2. Science and Technology Experts’ Briefing
Two recent, major meetings highlighted the contradictory directions of nuclear weapons policies.
First, States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty gathered in Vienna April 20- May 11, to assess their 2010 commitment “to pursue policies that are fully compatible with the Treaty and the objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons. “
Later that month, the heads of state of NATO countries gathered in Chicago on May 20-21, 2012. These countries, representing 70% of the world’s $1.7 trillion military expenditures, did nothing to resolve the disconnect between its nuclear posture and the outcome of the 2010 Review Conference.
NATO still maintains a “nuclear sharing” arrangement whereby around 180-200 US B-61 nuclear bombs are “hosted” by five states regarded as non-nuclear-weapon states under the NPT: Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. The November 2010 Lisbon Summit of NATO heads of state and government stated: “The supreme guarantee of the security of the Allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the Alliance, particularly those of the United States; the independent strategic nuclear forces of the United Kingdom and France, which have a deterrent role of their own, contribute to the overall deterrence and security of the Allies.”
GSI is not sitting still in the midst of these contradictions and actively offers sensible routes forward. While we did not have a presence at the NATO Chicago Summit, we did participate robustly in the Nobel Peace Laureate Summit the week prior, and our active engagement in the Vienna-based NPT PrepCom is multidimensional. Our efforts are focused on resolving the contradictory policies in favor of coherence, law, morality, common sense, security, and the fulfillment of promises made.
Before reporting on our efforts in Vienna, we would like to draw your attention to some other noteworthy events and reports shared there:
- At the conference, most non-nuclear weapon states decried the failure to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, lack of progress on the operational status of warheads, on-going modernization of nuclear arsenals, and the continued placement of nuclear weapons outside nuclear weapon states’ territories. These complaints are not new.
- There was a new and intense focus on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and the relevance of international humanitarian law as a basis for advancing disarmament. (See: our recent articles on IHL here) At the conference, a Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Disarmament was presented by Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Holy See, Egypt, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, Switzerland stated. We believe it is of such relevance that it is printed in its entirety below.
- Dr. Ira Helfand Vice President of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), an active member of the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI), and Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN Under Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs and an Expert Consultant to MPI, have taken up this approach and released a powerful report at the Nobel Peace Laureate Summit that describes the humanitarian consequences of a limited nuclear exchange. The report was formally presented and widely distributed at the Vienna conference. We urge your attention to it.
- Also we would like to commend another significant document shared in Vienna published by Reaching Critical Will, Assuring Destruction Forever, on the modernization of nuclear arsenals and the consequences of such activity.
- Dr. James Martin, a new member of GSI’s Board of Advisors, was unable to join the GSI-sponsored event on Science and Technology, but he shared a Chapter titled “The Joker” from his new book, War and Peace in the Nuclear Age. “The Joker” was distributed widely since the issue of the incompatibility of the cyber world and nuclear weapons adds a heightened urgency to our disarmament efforts. He concludes:
- A cyber-skilled enemy may be large or small; it could be one individual or an organization of isolated cells. It might be within one nation, or globally scattered. It might be religious or, perhaps, a suicide bomber. It might be diabolically intellectual or devoid of intellect. It may be angry and emotional, or it may be calculating with a profound set of objectives. It may have a shoe-string budget or be massively financed.
- Super-hackers want medals, like military people, and a top medal might be a demonstrable ability to break into a nuclear war system. A super-hacker might dedicate months of effort to finding out how to put a nuclear defense system on alert and show the results to super-hacker colleagues. He or she might find a way to make Pakistan go to a high level of nuclear alert, and then watch what happens in India. When one country’s system goes on alert, those of other countries may go on corresponding alert. A top qualification might be to make a nuclear system go from DEFCON 5 to DEFCON 4; perhaps even DEFCON 3. (Curiously a major international annual convention on hacking is called DEFCON.)
Excellent background material on the 2012 NPT Conference in Vienna can be found at the websites of the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies and a more in-depth report of the PrepCom and its events can be found at Reaching Critical Will, a project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
- In the world of cyberspace and super-hackers, nothing is certain. It is much too dangerous to have third-era nuclear weapons.
Scientific/Technical Experts’ Briefing on Nuclear Weapons Practices and Policies
All too often, the popular press and the briefing materials provided by self-interested military contractors and planners, along with their legion of economically-bloated “think” tanks, distort or obfuscate important scienfitific data on which nuclear weapons policies are often based.
The Global Security Institute organized a session at the PrepCom to address a limited number of important subjects to help diplomats and experts make empirically-based arguments more effectively.
Speakers included: Dr. Frank von Hippel, Professor and Co-Director of the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs; Ambassador Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO); and Dr. Tariq Rauf, Head of the Verification & Security Policy Coordination department of the International Atomic Energy Agency. GSI President Jonathan Granoff chaired the event.
Dr. von Hippel, a former White House science and security advisor to President Clinton, addressed steps that can be taken to reduce and eliminate risks arising from the existence of bomb grade fisile material. Ambassador Tóth highlighted the successes of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization as examples of how international cooperation can be achieved to strengthen the control and constraint of nuclear weapons. Dr. Rauf gave a sobering presentation of how far our existing institutional capacities can actually take us to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world. It is our belief that in using a scientific and technical framework for analysis our advocacy for a achieving a world without nuclear weapons will be improved.
» Read a transcript of Mr. Granoff’s introductory remarks
» Watch the video of Dr. von Hippel’s presentation
» Watch the video of Ambassador Tóth’s presentation, or view the PDF of his PowerPoint
» Watch the video of the presentation by Dr. Rauf, or read the transcript
MPI Framework Forum
The inaugural meeting of MPI’s Framework Forum was held in Vienna on May 1 with the theme of “Building the Framework for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World: Laying Out the Map.” Held at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy with the support of the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, the roundtable brought together more than 50 representatives from governments and NGOs to examine some of the technical, legal and political requirements for a world free of nuclear weapons.
In this two-session event, speakers included: Ms. Angela Kane, the new UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, President of the 2010 NPT Review Conference; Mr. Ronald Sturm of the Austrian Foreign Ministry; Dr. Jürgen Scheffran of International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation; Dr. John Burroughs of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy; Ambassador Hellmut Hoffman, Permanent Representative of Germany to the Conference on Disarmament; Ms. Uta Zapf, MP, Co-President of the PNND network; Mr. Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator of PNND; and Ms. Xanthe Hall of IPPNW Germany.
» Read the full report by James Wurst
» Read the Briefing Paper “Building the Framework for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World: Laying out the Map”
Scottish MP presents campaign for WMD-Free Middle East
On May 9, Scottish MP Bill Kidd, presented an international parliamentary statement to Finnish Ambassador Jaako Laajava, facilitator of a UN-sponsored conference to be held in Helsinki later this year on establishing a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. The statement, signed by over 270 parliamentarians from 42 countries world-wide including from many in the Middle East, calls on governments to participate in good faith in the Helsinki conference and in the ongoing process to establish such a zone.
“We will all benefit from cooperation amongst the nations of the Middle East against the spectre of nuclear weapons,” said Mr Kidd, who also serves on the Global Council of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND). “Scotland is taking its place in calling for the nuclear weapon states to support the Helsinki conference.”
Presentation to the NPT PrepCom delegates
Jana Jedlicková, PNND Central European Coordinator, delivered a presentation to the States parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, on behalf of parliamentarians and non-governmental organizations that are working with MPs to advance nuclear abolition.
As part of this presentation, Ms. Jedlicková also submitted to the NPT conference a Joint Parliamentary Statement for a Middle East Zone Free from Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction, which has been endorsed by over 270 parliamentarians from 42 countries including many from the Middle East.
» Read the full text of Ms. Jedlicková’s statement
» Read the Joint Parliamentary Statement for a Middle East Zone Free from Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction; also available in Arabic, Czech, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Spanish, and Turkish.
New Agenda Coalition NGO presentation
PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware spoke to the NPT Conference on behalf of a group of experts from New Agenda Coalition countries (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden), noted that “Civil society will be instrumental in building political momentum and helping to overcome hurdles in achieving a zone. The consensus Inter-Parliamentary Union resolution in 2009 and the Parliamentary Statement supporting such a zone which is being presented today, demonstrate the capacity of parliamentarians from countries in the Middle East to reach across the political barriers to find agreement.”
Mr Ware also noted that “governments must elevate the priority they give to nuclear disarmament” and cited the call by the Summit of Latin American countries (CELAC) in December last year for an international conference at the highest level in order to “identify ways and methods to eliminate nuclear weapons as soon as possible” with a view to establishing a framework to “prohibit the development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and also stipulate their destruction.”
» Read the entirety of Mr. Ware’s presentation
“Beyond nuclear ‘deterrence'”: a Nuclear Abolition Forum event
On Wednesday May 9, the Nuclear Abolition Forum sponsored an event entitled “Beyond Nuclear Deterrence towards a Nuclear Weapons Free World.” The Nuclear Abolition Forum is a joint project of the Albert Schweitzer Institute, the Global Security Institute, the International Network of Engineers and Scientists against Nuclear Proliferation, the International Association of Lawyers against Nuclear Arms, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the Middle Powers Initiative, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Afffairs and the World Future Council.
The event, which was divided into two panels: “Testing the validity and utility of nuclear deterrence” and “Security without nuclear deterrence,”functioned as a forum to discuss the current dynamics of nuclear “deterrence” in addition to the necessary political conditions and security mechanisms that might be required to “phase-out” deterrence policy in order to achieve a nuclear weapons-free world.
Speakers included PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware, Dr. John Burroughs of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, Professor Erika Simpson of the University of Western Ontario, Jackie Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation, Nikoali Sokov of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, Jean Pascal Zanders of the EU Institute for Security Studies, Dr. Hiromichi Umebayashi of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition in Nagasaki, and Susi Snyder of the Dutch group, IKV Pak Christi.
» Read a full summary of the event from News in Review, No. 8, 2012
» Read Alyn Ware’s presentation, “Nuclear Deterrence: Time to address the Sacred Cow“
First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
Joint Statement on the humanitarian dimension of nuclear disarmament by Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Holy See, Egypt, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland
I am taking the floor on behalf of Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Holy See, Egypt, Ireland, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, South Africa, and Switzerland. Our countries welcome that the 2010 NPT Review Conference expressed its “deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons” and reaffirmed “the need for all states at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law”.
Serious concerns related to humanitarian dimensions of nuclear weapons have been voiced repeatedly. When the horrific consequences of their use became apparent in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) took a clear position calling for the abolition of these weapons of “extermination”.
The sheer horror of use of nuclear weapons in 1945 was later reflected in the NPT’s Preamble, which makes reference to the “devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war and the consequent need to make every effort to avert the danger of such a war and to take measures to safeguard the security of peoples”.
If such weapons were to be used again, be it intentionally or accidentally, immense humanitarian consequences would be unavoidable. In addition to the immediate fatalities, survivors of the horrendous effects of a nuclear explosion would endure immeasurable suffering. International organisations providing emergency relief would be unable to fulfill their mandates, as the ICRC has already concluded. Studies have shown that the radiation released by even a single nuclear weapon affects populations, agriculture and natural resources over a very wide area and constitutes a threat for future generations. Further studies conclude that even a “limited nuclear exchange” – in itself a contradiction in terms – would provoke a global climate change with serious and long-lasting impact on the environment and food production, which could cause a global famine affecting over a billion people.
Nuclear weapons have the destructive capacity to pose a threat to the survival of humanity and as long as they continue to exist the threat to humanity will remain. This, coupled with the perceived political value and prestige attached to these weapons, are further factors that encourage proliferation and non-compliance with international obligations. Moreover, it is of great concern that, even after the end of the cold war, the threat of nuclear annihilation remains part of the 21st century international security environment.
The utility of these instruments of mass destruction to confront traditional security challenges has been questioned by many States as well as civil society experts. Moreover, nuclear weapons are useless in addressing current challenges such as poverty, health, climate change, terrorism or transnational crime. It seems at least questionable to use vast financial resources each year for maintaining, modernizing and expanding nuclear arsenals in times of decreasing funds available for social welfare, health care or education. The choice should be clear.
In addition to the grave humanitarian concerns, the use of nuclear weapons also raises important legal issues. Nuclear weapons are unique because of their destructive capacity and because of their uncontrollable effects in space and time. All rules of international humanitarian law apply fully to nuclear weapons; those rules notably include the rules of distinction, proportionality and precaution, as well as the prohibition to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering and the prohibition to cause widespread, severe and long-term damage to the environment. Recently, the Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement adopted a Resolution emphasizing not only the incalculable human suffering resulting from any use of nuclear weapons but also stressing that it is difficult to envisage how any use of nuclear weapons could be compatible with the rules of international humanitarian law.
It is of utmost importance that these weapons never be used again, under any circumstances. The only way to guarantee this is the total, irreversible and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, under effective international control, including through the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT. All States must intensify their efforts to outlaw nuclear weapons and achieve a world free of nuclear weapons. Civil society plays a crucial role in raising the awareness about the dramatic humanitarian consequences as well as the critical IHL implications of nuclear weapons.
The full implementation of the NPT 2010 Action Plan as well as of previous NPT outcomes is an important step in this regard. For this review cycle, it is essential that the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are thoroughly addressed. We call on States Parties, especially the nuclear weapon States, to give increasing attention to their commitment to comply with international law and international humanitarian law. This should also be adequately reflected in the outcome of the 2015 Review Conference.
Thank you very much for your attention.
Jonathan Granoff is the President of the Global Security Institute, a representative to United Nations of the World Summits of Nobel Peace Laureates, a former Adjunct Professor of International Law at Widener University School of Law, and Senior Advisor to the Committee on National Security American Bar Association International Law Section.