Thursday, 2 January 2014

Has Mandela's moment really passed?

On 2 January 2014 12:23, David Lowry <> wrote:

I wonder whether you are still considering publishing my letter?

Dr David Lowry
To: David Lowry on behalf of Letters Editor ( This sender is in your contact list.
Sent:02 January 2014 19:02:58
To: David Lowry (
Dear Dr Lowry
I'm afraid the moment has passed.

Your letter had a very interesting angle and we would have liked to publish it. But 
it was difficult to accommodate such a long letter. We had shorter ones on Mandela, 
which were easier to place.

Sorry to disappoint you.

Kind regards

Ian Holdsworth
Deputy Letters Editor

Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2013 11:56:47 +0000
Subject: Re: Mandela's nuclear disarmament mission

Dear Dr Lowry

Thank you for your excellent letter - which is on our shortlist for publication.

I've made a slight change to this paragraph about Ukraine and Kazakhstan and 
just want to check with you please that I've interpreted it correctly...

"Former Soviet states, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, also got rid of nuclear WMDs, but 
these were inherited from the former Soviet Union – they had not built the weapons 
themselves as independent states."

Kind regards

Ian Holdsworth
Deputy Letters Editor

On 8 December 2013 14:07, David Lowry <> wrote:

The Editor, letters, The Financial Times


One issue not properly covered in your extensive  news reportage of Nelson Mandela's death and feature coverage celebrating his life (6&7 December) was his international fight to rid the world of the threat from nuclear weapons.

South Africa ended its own nuclear weapons programme in 1989, the year before Mr Mandela was released from prison. Shortly after he was elected President by acclaim on 9 May 1994, on the  19th August  after completing its inspection, the UN's International  Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that one partially completed and six fully completed nuclear weapons had been dismantled, thus making South Africa the first nation to unilaterally  disinvest itself of its nuclear WMDs .

(Former Soviet states the  Ukraine and Kazakhstan also  got rid of nuclear WMDs inherited from the former Soviet Union, but they had not built the weapons themselves as independent states)

South Africa's nuclear disarmament gave President Mandela a huge moral advantage in his campaign against all nuclear WMDs.

In his final speech as  South Africa's President to the United Nations General Assembly on 21st September 1998, he recalled that  the very first resolution of the General Assembly, adopted in January 1946, sought to "address the challenge of the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction."

He drew attention to the document submitted by the non-aligned states, including South Africa,  to the UN General Assembly in 1998 titled Towards a Nuclear Weapon Free World: The Need for a New Agenda," and called upon all members of the United Nations  to "seriously to consider this important resolution and to give it their support."

In his closing remarks he said forcefully:  “We must ask the question, which might sound naive to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction - why do they need them anyway?”

That was an apposite question 15 years ago, and remains just as apposite today. David Cameron rightly described Nelson Mandela as a "true global hero."
He should now answer the late President Mandela's pointed  question

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