Archive for the ‘Nuclear weapons’ Category

Is the Nobel Committee Finally Abiding by Nobel’s Will?

By David Swanson

October 6, 2017

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) — listen to my radio show with one of ICAN’s leaders two years ago here.

It’s conceivable that some Americans will now learn, because of this award, about the new treaty that bans the possession of nuclear weapons.

This treaty has been years in the works. This past summer 122 nations agreed on the language of it, including these words…

Continue to the original here

On ICAN receiving the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg’s comments to Iran’s PressTV on this happy occasion.

Nobel Peace Prize 2017: Law and morality versus violent geopolitics

By Richard Falk
Professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University and University of California, Santa Barbara, board member of The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and TFF Associate since 1985

Finally, the committee in Oslo that picks a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize each year selected in 2017 an awardee that is a true embodiment of the intended legacy of Alfred Nobel when he established the prize more than a century ago.

It is also a long overdue acknowledgement of the extraordinary dedication of anti-nuclear activists around the planet who for decades have done all in their power to rid the world of this infernal weaponry before it inflicts catastrophe upon all living beings even more unspeakable that what befell the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on two infamous days in August 1945.

Such a prize result was actually anticipated days before the announcement by Fredrik Heffermehl, a crusading Norwegian critic of past departures from Nobel’s vision by the prize committee.

In making the prediction that the 2017 prize would be given in recognition of anti-nuclear activism Heffermehl prophetically relied on the outlook of the current chair of the Nobel selection committee, a distinguished Norwegian lawyer, Berit Reiss-Andersen, who has publicly affirmed her belief in the correlation between adherence to international law and world peace.

The recipient of the prize is ICAN, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of more than 450 civil society groups around the world that is justly credited with spreading an awareness of the dire humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons and of making the heroic effort to generate grassroots pressure sufficient to allow for the adoption of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by 122 UN members on 7 July 2017 (known as the ‘BAN Treaty’). Read the rest of this entry »

Nobel’s Peace Prize to ICAN: Thank you to the Nobel Committee!

Jan Oberg
TFF co-founder and director

Our thanks to the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for awarding its 2017 Prize to ICAN – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Undoubtedly nuclear disarmament and, ultimately, nuclear abolition is a major – if not the major – goal of humankind. There can be no lasting peace with these weapons and there exists no goal the achievement of which would legitimate the use of this type of weapons.

Even when not used, nuclear weapons cause problems, distrust, risks and pretext for wars – think Russia-NATO, Iraq, the nuclear deal (JCPOA) with Iran, US-North Korea, Israel, India-Pakistan – and documented technical malfunctions, human failures, and accidents with nuclear weapons.

Secondly, this year’s award honours the UN Charter, Article 1 of which states the essentially important norm that peace shall be brought about by peaceful means.

It is also in clear support – as was emphasized by the Committee’s chairwoman, Berit Reiss-Andersen, herself a lawyer – of the NPT of 1970, the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NPT states the longterm goal of general and complete disarmament, that the countries who possess nuclear weapons shall, in good faith, negotiate them away as a quid pro quo for others who may want to acquire nuclear weapons abstain from doing so. That is, possession is as important to abolish and a key to secure non-proliferation. Regrettably, all those who possess nuclear weapons have done the opposite of negotiating them away.

Thus, this year’s prize is a very important support for international law and the UN – our basic common normative system and foundations of international law that has been ignored (also by the media) and violated time and again during the last 20-30 years.

Third, it is of tremendous importance that this year’s award goes to a civil society organisation and not to a government representative. World peace is a massive citizens’ desire anywhere, whereas governments (with few exceptions) conduct such policies that trample upon this desire.

Fourth – and no less important than the above, this year’s Award honours the essential criteria of Alfred Nobel’s will. Importantly, this was emphasized by Reiss-Andersen. Given some of the recent awardees non/anti-peace work, there is a reason to congratulate not only ICAN but also the Committee for getting it absolutely right this year.

May it be the beginning of a new drive on the road toward peace with no more accidents in the ditch.

Those of us who, since 2007, have been engaged in a public information campaign about the Committee’s non-adherence, in a number of cases, to Alfred Nobel’s will, feel good today.

The Nobel Committee calls it “the world’s most prestigious prize” and it is essential that it be awarded only to people whose work falls clearly within the criteria of the will. It is neither a human rights, humanitarian, women’s or general do-good prize. It’s for everything that has to do with reducing warfare, risks of it, militarism. It is for disarmament, reduction of forces, negotiated solutions to conflicts, peace conferences and international sister- and brotherhood.

Most media do not seem to know that – also not that lots of nominations this year too were totally irrelevant no matter their other, non-peace qualities.

Finally, it is hardly unreasonable to view this year’s choice is a mild kick to the countries who have worked against the BAN Treaty that ICAN’s work has helped so efficiently to bring about – NATO in particular.

All NATO countries have ignored the BAN Treaty (as has the other nuclear countries Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel). This only goes to show how important the BAN Treaty is.

But the US is known to have put pressure on NATO members and others such as Sweden with direct threats to them should they sign the BAN Treaty (NATO countries’ mainstream media haven’t told you much about that whereas they fill you with so far non-documented rumours of Russian interference in other countries).

It’s high time to encourage, as the Nobel Committee chair emphasized, all those who possess (or store) nuclear weapons to change their policies and join humanity. They have no right and have never been given a mandate to possess these weapons and thereby threaten, potentially, the survival of humanity.

It’s all a matter of political will and moral courage. None of them base their possession of nuclear weapons on laws. The NATO Treaty doesn’t mention them at all.

The nomination of ICAN can be seen on the Nobel Peace Prize Watch here.

Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran

What Americans Really Think about Using Nuclear Weapons and Killing Noncombatants

By Gunnar Westberg
TFF Board member

“Revisiting Hiroshima in Iran: What Americans Really Think about Using Nuclear Weapons and Killing Noncombatants”
Scott D. Sagan and Benjamin A. Valentino
International Security, August 2017

This is a summary and a few reflections upon reading a very comprehensive academic study recently published in International Security. See it’s full text here.


The nuclear taboo is no longer strong

In this extensive and scholarly report of 67 pages the authors report on several opinion polls they have conducted in order to learn about the attitudes of Americans to the use of nuclear weapons compared to conventional weapons.

They also review the field extensively comparing with other studies.

Shortly after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki the Americans strongly supported the use of nuclear weapons in that situation. The approval rate decreased to a large degree over the years.

However, when questions were asked regarding the possibility of using nuclear weapons in a contemporary conflict, such as that between USA and Iran, the attitude to the use of nuclear weapons was still surprisingly positive. The “nuclear taboo” is no longer strong.

An attack with nuclear weapons on a major city is accepted by a not much lower percentage of respondents than is a conventional attack.

A clear majority of Americans would approve of using nuclear weapons against the civilian population of an adversary that does not possess nuclear weapons.

It was seen as acceptable by the respondents to kill 2 million civilian Iranian if they believed that such a nuclear strike would save the lives of 20,000 U.S. soldiers fighting in Iran.

About 60% of the American people support this opinion.

In contrast, a 2010 Chicago Council on Global Affairs survey found that 57 per cent of the public agreed that “the U.S. should only use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack by another nation” and that 20 per cent agreed that “the U.S. should never use nuclear weapons under any circumstances”.

The principle of “non-combatant immunity”, a central principle in international humanitarian law, requires that the military activities should avoid as far as possible damage to the civilian population, compared to the combatant soldiers.

This principle had no strong support by the public opinion in these studies.

It was found that women support nuclear weapons use and violations of noncombatant immunity no less (and in some cases more) than male respondents.

The authors were not surprised by the finding that most Americans place a higher value on the life of an American soldier than the life of a foreign noncombatant.

What was surprising, however, was the radical extent to which they adhered to that preference.

The experiments suggest that the majority of Americans find a 1:100 risk ratio to be morally acceptable.

It should be strongly emphasized that no comparable study has been found for any other population in any other country. It is not known if attitudes in other countries differ from those in the USA.

The Abstract of the study

Numerous polls demonstrate that U.S. public approval of President Harry Truman’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has declined significantly since 1945.

Many scholars and political figures argue that this decline constitutes compelling evidence of the emergence of a “nuclear taboo” or that the principle of noncombatant immunity has become a deeply held norm.

An original survey experiment, recreating the situation that the United States faced in 1945 using a hypothetical U.S. war with Iran today, provides little support for the nuclear taboo thesis.

In addition, it suggests that the U.S. public’s support for the principle of noncombatant immunity is shallow and easily overcome by the pressures of war.

When considering the use of nuclear weapons, the majority of Americans prioritize protecting U.S. troops and achieving American war aims, even when doing so would result in the deliberate killing of millions of foreign noncombatants.

A number of individual-level traits – Republican Party identification, older age, and approval of the death penalty for convicted murderers – significantly increase support for using nuclear weapons against Iran.

Women are no less willing (and, in some scenarios, more willing) than men to support nuclear weapons use.

These findings highlight the limited extent to which the U.S. public has accepted the principles of just war doctrine and suggest that public opinion is unlikely to be a serious constraint on any president contemplating the use of nuclear weapons in the crucible of war.

The full text here.

Trump as war criminal?

By Jonathan Power

September 26th 2017

Out of the blue the war in Vietnam is in the news. Yet it is not the fiftieth anniversary of America’s defeat in Vietnam when North Vietnam caused it to flee. It’s only the forty second.

Part of this must be fearful parallels with the moral and strategic blindness of President Donald Trump who seems to believe in uttering his life and death rhetoric, akin to President Richard Nixon’s on Vietnam, he can frighten the enemy into submission – in his case North Korea.

Many people are worried that Trump is ready to fight America’s biggest war since Vietnam. As did Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Advisor, he appears to be considering the use of nuclear weapons.

The second reason for Vietnam-consciousness are the rave reviews that are being given to Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 10 part documentary on the Vietnam War.

It is being mentioned all over the place.

To my mind one of the big questions is, is Trump ready to be branded a war criminal by present and future generations? Read the rest of this entry »

Unwinding the Iran nuclear deal

By Jonathan Power

September 5th 2017

The big mistake, apparently about to be made by President Trump, in undoing the nuclear agreement made by President Barack Obama with Iran is not just that he intends to go backwards, it is that he doesn’t intend to go forwards. (To be fair, neither did Obama.)

What the Iranians negotiated about was not so much the “bomb” – to be or not to be – but about their pride and their position in the world and their right to become a thriving economic and political power inured from sanctions or military threats. (Sanctions were imposed before the nuclear issue came to the fore.)

The nuclear program was first and foremost about creating leverage so that Iran could regain the sort of respect that the offspring of the Persian Empire once was given. Second, it was about making sure that Iran is not found short when its oil reserves start to shrink. (Iran also has heavily invested in solar energy.)

For Iran, negotiations were a suggestive game of hide and seek, played in front of all-angled, reflecting mirrors. They were not about actually building a bomb or, as we used to say in Pakistan’s pre-bomb days, of being “a screwdriver away from completing a bomb”.

I don’t actually believe that Iran ever had the intention of building a nuclear bomb. But it was not unhappy that the West thought it was. It did want to frighten the West. It did want to forestall what it believes is the Americans’ true ambition – to bring about “regime change”.

Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, has spoken a number of times about how nuclear weapons go against the principles of Islam. Islam is a language of love and brotherhood, not of a nuclear holocaust. I believe him, not out of naivety, but because I know Iran is a deeply religious society and that the ayatollahs take Islamic teaching earnestly. Children are brought up to take values seriously, to love not hate, and to take care of the poor and widowed. War is a last resort. Reading the Koran, nuclear weapons could never be justified.

Iran doesn’t go easily to war. Saddam Hussein inflicted war on Iran for no good reason, other than to demonstrate the muscle of a dictator. Iran had never tried to build up a deterrent against Iraq. (The US and the UK supported Saddam and provided him with weapons.) Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from the North Korea crisis: Nuclear weapons cause war even when not used

By Gunnar Westberg
Board member of TFF

August 20, 2017

The author has been twice to North Korea and maintains contacts with physicians in the North Korean branch of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War in that country.

”If your country continues to develop nuclear weapons, you will be attacked, maybe with nuclear weapons”. This what we have told our colleagues from North Korea, at visits to Pyongyang or at international meetings. “Oh no,” they said. “Look at Saddam Hussein and Mohamad Ghadafi. They gave up their plans for nuclear weapons, and they were attacked”.

“Nuclear weapons development is not the only reason for the USA to attack. Oil is the other”, we said.

It turns out we were right. North Korea – DPRK – continued on the path to nuclear weapons and the President of the USA threatens to attack. The crisis is, for the moment fading, but is likely to increase when DPRK makes its next move. It should be emphasized that a misunderstanding on either side may provide the spark causing a devastating war.

Nuclear weapons cause wars. Read the rest of this entry »

Can the US and North Korea move from threats to negotiations?

By Gareth Porter

For months, the Trump administration and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have each made a series of moves that have appeared to take them ever closer to the brink of war.

But a closer review of the escalation of the conflict reveals that both sides are consciously maneuvering for what they know will be extended serious negotiations on a new framework for peace on the Korean peninsula. The Trump administration is well aware that it has no real military option against the North, and the Kim Jong-un regime seems to have sought to use missile launches as signals to the Trump administration to convey not only North Korea’s determination not to give in to pressure, but also its hopes to stabilize the situation and avoid further escalation in US-North Korea military relations.

Continue reading here at TruthOut…

Nuclear sabre rattling with North Korea

By Jonathan Power

Does President Donald Trump (aka “Fire and Fury”) know what a nuclear war would be like?

I ask the question because President Roland Reagan confessed he did not until he decided to look at some movies (once an actor, he was a cinema man), like “On the Beach” that depicted a nuclear war. The exercise changed his thinking and he became an anti-nuclear weapons militant. Together with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev they cut their nuclear stockpiles sharply.

They also came near an agreement to destroy all their nuclear weapons.

The blasts at the end of the Second World War in Hiroshima and Nagasaki can now be repeated hundreds of thousand times. The remains would not just be the broken arches of the Caesars, the abandoned viaducts and moss-covered temples of the Incas, the desolation of one of the pulsating hearts of Europe, Dresden, but millions of square miles of uninhabitable desolation and a suffering which would incorporate more agony than the sum of past history.

It would be a time when the living would envy the dead and it would be a world which might well have destroyed the legacy of law, order and love that successive generations have handed over the centuries to one another. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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