Editor’s Note: The following represents the writer’s opinion.
“This a critical moment for nuclear disarmament, and for our collective survival,” wrote Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will, commenting on the 10th Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference taking place since August 1 and ending August 26 at the United Nations.
I attended the conference for several days last week as an NGO delegate from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and have been closely watching the negotiations going on for the entire month over an outcome statement for the conference.
After two weeks, a draft preamble was submitted that reaffirms, among other things, “…that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought, and commits to ensuring that nuclear weapons will never be used again under any circumstances.”
This could be an extraordinary breakthrough toward global nuclear disarmament. Right now, 191 countries are represented in this treaty and are seated in the General Assembly hall listening to each other. In the first week, we heard urgent warning statements from the nations without nuclear weapons, such as, “The clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more.” Meanwhile, a representative from Costa Rica scolded, “The lack of firm deadlines has provided the nuclear-armed states with a pathway to disregard their disarmament commitments as flagrantly as they have since the last Review Conference.”
In a hopeful step, 89 non-nuclear states in the last year have either signed or ratified a binding disarmament agreement called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which requires disarmament commitments. These states no longer tolerate the double talk from the nine-nation nuclear mafia made up of UN Security Council member states China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), India, Israel and Pakistan.
How can the United States consider signing the draft preamble while the House and Senate are finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act, which calls for the modernization of its nuclear arsenal? How can the U.S. government even take part in this conference while it is seeking funding for a renewed nuclear edifice of destruction, including Modernized Strategic Delivery Systems and refurbished nuclear warheads? Over the next decade, the United States plans to spend $494 billion on its nuclear forces, or about $50 billion a year, according to a 2019 Congressional Budget Office report. Trillions of dollars for submarines, bombers and buried nuclear missiles. Things they are committing to not use. Please, does this make sense?
At one of the NGO meetings I attended in the basement of the UN, I blurted out, “This conference IS A FRAUD.” The nuclear mafia have no serious plans to disarm, as required by Section 6 of the NPT Treaty. Their duplicity could be rebuked to the world by a walkout in the final days of the conference by the countries that have signed and ratified the agreement, as well as by their supporters.
For the NPT Treaty to collapse would be tragic. But for it to continue when everyone knows it is a lie is a moral and mortal affront to the people of the world.
Robin Lloyd is secretary of the Toward Freedom Board of Directors. She is a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in the United States.