How to ban the bomb

IssueDecember 2007 - January 2008
Feature by Kate Hudson

Are the US, UK and others that are increasing the pressure on Iran genuinely concerned about nuclear proliferation? After all, the IAEA reports that there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.

Many people feel that the US has another agenda. Cynicism about the stated concerns of the US is not surprising, given that the case for war against Iraq was based on lies about possession of WMD.

And if you look at the record of nuclear weapons states on non-proliferation, their hypocrisy is staggering.

Bad faith

Over 35 years since the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) came into force, the nuclear weapons states still have their arsenals, despite their commitment under Article VI of the NPT to “pursue negotiations in good faith” leading to global nuclear disarmament.

Their failure to disarm is widely understood to be the key driver towards nuclear proliferation. As former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has pointed out, while some countries say they need nuclear weapons for their security, other countries will come to the same conclusion.

The need for nuclear disarmament has been championed recently by such unlikely figures as Henry Kissinger.

Indeed, our own government, since the change of prime minister, has recognised that disarmament must go hand in hand with non-proliferation and that failure to do so will have negative consequences.

Is it feasible?

But is disarmament actually viable? Can nuclear weapons be abolished?

How many times have you heard people say “You can't `uninvent' nuclear weapons”?

But the answer is clear: you can ban nuclear weapons in the same way that chemical and biological weapons are banned - and as land mines have been banned since 1999.

Nuclear abolition is not a utopian fantasy, not only because a number of nuclear weapons states have already disarmed, and the majority of the globe is covered by nuclear-weapons-free zones - but also because a perfectly practical draft treaty exists at the UN for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

The overwhelming majority of states in the UN - 125 out of 181 governments - voted in 2006 for negotiations to start immediately. That includes three nuclear-armed states: China, India and Pakistan.

We can

The draft Convention prohibits the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

The phased process of destruction of nuclear weapons will be covered by stringent verification and inspection procedures, which will continue to enforce the ban while nuclear energy production continues.

The popularity of this demand, with peoples as well as governments, has led to the international campaign to abolish nuclear weapons, ICAN, founded by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

In Britain, the focus of the campaign is both anti-Trident replacement and pro-Nuclear Weapons Convention.

CND and Medact, the UK branch of the IPPNW, have produced a petition making those demands (available from ).

These are both realisable goals, so put the pressure on now: take action, sign the petition and get your MP to sign EDM 72 calling for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Topics: Nuclear weapons