Archive for the ‘Nuclear Free Zones’ Category

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.

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 »

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 »

TFF PressInfo # 422: You’re invited to the Nuclear Denial Party!

By Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden – Hiroshima Day, August 6, 2017





Welcome to the Nuclear Denial Party!!

Since marketing, omitted and fake news have – to a worrying extent – replaced knowledge and ethics, why not celebrate that the media have omitted every mention of Hiroshima Day today?

Why not celebrate that all the responsible NATO countries and all other (less responsible) nuclear powers refuse to work for a nuclear ban and abolition as well as for general and complete disarmament?  

Why not celebrate the decade-long self-deception that we can stop nuclear proliferation while being silent about nuclear possession?

Why not recognise with joy that there is an evil terrorism such as ISIS that we must fight and a good terrorism called ‘nuclear balance of terror’ that we must embrace – and that killing a few in the Middle East is much worse than planning to kill millions upon millions of innocent civilians worldwide and for a surely noble cause?

Why not laud the politico-media trick that the world’s attention is on non-nuclear Iran and not on nuclear Israel?

Why not appreciate the moral victory that we have – as civilisation – made slavery illegal, abolished absolute monarchy and put cannibalism behind us but – thank God! – haven’t given up the ultimate, death-and-destruction Omnicide weapons?

Why not feel good that Trump, Putin, Jinping, Macron, May etc. all play God and take the best care of the rest of us by deciding whether or not to continue project Humanity? They are all reliable, rational and moral leaders, so why not just be happy that we don’t have to worry!

Why not be grateful that there have been no more drunk commanders in nuclear facilities, panicking leaders, false nuclear warnings, technical failures, deficient floppy disk computers and no more nukes dropped inadvertently than we have heard of?

And why not, finally, see how fortunate it is that no referendum has ever been held by citizens in nuclear states. I mean, if the people had been allowed to say ‘No!’ we had hardly been so safe as we are today and instead had wasted trillions of dollars on making the world a better place for us all.

So, at the end of the day why should we not celebrate that – in spite of all this stupidity, immorality and nuclear dictatorship – 72 years into the Nuclear Age you and I are still alive?

On the mainstream media coverage of nuclear war risks and nuclear abolition

By Jan Oberg

TFF PressInfo # 421

June 30, 2017

You’re probably an avid consumer of news and reports in one or more daily media – local, national or global. You want to be well-informed and say interesting things when you meet friends and colleagues.

And you certainly don’t want to find out that you’ve been taken for a ride by fake news, half-truths, bias or omissions by media that you trusted because you thought you could.

Now ask yourself whether you remember to have seen one or more of these essentially important initiatives and reports recently, all pertaining to nuclear weapons, the risk of nuclear war and advocacy of nuclear abolition:

1) That a large majority of UN members have drafted a treaty that shall declare nuclear weapons illegal, once and for all?
If not, go here and enlighten yourself on one of the most constructive and visionary initiatives in today’s otherwise gloomy world situation.

2) That a conference is taking place these very days about that goal and its process?
If not, go here.

3) That a scary new film shows why Americans should be very nervous about nuclear arsenals?
If not, go here.

4) That the Marshall Islands filed a lawsuit against all 9 nuclear weapons states for failing to comply with their international legal obligations?
If not, go here and see how the smallest actor of all took responsibility on behalf of 7 billion people.

5) That the Nuclear Crisis Group advocates – just a couple of days ago – that steps be taken urgently to de-escalate nuclear flash point such as NATO-Russia and North Korea?
It consists of predominantly former nuclear weapons commanders, ambassadors and scholars, mostly American
If not, go herethis report has not be mention by one single mainstream/make-believe media!

6) That there is an open letter written to Trump and Putin, meeting in Hamburg soon, urging them to declare that a nuclear war can’t be won and must never be fought and to cooperate on a series of other issues?
If not, go here – they are politicians, ministers and ambassadors from the US, Russia, Germany and England.

How many of these had you any knowledge about? Read the rest of this entry »

Overcoming nuclear crises

By Richard Falk* and David Krieger**

TFF PressInfo # 420
June 30, 2017

Prefatory Note
This jointly authored essay was initially published in The Hill on May 30, 2017 under the title, “Averting the Ticking Time Bomb of Nukes in North Korea.” We did not choose such a title that is doubly misleading: our contention is not that North Korea is the core of the problem, but rather the retention of nuclear weapons by all of the states pose both crises in the context of counter-proliferation geopolitics and with respect to the possession, deployment, and development of the weaponry itself; a second objection is with the title given the piece by editors at The Hill.

While acknowledging the practice of media outlets to decide on titles without seeking prior approval from authors, this title is particularly objectionable. The term ‘nukes’ gives an almost friendly shorthand to these most horrific of weapons, and strikes a tone that trivializes what should be regarded at all times with solemnity.

Alarmingly, tensions between the United States and North Korea have again reached crisis proportions. The United States wants North Korea to curtail any further development of its nuclear weapons program, as well as to stop testing its missiles. North Korea evidently seeks to bolster its security by acquiring a sufficiently robust deterrent capability to discourage an attack by the United States.

The unpredictable leaders of both countries are pursuing extremely provocative and destabilizing patterns of behavior. Where such a dangerous interaction leads no one can now foresee. The risk of this tense situation spiralling out of control should not be minimized.

It is urgent that all governments concerned make a sober reassessment in a timely manner. The following questions need to be addressed:

• What can be done to defuse this escalating crisis?

• What should be done to prevent further crises in the future?

• What could be learned from recurrent crises involving nuclear weapons states?

It is discouraging that the White House continues to rely mainly on threat diplomacy. It has not worked in responding to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions for the past few decades, and it is crucial to try a different approach.

Currently, there are mixed signals that such a shift may be underway. President Trump has turned to China, imploring that it use its leverage to induce Kim Jong-un to back down, and has even mentioned the possibility of inviting Kim for crisis-resolving talks. Also relevant and hopeful is the election of Moon Jae-in as the new president of South Korea, and his insistent calls for improved relations with the North.

In the end, no reasonable person would opt for another war on the Korean Peninsula. The only rational alternative is diplomacy. But what kind of diplomacy?

American reliance on threat and punitive diplomacy has never succeeded in the past and is almost certain to fail now. We assuredly need diplomacy, but of a different character.

It is time to abandon coercive diplomacy and develop an approach that can be described as restorative diplomacy. Coercive diplomacy relies on a zero/sum calculus consisting of military threats, sanctions, and a variety of punitive measures. Read the rest of this entry »

The hypocrisy of owning nuclear weapons

By Jonathan Power

May 16th 2017

During the French election no candidate talked about France’s nuclear weapons. In Britain, the subject has been raised in its election in an attempt to undermine the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn. But the long-time anti-bomb activist compromised his views, saying in effect he was against them but Labour Party policy was for them.

Meanwhile, the Western nations worry and rage about North Korea’s nuclear weapons development. There is a lack of principle and honesty as well as an overdose of self-delusion as to their effectiveness as a deterrent in this whole bomb game.

We were standing in Hiroshima looking at a stone wall. All there was to see was a shadow of a man. It had been etched into the wall at the moment of his obliteration by the blinding light of the first atomic bomb. Olof Palme, prime minister of Sweden, stared hard at it. An hour later he had to give a speech as head of the Independent Commission on Disarmament of which I was a member. “My fear,” he remarked, “is that mankind itself will end up as nothing more than a shadow on a wall.” Read the rest of this entry »

All options should be on the table with North Korea: Start with negotiations!

By Gunnar Westberg
TFF Board member

April 17, 2017

North Korea was utterly destroyed in the Korean war. The people of DPRK, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, are not allowed to forget that USA considered using nuclear weapons against them.

There are frequent exercises when the population is rushed into underground shelters where they have to stay for days. The perceived, and maybe overblown, threats from the South are an effective way in raising support for the political leaders.

The leaders of DPRK believe that their nuclear weapons will deter an attack from the south. Look at Khadafi in Libya, they say, he gave up his nukes and was attacked. Saddam Hussein had no nukes, he was attacked. We shall not give up the nuclear deterrent as long as we are under threat.

In 1991 USA withdraw all nuclear weapons from South Korea. Subsequently North Korea and South Korea signed the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, whereby both sides promised they would “not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons”.

The North Korean nuclear weapons program was mothballed for a longtime. However, the inspections and negotiations were repeatedly interrupted and the whole agreement was several times in jeopardy.

In 1994 the previous US President Jimmy Carter travelled to Pyongyang to meet with DPRK president Kim Il Sung. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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