CNANW

The Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons | Le Réseau canadien pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires

Canadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention Award Lecture by Tariq Rauf

Ending the Perpetual Menace of Nuclear Weapons


“Following the Trinity nuclear test detonation of 16 th July 1945, nuclear scientist Leó Szilárd observed that, “Almost without exception, all the creative physicists had misgivings about the use of the bomb” and further that “Truman did not understand at all what was involved regarding nuclear weapons”. These days, the movie Oppenheimer has been the rage based on a noteworthy biography of Robert Oppenheimer entitled American Prometheus written by historians Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin. Though the movie spares its viewers the horrors of the atomic bombing of Japan, it does reflect the warnings of the early nuclear weapon scientists about the long-term or permanent dangers of a nuclear arms race and associated risks of further nuclear weapons use. On the other hand, the film overlooks other historical works including A World Destroyed: Hiroshima and its Legacies also by Martin Sherwin, that disputes and negates the US government’s narrative about the necessity of using nuclear weapons twice over civilian targets in Japan and suggests that the decisions were driven mainly by geostrategic and prestige considerations – criteria still in operation today to justify continuing retention of nuclear weapons.”

Read on: Tariq Rauf: Ending Perpetual Menace of NW 

Today’s Wars No Excuse to Abandon Disarmament

Download statement in pdf

 

Published in The Hill Times, November 1, 2023

For the first time, the four leading organizations in Canada devoted to nuclear disarmament issues — Canadian Pugwash GroupCanadian Network to Abolish Nuclear WeaponsCanadians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention and Project Ploughshares — co-sponsored a single event on Oct. 19, 2023. This extraordinary Roundtable, “Revitalizing Nuclear Disarmament Afer the Ukraine War,” was convened at a moment of extreme danger to the world. This is the Roundtable’s abridged report to the Government of Canada.

Full Report, Canada’s Role in Nuclear Disarmament in a Multi-Polar World: After Ukraine Special Roundtable

Reducing the Nuclear Weapons Risks in the Ukraine Conflict

Report on November 29, 2022 Special Meeting of CNANW

In a recent statement, NATO’s Secretary General, a former social-democratic Norwegian Prime Minster, Mr. Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance will continue to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes”. He added: “We will not back down.” Prominent columnists have challenged the very idea that a ceasefire in the Ukraine crisis is possible or have even suggested that it might lengthen the war on Russian President Putin’s terms. Some press for a “fight to victory” by Kyiv, given recent gains on the battlefield. Sometimes the nuclear weapons threat is seen as blackmail, a bluff, or a risk worth ignoring.

How then can Canada constructively contribute to peace?

Panelists at the CNANW discussion in late November were asked to consider opportunities for reducing the nuclear weapon threat, and prospects for peace. All acknowledged the dire situation in Ukraine following the illegal Russian invasion.

“NWC Reset: Frameworks for a nuclear-weapon-free world”

Brief comments at the NPT side panels
(by Robin Collins, Co-chair, Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons)
August 9, 2022 by Zoom

“Don’t let your reticence with one approach for the sake of alliance solidarity be the excuse of convenience that you use to justify not proceeding with another.

A colleague in Canada recently asked us to imagine that day when “You wake up to the news that the last remaining warhead has been dismantled. The era of nuclear weapons is over.”

We know he wasn’t being overly optimistic, because he then offered a list of many of the hard cases and sticky problems that obstruct us: the nuclear sharing policies of NATO; North Korea; Iran; the nuclear weapons states outside the NPT, and all those NPT obligations and expectations that to a large extent are unfulfilled or are openly violated. 

He was urging us to be realists and to consider the complementarity of options.

The point is that the specific vehicle must defer to the desire and commitment by states to accomplish the abolition. What will inspire the political will to end the existential threat hanging over us all? What are the unnecessary obstacles?

As nuclear weapon abolitionists we can make the project of abolition and the replacement security framework coherent and as palatable as possible so that when the road is cleared, or clearer, things can as easily as possible fall into place. Which package, or options picked, is far less important. What counts is that the goal is pursued in earnest.

As Jackie Cabasso, one of our Abolition 2000 working group members said earlier at the NPT as an NGO representative — considering the ignoring of NPT commitments from 1995, 2000 and 2010, it’s time to refocus our attention on the nuclear-armed states. A time-bound target for abolition is overdue. Jackie said: we “call on the nuclear-armed and nuclear sharing states to commit to a timeframe of no later than 2030 for the adoption of a framework, package of agreements or comprehensive nuclear weapons convention, and no later than 2045 for full implementation”.

The Nuclear Weapon Convention Reset paper that our Abolition 2000 working group constructed, has this approach, which is to highlight the three primary options that are under consideration: Then it is up to the official and unofficial Nuclear Weapon States, NATO members and NATO umbrella states to proceed.

Proceed swiftly. 

Canada, my country, has no nuclear weapons although was involved in the nuclear bomb project from the early days, and is a member of NATO, along with three nuclear-armed states, five others with nuclear-sharing arrangements[i] and seven others that participate in Support of Nuclear Operations With Conventional Air Tactics (known as SNOWCAT).[ii] 

We are fully aware of the pressures on NATO members towards their being compliant and in solidarity with other NATO members, to go along with the prevailing winds – and therefore also the reluctance to push back or be that nuclear nag (once again). This is still the case, particularly in the most delicate of moments, by which I mean the current context of the Russian illegal invasion of Ukraine: the sabre-rattling rhetoric, the references to actual use of nuclear weapons. Not to mention the daily killing and dying. But just as the New START talks need to continue, now more than ever, so is this a good time for states to speed up, not slow down, progress on abolition.

Countries like Canada may have been involved at the Stockholm Initiative, a diplomatic forum that proposes risk reduction measures and a “stepping stones approach” to nuclear disarmament; or attended The Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons this last June, but then avoided the TPNW like the plague, despite pressure from disarmament activists and many parliamentarians.

We are here pragmatically advocating for nuclear weapon states and NATO members to consider the options for disarmament that you can stomach. If not the TPNW with protocols, then a nuclear weapons convention or a framework of instruments. Don’t let your reticence with one approach for the sake of alliance solidarity be the excuse of convenience that you use to justify not proceeding with another. 

Some leader or leaders need to step up within NATO to break the silence and expose the illusory consensus, and begin the renewal of the abolition project, because, as the UN Secretary-General said, “Luck is no strategy!”

Our “Nuclear Weapons Convention Reset: Frameworks for a nuclear-weapon-free world” message, therefore, highlights this complementarity of three possibilities towards a time-bound abolition target, for de-escalation of the unhelpful rhetoric, for urgent risk reduction measures, and ultimately for a sustainable peace and common security wherein nuclear threats and nuclear weapons no longer exist. 

Thank you for your time.


[i] Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey

[ii] Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Norway, Poland and Romania

Jaramillo: Latin America and the Quest for Nuclear Abolition: From the Treaty of Tlatelolco to the Ban Treaty

photo credit: OPANAL

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.

Read further: here 

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