NEW YORK (IDN) – As the U.S. presidential elections gather political momentum, one of the key issues that has triggered a provocative debate revolves round the very survival of humanity: the looming threat of an intended or unintended nuclear war.
Come November 8, the U.S. will be making a choice between two contenders: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a candidate of the Democratic Party; and Donald Trump, a self-proclaimed billionaire businessman from New York, a candidate of the Republican Party.
TORONO (IDN) - The World Social Forum (WSF), the largest civil society gathering to find solutions to the problems of our time, will convene for the first time in a northern country – in Canada – from August 9 to 14.
Montreal will host the 12th World Social Forum that was launched in 2001 in Porto Alegre, the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul. One of the key issues in focus will be: “Once a nuclear war starts, there’s no way to limit it.”
GENEVA (IDN) - Kazakhstan will host an international conference on August 28-29 to build and strengthen political will for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, some 15,000 of which are threatening the very survival of humankind.
The conference in Astana is being organised by the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).
It will gather parliamentarians and mayors from around the world, along with a selection of religious leaders, government officials, disarmament experts, policy analysts, civil society campaigners and representatives of international and regional organisations – the United Nations, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
BERLIN | NEW YORK (IDN) - Despite protests by Republican congressional leaders and the heads of Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, President Barack Obama is garnering wide support for his reported plan to implement at least a part of his cherished nuclear agenda through a series of executive actions during the next months before leaving the White House.
None of the executive options Obama is considering require formal congressional approval. In fact, all of those actions would “fall under his executive authority as commander-in-chief”, says David Krieger, president of the U.S.-based Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF).
Krieger is one of the nuclear disarmament pundits whose views IDN solicited in the aftermath of a report in the Washington Post on July 10, which said that executive options Obama is considering, include declaring a “no first use” policy for the United States nuclear arsenal and a UN Security Council resolution affirming a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons as envisaged by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Interview by Ramesh Jaura with CTBTO Chief Dr Lassina Zerbo
BERLIN | VIENNA (IDN | INPS) – If it were for Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the treaty banning all nuclear tests would have entered into force “yesterday”.
This view not only reflects what he terms in a lighter vein his “notoriously optimistic” perspective. It is also grounded in a series of signals underlining that “the discussion about ratification has moved to a new level” so that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, better known by its acronym CTBT, should not remain an “unfinished business”.
In an exclusive email interview with IDN-InDepthNews, flagship of the International Press Syndicate (INPS), he spells out the reasons for his ‘optimism’, adding: A UN Security Council resolution banning nuclear tests, as President Obama is reported to be contemplating, might be a good thing. “But what really counts is the ratification of the remaining eight countries.” These are China, DPRK (North Korea), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.
“In a world where nine countries possess over 15,000 nuclear warheads and global military expenditure is at a staggering US $1676 billion, while terrorism fuelled by extremist ideologies adds to the toxic mix of the traditional causes of war, the folly of not heeding the lessons of Chilcot will be catastrophic,” the Pugwash Conferences’ leaders warn.
The statement released on July 12 is signed by Jayantha Dhanapala, President, Paolo Cotta-Ramusino, Secretary General, Saideh Lotfian, Chair, Pugwash Council, Steve Miller, Chair, Executive Committee, and Tatsujiro Suzuki, Pugwash Executive Committee.
Alyn Ware and Jean-Marie Collin analyse the Declaration of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) early July, calling for taking nuclear weapons off high alert and adopting no-first-use policies. In this context, they explore whether President Obama’s reported plans along the same lines would fly.
BERLIN | PARIS | WELLINGTON (IDN | INPS) - The Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE PA) convened in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, July 1-5 and called on all OSCE States with nuclear weapons or under extended nuclear deterrence relationships to reduce the risks of a nuclear war by taking nuclear weapons off high alert and by adopting no-first-use policies.
TORONTO | INDIANAPOLIS (IDN) - “The largest NATO war games in decades, involving 14,000 U.S. troops, and activation of U.S. missile defenses in Eastern Europe are fueling growing tensions between nuclear-armed giants,” the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) has warned in run-up to the 28-nation North Atlantic Alliance’s summit on July 8-9 in Poland’s capital Warsaw.
The resolution adopted by the USCM’s 84th Annual Meeting June 24-27 in Indianapolis says: “More than 15,000 nuclear weapons, most orders of magnitude more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, 94% held by the United States and Russia, continue to pose an intolerable threat to cities and humanity.”
This article first appeared in THE WIRE. It is being reproduced as part of IDN‘s cooperation with the initiative ‘Youth for CTBTO’. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CTBT. - Editor
VIENNA - Twenty years have passed since the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) opened for signature in 1996. Since then, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has achieved a lot – 183 states have signed the treaty and 164 have ratified it, including some but not all nuclear weapon states.
However, the United States, China, Israel, Iran and Egypt have signed but not ratified the treaty, while India, Pakistan and North Korea have not signed it. A stringent verification regime, in compliance with the treaty’s provisions, has been built and other civil applications of the treaty’s international monitoring systems (IMS) are continuously being developed.
BERLIN | NEW YORK (IDN) – The election of Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of the Security Council has not come as a surprise to observers who have been witness to bold initiatives that this country in Central Asia has launched for the achievement of a nuclear-weapon-free world and sustainable development.
Yet the June 28 vote in favour of Kazakhstan, the world's largest landlocked country, is profoundly historic. The Central Asian state bagged 138 votes in the 193-member UN General Assembly – more than the two-thirds majority of the voting member states required to win the seat on the Council.
Thailand, which currently chairs the Group of 77 comprising 134 developing countries including China, and has demonstrated its commitment to “peace and security of all peoples” and sustainable development, obtained 55 votes.