The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) joins with other disarmament organizations critical of the nuclear weapons policy shift of the government of the United Kingdom. The British defence and foreign policy review, “Global Britain in a Competitive Age”, would increase the number of nuclear weapons in the U.K. arsenal. It would also extend the declared purposes of nuclear deterrence to a wider range of perceived threats. Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has cautioned that “there are already too many nuclear warheads in the world, not too few.” He added: “The past has shown that if one side has more nuclear weapons, the other side will try to catch up. And that is the disastrous arms race we have been in for decades.”
We urge the government of British Prime Minister Johnson to reverse these regressive and provocative steps as they are in violation of treaty obligations. They carry the inherent risk of re-fueling both a nuclear and conventional arms race.
Instead of reducing to a maximum of 180 nuclear warheads from the current 195, as previously promised, the new plan moves in the opposite direction by increasing the Trident-purposed arsenal to a new cap of 260 warheads. In contrast to limiting the scope of nuclear deterrence and moving towards full elimination as required by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the UK’s declared policy is being extended to “emerging technologies” and to a wider range of weapons of mass destruction.
Three former Canadian U.N. Disarmament Ambassadors quickly reacted to the U.K. policy shift.
The Honourable Douglas Roche O.C. stated that:
On February 26, 2020, the United Kingdom joined a unanimous statement by the U.N. Security Council calling on all states parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to cooperate in nuclear disarmament measures. What happened to suddenly move the U.K. government to increase its nuclear arsenal by 40 percent? This appears to be the U.K. response to the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. So much for the humanitarian movement against nuclear weapons! Power politics rears its ugly head once more. This unconscionable act, which drives ahead the nuclear arms race, jeopardizes the success of the NPT Review Conference later this year. Canada must join Germany in criticizing the U.K.’s reckless act.
Peggy Mason, who heads the Rideau Institute, further said that:
The new UK defence policy reduces transparency in that country’s operational stockpile and deployed warheads. It also expands the circumstances in which it would use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT, beyond weapons of mass destruction, to include threats from unspecified “emerging technologies” of “comparable impact”. It is hard to see these extraordinarily destabilizing actions as anything other than a desperately diminished post-Brexit Britain struggling to maintain some semblance of global prestige.
And Paul Meyer, who is also the Chair of the Canadian Pugwash Group, notes that:
At the last NPT Review Conference in 2015, the UK delivered a statement committing to limit operationally deployed warheads on its ballistic missile submarines to no more than 120 and to reduce its overall nuclear warhead stockpile to no more than 180 by the mid-2020s. The announced change in UK nuclear policy represents a betrayal of that pledge and sends the worst of all possible signals to the NPT community in the lead up to its August Review Conference. In 2015 the UK promised “to strive to build conditions for a world without nuclear weapons”. Doesn’t Prime Minister Johnson’s Government realize that increasing nuclear arsenals is not one of the ways to get to that goal?
CNANW joins many others in challenging the rationale of the UK’s decision. Whatever the political reasons for the redirection of official United Kingdom defence policy, CNANW sees the proposal as an affront to the entry into force of the two-month-old Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and as a challenge to this year’s planned Review Conference deliberations for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
We call on the Canadian government to clearly state its disappointment to its NATO ally, to urge caution and press Prime Minister Johnson to reverse the implementation of a policy that would lead to a more dangerous world with a greater likelihood of proliferation of nuclear weapons.
In these days of pandemics and other global stresses, the world requires sober and thoughtful vision, with leadership that pulls us together for shared mutual security and risk reduction goals. We need to avoid — not increase — global risks from dangerous, and regressive policy changes.
Robin Collins and Dr. Sylvie Lemieux CNANW Co-Chairpersons
The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) was established in 1996 by representatives of national organizations that share the conviction that nuclear weapons are immoral and should be abolished.
“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.
We are celebrating the entry into force tomorrow of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Why is this treaty necessary?
Let us cast our eyes back fifty years to another treaty entry into force, this time the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NPT was essentially a bargain: non–nuclear weapons states would forsake any attempt to acquire nuclear weapons in return for the nuclear weapons possessors to negotiate in good faith their elimination.
Who in their wildest dreams would have thought that the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, would feel compelled earlier this month to plead with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to deny access by an increasingly unstable president to the nuclear launch codes, for fear that he might order a nuclear strike? As if this were even possible, since, under U.S. law, no one can counter such an order by the commander in chief.
On February 14, 2014, as the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons came to an end, conference Chair Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo—then deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mexico—captured the sentiment in the room in the powerful last few words of his closing remarks: in global efforts toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, this conference marked a “point of no return.” His optimistic conclusion was met with a roar of applause.
With the treaty banning nuclear weapons about to become international law, Global Affairs Canada has softened its opposition. But it’s still on the wrong side of history, according to Project Ploughshares executive director Cesar Jaramillo. Read further: Nuclear arms and Canada
Earl Turcotte – Letter to The Hill TimeAs. Published in modified form on Nov. 2, 2020.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), negotiated in 2017 has been endorsed by 122 nations. Since that time, 50 nations have signed and ratified the Treaty, triggering its entry into force in 90 days.
While most of the world will celebrate this historic event, almost 75 years to the day after the UN’s first-ever resolution that called for the elimination of atomic weapons, the United States of America is doing its level best to sabotage the Treaty.
In a now widely circulated ‘non-paper’ sent to countries that have joined the TPNW, the US registers its outrage and requests that they withdraw from the Treaty. Why? Among the long list of reasons cited by the Americans, because “Russia and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) are engaged in a nuclear arms buildup with the goal of military dominance that if left unimpeded, will result in a new nuclear arms race. Should they succeed, the result will be profoundly negative for the future of the democratic way of life… And let’s be frank: The TPNW will not stand in Russia’s or the PRC’s way in remaking the global order in their own cynical, autocratic image.”
Leave aside that China has approximately 300 nuclear weapons, compared to the US and Russia that have 6,000 each and that the US spends more on defence each year than the next 10 countries combined. It is precisely this kind of ham-fisted rhetoric, combined with the US’ own actions in recent years, that render nuclear disarmament a global imperative.
The United States itself triggered the new nuclear arms race when it announced that it would budget $1.5 Trillion dollars over the next 30 years to ‘modernize’ its nuclear arsenal. Donald Trump, in addition to increasing tension with adversaries and allies alike, has threatened “fire and fury” on North Korea, withdrawn from the nuclear deal with Iran and the Intermediate-range Nuclear forces Treaty with Russia, stated his intention to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty and has not to date agreed to renew the critically important New START Treaty with Russia that will expire in February 2021 – despite repeated offers by Russia to extend the Treaty without preconditions.
While there is indeed cause for concern about an ascendant China and Mr. Putin’s clear longing for the glory days of the former USSR, it is lunacy to engage in this kind of brinkmanship. All hell could break loose – deliberately or accidentally – plunging the world into an existential crisis that could make a global pandemic feel like a day at the beach.
What to do? Looking (and praying) for change south of our border after November 3rd, Joe Biden has indicated that, if elected, he would try to scale back Trump’s buildup in nuclear weapons spending and would make the US less reliant upon the world’s deadliest weapons. There could be an opportunity here, to engage a more rational and mature administration in the United States. Either way, the rest of the world has to make it clear to all nuclear armed states that enough is enough! We’ve got to get rid of these damned weapons before they get rid of us!
Earl Turcotte Chair, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Douglas Roche, October 30, 2020 in The Hill Times: In a subtle diplomatic move, the Government of Canada has ceased its opposition and now “acknowledges” the reason for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which will enter into force on Jan. 22, 2021.
Douglas Roche: “The Canadian government has said it cannot make such a commitment because of its membership in NATO. But the letter contests this stand, arguing that nothing in the new treaty precludes a NATO state joining, as long as it never assists the use of nuclear weapons.”
EDMONTON—Lloyd Axworthy, Jean-Jacques Blais, Jean Chrétien, Bill Graham, John McCallum, John Manley, and John Turner.
These seven names hardly need an introduction to readers of The Hill Times, and certainly not to the Government of Canada. Two of them are former prime ministers, three are former foreign ministers, and two are former defence ministers, who ran and served Liberal governments.
All of them signed an open letter [en français], released on Sept. 21, that features 53 former high officials of NATO countries expressing support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is an astonishing rebuke of NATO’s moribund policies on nuclear weapons, and the most serious challenge to NATO’s nuclear orthodoxy in the organization’s 71-year history. Even two former NATO secretaries-general, Javier Solana and Willy Claes, as well as former U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, joined in this protest.
That Covid-19 has created a new global reality is clear. If there is any positive aspect to this unfolding situation, it could be a deeper appreciation for the fact that the well-being of people throughout the world is inextricably linked. The COVID crisis might also serve as a cautionary tale, helping us to avoid other threats to humanity. Read the pdf
In a world that seems
every week to be further jettisoning
international law on global security as ugly
national populism rises, is there any hope
for the elimination of nuclear weapons? Continue reading…Roche021920_ht
Dear Prime Minister:
Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, supported by more than 1,000 recipients of the Order of Canada, write once again to urge you and your Government to make nuclear arms control and disarmament a national priority. In this letter, we make specific suggestions, notably that Canada work diligently toward achieving an international consensus to save the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at its Review Conference in 2020….. [continue reading: CNWC Letter to Prime Minister.Jan22-2020]
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.
Nuclear Armageddon is the global peril that time forgot. But amid all the concern about environmental degradation, disarmament remains imperative, says Nobel laureate John Polanyi. Read full essay: Do more to prevent nuclear war
“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.)