed. North Korea should quite simply be bought off with food aid and fuel.
E. The Canadian Government should be strongly encouraged to support efforts through ASEAN to build military and popular support for a North East Asia Nuclear Weapons- Free Zone. As recommended by the Pacific Campaign for Disarmament and Security, Canada might play a role by encouraging the invitation of civil society from the ASEAN states to present their proposals for this Zone and engage in debate within a ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting. (9) And a similar strategy should be supported in other regions.
F. As for the Proliferation Security Initiative, I am a newcomer to maritime law, but my initial look at the Law of the Sea Convention leads me to believe that interdiction on the high seas – no matter how justified – is currently unlawful. Almost more worrying is my sense that it will be perceived to be an act of bullying by states. We need to avoid rash action. If we want our seas nuclear free, the time must be taken to build consensus on a Nuclear Weapons Free Seas Treaty – applicable to all – or amend the Law of the Sea Convention. The U.S. should be warned that bullying activities may provoke further proliferation or terrorism against them.
G. More generally, but still very important, the Canadian government can confront proliferation by increasing funding directed toward democratization and development strategies worldwide, such work being of particular importance in these states of concern. It is this work that will in the long term build a more stable international security. Ernie Regehr has written very persuasively on the need for attention to governance issues. (10)
H. Finally, in accord with its undertakings at the UN on Disarmament Education, the government could fund a nuclear weapons education program to build a norm supporting abolition of nuclear weapons. It could initially be directed to four specific groups each of which might become engaged in discussing missile proliferation within their communities. Might I suggest these groups – all potential citizen inspectors or whistleblowers:
1) new Canadians who might have important contacts in new or near nuclear weapons states
2) scientists who could potentially be invited to engage in research regarding nuclear weapons and their delivery systems,
3) Canadians engaged in work, study and travel abroad, and
4) unions involved in the transportation industry responsible for handling goods in ports, and airports.
Such strategies might provide a truer and nondiscriminatory path to engaging the global public in understanding the risks of missile proliferation.
(1) Bruce G. Blair, Keeping Presidents in the Nuclear Dark, Feb. 16, 2004;
Bruce G. Blair, Rogue States: Nuclear Red-Herrings, Dec. 5, 2003 (both at
Generals Lee Butler and Andrew J. Goodpaster, Joint Statement on Reduction of Nuclear Weapons Arsenals: Declining Utility, Continuing Risks, 2002 (at ;
David Ruppe Experts Warn of Accidental U.S., Russian Missile Launches, Jan. 28, 2004, Global Security Newswire,
(2) Mark Smith, Preparing the Ground for Modest Steps: A Progress Report on the Hague Code of Conduct, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 72, August – September 2003, at p. 10 wherein he comments …while provision of information such as the HCoCs PLNs [Pre Launch Notifications] and annual declarations is certainly a limited cure for the insecurity generated by missile development, the modest impact of such basic working relationships should not be dismissed. Stopgap solutions, after all, are better than a widening gulf.
(3) Mark Smith, Pros and Cons of the MTCR, and Efforts to Move Forward, INESAP Bulletin 21, publishing a paper delivered on Jan. 24-26, 2003 in Berlin.
(4) W. Pal S. Sidhu and Christophe Carle, Managing Missiles: Blind Spot or Blind Alley?, Disarmament Diplomacy, Issue No. 72, August – September 2003, at p. 7.
(5) For instance, see the threat of nuclear use made by the U.S. in the Nuclear Posture Review. This is only one of a series of threats by the U.S. and other nuclear states. For a list of the threats, refer to A Chronology of Nuclear Threats which has been researched by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Maryland, USA. For a further update, see the speechNuclear Weapons: Forgotten but not Gone, by Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation, on Feb. 24- 25, 2001 at their website within which the author notes: …. over the past decade the U.S. has threatened the use of nuclear weapons against Libya (April 1996), North Korea (July 1994) and Iraq (1991 and 1998).
(6) In the U.S. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction released in 2002, it states The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force – including through resort to all of our options – to the use of WMD against the United States, our forces abroad, and friends and allies.
(7). Unhappily we note that Russia has just engaged in a huge military exercise to test ballistic missile launches in an attempt to develop weapons systems capable of providing an asymmetric answer to existing and prospective weapons systems, including missile defencestates Col. Gen. Baluyevsky, deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces quoted in General says maneuvers are response to American nuclear development plan, International Herald Tribune (online), Feb. 11, 2004.
The report of these exercises in Military Exercises of the Nuclear Briefcase from Rossiyskaya Gazeta of Feb. 11, 2004 advises that Such large-scale exercises have not been organized in Russia for a long time….Strategic nuclear forces will play the main role in the exercise.
(8) David Wright and Laura Grego, Anti-Satellite Capabilities of Planned US Missile Defense Systems, Union of Concerned Scientists, Dec. 9, 2002, at
(9) Promoting a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free-Zone: An Opportunity for Canada, Pacific Campaign for Disarmament & Security, August 2003.
(10) The need to support improved governance has been well argued by Ernie Regehr in Missile Proliferation, Globalized Insecurity, and Demand-Side Strategies, Ploughshares Briefing 01/4.
What did the World Hearth Organization say about nuclear weapons?
World Health Organization, 1987
After a nuclear war “famine and diseases would be widespread; social, communication, and economic systems around the world would be disrupted…It is obvious that the health services in the world could not alleviate the situation in any significant way.”
Press Release WHO/69 – 12 September 1995
NUCLEAR WEAPONS TESTING
Speaking today at the Forty-sixth session of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Committee for the Western Pacific in Manila, the Philippines, Dr Hiroshi Nakajima, WHO Director-General, addressed the issue of testing of nuclear weapons.
“Within the framework of the United Nations, WHO has consistently supported nuclear disarmament, the non-proliferation treaty, and the nuclear test ban treaty currently under negotiation”, said Dr Nakajima. “WHO is firmly opposed to the production, testing, stockpiling, transport or use of nuclear weapons. This position is implicit in the WHO Constitution which opposes any common danger or risk to the attainment of Health for All. WHO has carried out extensive studies on the effects of nuclear war on health and health services, as well as the health effects of nuclear accidents particularly at Chernobyl. At the request of the World Health Assembly (Resolution WHA46.40 of 14 May 1993) and the UN General Assembly (Resolution 49/75K of 15 December 1994), the question of the lawfulness of the use of nuclear weapons has been referred by WHO and the UN to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where the matter will be before the Court in November this year”.
It is evident that besides the immediate catastrophic effects in terms of death, casualties and material damage, the use of nuclear weapons will cause long term human suffering and environmental disturbance beyond our capacity to accurately predict. As WHO stated some ten years ago, “the only approach to the treatment of the health effects of nuclear explosions is primary prevention of such explosions, that is the prevention of atomic war”.
In 1991, a WHO Management Group* noted that “with the positive changes in the world situation it was the peacetime uses of atomic energy that had become the greater cause for concern”. Nevertheless, nuclear weapons are still being produced, tested and stockpiled; therefore the potential danger of the consequences of their use has not yet been eliminated, and there are significant costs and dangers associated with their transport, testing and disposal.
Although most of the information concerning the health and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons comes from the two bombings that took place in 1945, other investigations are under way based on retrospective analysis as well as simulation of nuclear tests underground and in the atmosphere. We know that nuclear detonation produces three major sources of death and injury: blast, heat wave and release of radiation. Exposure to instantaneous radiation (gamma rays and neutrons) causes sickness and, possibly, death. At relatively low doses, it damages blood cells. At higher doses, damage occurs to the gastrointestinal tract, and at very high doses injury to the brain. Suppression of the body’s immune system is recognized as a consequence of radiation over-exposure.
Long-term effects such as cancer induction and genetic damage result from instantaneous radiation exposure during the explosion and the longer-term contamination of the environment. Long-term psychological effects continue to be noted among the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
An account of the health effects of nuclear weapons must also include consideration of the production cycle of these weapons including mining and production of materials, fuel enrichment, development, manufacture, testing, stockpiling, maintenance, transport, dismantling, storage and disposal. Each of these stages presents direct risks to the health of the personnel involved and the general population. The costs of safe disposal often exceed those of development.
At least 1950 nuclear tests have been carried out since 1945. Testing can be carried out in space, in the air, on the earth’s surface or under water (all called “atmospheric”), or underground, the latter being the only method used at the present time. To date, it is reported that approximately 1420 underground tests have been conducted in different parts of the world. Simulation technology for nuclear explosions has been developed to such an extent that renewed tests for more advanced weapons would be totally unnecessary if the simulation technology were shared among states.
Resumption or continuation of underground tests is of particular concern especially in the case of “shallow” tests. Not only does this entail the risk of instantaneous leaks of short-lived and long-lived radioisotopes to the ground, to water and air, but it may trigger potential long-term effects that are not immediately apparent. Changes to the structural integrity of the ground, temperature and stress are likely to increase the number and size of crevices in the surrounding rock or ground. Such crevices would provide paths for long- term exchanges with the surroundings, in particular ground water, rivers and oceans, in ways that are difficult to predict.
Isotopes likely to dominate long-term radioactivity are Caesium-137, Strontium-90, Plutonium -239 and Americium-241. Furthermore, Caesium-137 and Strontium-90 are known to be transported by water and remain in the food- chain. As for Plutonium-239 and Americium-241, their most significant potential exposure route is by inhalation. In addition to the possible release of these radionuclides, radioisotopes from previous tests which had already settled or lodged in the rock are feared to be freed by the new tests.
“In short, there is no such thing as a “fail-safe” nuclear weapon testing, and we cannot be assured that testing will be without risk to present and future generations. The best way to ensure human health and peace, is for all nations of the world to share knowledge about nuclear energy, and to forswear the production, testing and use of nuclear weapons. The World Health Organization, and I as its Director-General, stand for a “nuclear-weapons-free world. Greater transparency on the part of nuclear powers would certainly help”, said Dr Nakajima.
For further information, please contact Valery Abramov, Health Communications and Public Relations, WHO, Geneva. Tel (41 22) 791 2543. Fax (41 22) 791 4858.
* Established by the Director-General in 1983 to follow up Resolution WHA 36.28 “Effects of nuclear war on health and health services”. The Group consists of six international experts appointed by the Director-General.