Monday, 26 October 2020

Nuclear Disarmament: they had better really mean it , this time!

Letter submitted to The Guardian: You report (“Symbolic UN nuclear ban to be imposed as 50th state signs up,” The Guardian, 26 October 2020; ) that the permanent five (“P5”) nuclear weapons–possessing states (NWSs), in a unique ‘common cause’, assert that they collectively oppose the “potential repercussions” of the Ban treaty. You bet they do! As it would mean they will have to implement the promise they have all agreed as signatories to the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), under its Article 6, which states, inter alia, to “enter into negotiations in good faith and at an early date on nuclear disarmament.” You also report that the NWS argue that they remain committed to the NPT which, you then write, “seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.” The NPT indeed does attempt to coral this so –called horizontal proliferation, but it equally importantly requires a negotiated halt to, and reversal of, the vertical proliferation of the nuclear arms race by the NWSs. I researched the mid-1960s negotiating record for the NPT in the UK National Archives, and found this commitment to negotiated nuclear disbarment by the UK’s then [Labour] disarmament minister, Fred [later Lord] Mulley plenary meeting of the United Nations’ Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament in Geneva, on 23 January 1968, when he told the ministerial delegations: "As I have made clear in previous speeches, my government accepts the obligation to participate fully in the negotiations required by [NPT] Article 6 and it is our desire that these negotiations should begin as soon as possible and should produce speedy and successful results. There is no excuse now for allowing a long delay to follow the signing of this treaty."( my emphasis) In the 52 years since this commitment, the UK has shown gross bad faith, by not putting a single UK nuclear weapons into multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations, in good faith, or otherwise. This is why the new Ban treaty is not symbolic, but gives teeth to this long-delayed commitment to rid the planet of nuclear WMDs

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