Sunday, 31 January 2021
Letter sent to The Guardian newspaper: International trade secretary Liz Truss was all over the airwaves on Sunday selling the merits of her advanced plans to join the 11-nation trans-Pacific partnership (https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/30/uk-to-apply-to-join-free-trade-pact-with-nations-on-other-side-of-world) Meanwhile, global climate change conference ( COP26) President Alok Sharma, the former business secretary, has himself been pressing the UK case for wide-ranging initiatives to address the looming problems of climate change, most recently his video speech to the World Economic Forum business 'virtual Davos 2021' conference last Friday on “'Mobilizing Climate Action (“Race to Zero Breakthroughs launched,, 29 Jan.;https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/race-to-zero-breakthroughs-launched) But there is a clear disconnect between Truss and Sharma, and a lack of joined up government thinking. The media to promote the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)(https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-applies-to-join-huge-pacific-free-trade-area-cptpp) makes much of the benefits to UK exports of eliminating tariffs to these Pacific rim nations, stressing that UK trade with the group has been growing by 8% a year since 2016, and was worth was worth £111 billion in 2019. But the physical exports to such countries many thousands of miles away, whether by cargo plane or ship, with have a significant carbon footprint, something Ms Truss does not mention at all. Indeed, international shipping is a significant contributor to global carbon emissions, that barely receives any political or media attention. To be sure the CPTPP deal’s modern digital trade rules will also allow data to flow freely between members, which will not incur a negative carbon credit. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is reported to have said of the proposed CPTPP deal that it “demonstrates our ambition to do business all over the world and be an enthusiastic champion of global free trade.” But how is this aim compatible with his also stated aim for the UK be a global leading light in promoting sustainable measures to combat climate change?
Tuesday, 26 January 2021
Letter sent to The Guardian newspaper: Your defence and security editor quotes an anonymous Foreign Office official as asserting that rather than supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (“the Ban treaty”) the UK Government supports “gradual multilateral nuclear disarmament.” (“UN nuclear arms treaty comes into force today,” 22 January 2021). Foreign office minister Lords Ahmad of Wimbledon re-inforced this position when he told peers in a mini-debate on the Ban treaty in the Lords on 20 January “ [the Ban treaty] fails to offer a realistic path to global nuclear disarmament and, importantly, risks undermining the effective non-proliferation and disarmament architecture that we already have in place, in particular the work that has already been achieved with key partners on the NPT [multilateral nuclear non-proliferation treaty]” (https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2021-01-21/debates/DCB6C09F-E381-42B2-AA59-7DCA1984D34C/ProhibitionOfNuclearWeapons) Papers I discovered at the UK National Archives in Kew show that on 23 January 1968, Fred (later Lord) Mulley, as the UK Labour Government's minister of state for foreign affairs, addressing the 358th plenary meeting of the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) in Geneva, ( the predecessor committee to the current UN Committee on Disarmament) explained to ministerial delegations why nations should sign up to the newly negotiated NPT: "As I have made clear in previous speeches, my government accepts the obligation to participate fully in the [nuclear disarmament] 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." (emphasis added) Shortly after, on January 26 1968, a confidential memo by Mulley for the cabinet defence and oversea (sic) policy committee laid out Britain's position on the key nuclear disarmament clause, which became NPT article 6, commented: " It will be essential to follow the treaty up quickly with the further disarmament measures if it is to be brought into force and remain in force thereafter." A few days afterwards, on 30 January 1968, and the NPT was presented to the cabinet for its endorsement. A supportive foreign office memo stated: "a lot of the thinking behind the treaty, and some of the language, originally came from us." On 27 June that year, the NPT, including the key article 6 obligation on nuclear weapon signatory states, to negotiate nuclear disarmament in good faith, was presented to parliament as Cmnd 3683. In the fifty years since the multilateral NPT came into force, not one British nuclear weapon or nuclear warhead has been withdrawn from service or dismantled as a result of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. How much longer should we wait for ”speedy” results?
Friday, 22 January 2021
Today, across the globe, it is a day of international celebration. For the first time since the very first nuclear device was exploded in the early hours of 16 July 1945 near Socorro in New Mexico, nuclear weapons became illegal under international law! The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) – the “Ban Treaty” - entered into force today, three years after being negotiated at the UN General Assembly ( when it was backed by 122 nations) and 90 days after the 50th country joined the Treaty on 24 October 2020 (my birthday). This important multilateral treaty completes the project to ban all three categories of weapons of mass destruction after biological weapons were banned in 1975, and chemical weapons in 1997. But not all is sweetness and light. The British Government – just as all those states with nuclear weapons of mass destruction - rejects the Ban Treaty Foreign office minister Lords Ahmad of Wimbledon made the UK position clear when he told peers in a mini-debate on the Ban treaty in the Lords on 21 January this week “[the Ban treaty] fails to offer a realistic path to global nuclear disarmament and, importantly, risks undermining the effective non-proliferation and disarmament architecture that we already have in place, in particular the work that has already been achieved with key partners on the NPT [multilateral nuclear non-proliferation treaty] (https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2021-01-21/debates/DCB6C09F-E381-42B2-AA59-7DCA1984D34C/ProhibitionOfNuclearWeapons) Papers I discovered at the UK National Archives in Kew show that on 23 January 1968, Fred (later Lord) Mulley, as the UK Labour Government's minister of state for foreign affairs, addressing the 358th plenary meeting of the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (ENDC) in Geneva, ( the predecessor committee to the current UN Committee on Disarmament) explained why nations should sign up to the newly negotiated NPT, told the ministerial delegations: "As I have made clear in previous speeches, my government accepts the obligation to participate fully in the [nuclear disarmament] negotiations required by [NPT] Article VI 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." (emphasis added) Shortly after, on January 26 1968, a confidential memo by Mulley for the cabinet defence and oversea (sic) policy committee laid out Britain's position on the key nuclear disarmament clause, which became NPT article 6, commented: " It will be essential to follow the treaty up quickly with the further disarmament measures if it is to be brought into force and remain in force thereafter." A few days afterwards, on 30 January 1968, and the NPT was presented to the cabinet for its endorsement. A supportive foreign office memo stated: "a lot of the thinking behind the treaty, and some of the language, originally came from us." On 27 June that year, the NPT, including the key article 6 obligation on nuclear weapon signatory states, to negotiate nuclear disarmament in good faith, was presented as a formal treaty document to parliament as Cmnd 3683. In the fifty years since the multilateral NPT came into force, not one British nuclear weapon or nuclear warhead has been withdrawn from service or dismantled as a result of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. In the Lords debate on “Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” Lord Ahmad told the Bishop of Coventry, who initiated the debate: “the Government have been clear that they will not sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We do not believe that this treaty will bring us closer to a world without such weapons. The Government believe that the best way to achieve our collective goal of a world without nuclear weapons is through gradual multilateral disarmament, negotiated using a step-by-step approach. We must take account of the international security environment and work under the framework of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.” The Bishop of Coventry pointed out that “as of 22 January the TPNW will be no less a reality for the UK than for countries that support it. It will be no less a reality for states that possess nuclear weapons than for those that do not. The UN Secretary-General has described this new treaty as ‘a further pillar of the disarmament regime,’ and asked “since the new treaty and its underlying humanitarian motivations will loom large over any future discussion of our non-proliferation responsibilities, what preparations are being made by the Government to engage with it constructively? Will they commit to attend, as an observer state, the first meeting of states party to the treaty, as Sweden and Switzerland are doing? Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon failed to answer the question about observer status, but widened his opposition to the Ban treaty replying to Labour peer Baroness Blower: “There are major challenges with this treaty, including the fact that it does not look at the existing security architecture, including our obligations to NATO. It does not look at how we deal with the threats from nations such as the DPRK.” In other words, as NATO is fundamentally a military Alliance based on nuclear weapons, ministers have no intention of negotiating away its nuclear WMDs, multilaterally or bilaterally. Indeed, he later told Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: “We remain very committed to a minimum but credible independent nuclear deterrent.” Somewhat surprisingly, a Conservative peer, Lord Bates, then challenged the minister, (after pointing out first resolution of the UN General Assembly, held 75 years ago this weekend across the road in the Methodist Central Hall called for nuclear disarmament) by asking “How could my noble friend use this anniversary to advance our declared ambition of the complete elimination of all these weapons of mass destruction before it is too late? Lord Ahmad obtusely retorted: “.. Our commitment to our obligations and our adherence to the rules-based system of international law and the treaties that we are part of will ensure the very objective he seeks and I seek as well.” Labour peer Lord Judd expressed skepticism over the genuineness of this stated commitment asking: “does the Minister agree that any advance that has been made in any of the conventions on nuclear weapons so far has been achieved in the context of firm undertaking by nuclear powers, including us, to steadily reduce the number of nuclear weapons at their disposal? There seems to be quite a lot of room for doubt about the commitment of some nuclear powers at the moment. Is it not a priority for the British Government to get together with the new Administration in the United States, and indeed with the French, to discuss how we should be carrying the new situation forward?” Lord Ahmad, obtuse once more asserted:“…we will continue to engage with the US and with the P5 process. “ The Ban Treaty contains important provisions to provide for the restoration of environmental and health rights of communities and peoples who have suffered from the development and testing of nuclear WMDs. This was highlighted inan excellent analytical article by historian Dr Kate Hudson, national secretary of CND, published today (“Light at the end of the nuclear tunnel,” Morning Star, 22 January 2021; https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/light-at-the-end-of-the-nuclear-tunnel) Also published this week is an insightful academic review of two of the island locations desecrated by British and US atmospheric nuclear tests in the South Pacific in the 1950s. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1758-5899.12913?fbclid=IwAR0c2caol8dyHNnXzHZcxkGSFJl9Mnfsl2_VTJdDiFdJdQ5S9ERx0CoKKrk) Addressing the Humanitarian and Environmental Consequences of Atmospheric Nuclear Weapon Tests: A Case Study of UK and US Test Programs at Kiritimati (Christmas) and Malden Islands, Republic of Kiribati Becky Alexis‐Martin Matthew Breay Bolton Dimity Hawkins Sydney Tisch Talei Luscia Mangioni First published: 20 January 2021 https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.12913 SECTIONS PDF TOOLS SHARE Abstract Between 1957 and 1962, the UK and USA conducted 33 atmospheric nuclear weapons test detonations at or close to Malden and Kiritimati (Christmas) Islands (total yield 31 megatons), formerly British colonial territories in the central Pacific region, now part of the Republic of Kiribati. Some 40,000 British, Fijian, New Zealand and US civilian and military personnel participated in the test program and 500 i‐Kiribati civilians lived on Kiritimati at the time. This article reviews humanitarian and environmental consequences of the UK and US nuclear weapons testing programs in Kiribati, as well as the policy measures that have addressed them. The authors contend that policy interventions to date have not adequately addressed the needs and rights of test survivors, nor ongoing environmental concerns. They argue that the victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offer an important new opportunity for addressing the consequences of nuclear detonations in Kiribati, by focusing policy attention and constituting a new field of development assistance. Policy Implications • Policy interventions to date have not adequately addressed the needs and rights of survivors of the UK and US nuclear test program in Kiribati, nor ongoing environmental concerns. • The victim assistance and environmental remediation obligations in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons offer an important new opportunity for addressing the consequences of nuclear detonations. • Humanitarian and human rights framing of the effects of nuclear testing offer an alternative both to denialism and the litigation and liability model. • Victims of nuclear testing seek not only medical assistance, but also support for practices of recognition, acknowledgement and memorialization to address psycho‐social and cultural consequences of the test programs. • Policy interventions should acknowlege the intrinsic value many Pacific peoples place on the environment, not only its instrumental worth. Between 1957 and 1962, the UK and USA conducted 33 atmospheric nuclear weapon test detonations at Malden and Kiritimati (Christmas) Islands (see data Table S1, available online), formerly British colonial territories in the central Pacific region that are now part of the Republic of Kiribati.1. The total yield of all detonations was equivalent to 31,122 kilotons of TNT (Johnston, 2009) – approximately 865 times the total energy released by the atomic bombs dropped by the US on Japan in 1945. Some 40,000 British, Fijian, Aotearoa New Zealand and US civilian and military personnel participated in the test program. Their work cemented Britain’s status as a thermonuclear power but also placed them in harsh conditions with limited resources. About 500 i‐Kiribati civilians lived on Kiritimati at the time. Many test personnel and i‐Kiribati inhabitants claim their health was adversely affected by exposure to the blast, heat and radioactive energy released by the tests, as well as the psychosocial context in which they occurred. Some suggest their descendants have also suffered physically and psychologically. However, comprehensive analysis of the ongoing humanitarian and environmental impact of nuclear weapons testing at Kiritimati and Malden Islands has been inadequate. There has been little systematic radiological monitoring of the test sites and so the extent and significance of ongoing contamination is unclear. For a map of Kiritimati, see Figure 1. igure 1 Open in figure viewerPowerPoint FUS Defense Department map of Kiritimati Atoll, Republic of Kiribati Source: DNA (1983). The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted by 122 governments at the United Nations in 2017, is not just a categorical ban. It also obligates provision of assistance to victims of nuclear weapons use and testing and remediation of contaminated environments (Article 6). All states parties must engage in international cooperation and assistance to support such efforts by affected states parties (Article 7). Kiribati was among the first states to sign the new treaty in September 2017 and ratified in 2019. Along with other nuclear‐armed states, the UK and USA currently oppose the TPNW, as they remain committed to maintaining their nuclear arsenals. However, the other two states whose citizens participated in the tests, New Zealand and Fiji, are also states parties. The TPNW will enter into force 22 January 2021. This article reviews humanitarian and environmental consequences of the UK and US nuclear weapons testing programs at Kiritimati and Malden Islands, as well as the policy measures and practices that have addressed these consequences, whether in Kiribati itself, or other jurisdictions where atomic veterans live. We contend the policy interventions to date have so far not adequately addressed the needs and human rights of test survivors, nor ongoing environmental concerns. We believe the TPNW offers an important new opportunity for addressing the consequences of nuclear detonations in Kiribati, by focusing policy attention on the issue and constituting a new field of development assistance. We compile findings from separate but mutually reinforcing research projects on the consequences of test programs in Kiribati. Dr. Becky Alexis‐Martin has undertaken 144 semi‐structured interviews with British nuclear test veterans and their descendants and 15 open‐ended interviews with women from Kiritimati as part of her Nuclear Families and Atomic Atolls projects from 2016 to 2019. She has undertaken extensive ethnographic research of memorialization and the experience of nuclear warfare. (Alexis‐Martin, 2016a; Alexis‐Martin, 2016b; Alexis‐Martin, 2019a; Alexis‐Martin, 2019b; Alexis‐Martin, et al, 2019; Alexis‐Martin and Davies, 2017). Dr. Matthew Breay Bolton (2018a, 2018b) conducted field research in Kiritimati in 2018 and has also conducted related interviews and archival research in Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and, with the help of Sydney Tisch, the USA, 2018–2019. This paper builds upon Bolton’s (2018a, 2018b) working papers that have circulated in policy arenas. Dimity Hawkins, at Swinburne University, has been engaging in an in‐depth project documenting Fiji’s intersection with the history of Pacific nuclear testing. Through a combination of extant literature and archival research as well as oral histories, her project explores the emergence of anti‐nuclear activism and government engagement around the time of Fijian independence and early Pacific decolonization. Talei Luscia Mangioni is a Fijian researcher in Pacific Studies at the Australian National University, her creative scholarship charts the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement across Oceania through historical ethnography, film‐making and archiving. Across all these research projects, there are noteworthy challenges in interdisciplinary qualitative research, due to its inherently subjective, extensible and complex nature. While interview‐based approaches offer rich insights into the human experience of the nuclear, the qualitative has an inherently intuitive element and has been described as an art rather than a rigorous scientific process (Miles et al., 2019). Regardless, there is considerable intrinsic value to the qualitative domain, as it can amplify the voices of people who may otherwise not be heard by the establishment and/or state (Weiss and Fine, 2004). For this reason, personal stories and testimonies of both islanders and veterans provide vital insights into the long‐term consequences of US and UK Pacific nuclear weapon testing. There are additional complications involved in assessing health risks and health outcomes resulting from exposure to ionizing radiation. While a certainty is presented by the very detonation of the nuclear weapon tests themselves, a militarized culture of secrecy surrounds the extent, capacity for exposure and long‐term consequences to local inhabitants of the spaces used for testing – and the young men and women who undertook nuclear weapon testing work. The circulation of radioactive particles through ecosystems and human bodies occurs in complex and nonlinear ways. Ambiguities about risk are exacerbated by limited research and active denial by the governments that carried out the tests, especially the UK (see the Sanders‐Zakre and Van Duzer commentary in this Special Section for further comparison of the US and UK approaches to documentation, compensation and litigation; also, Maclellan, 2017a; Roff, 2018). Exposures have not been comprehensively assessed through all the potential pathways, including external exposure, inhalation and ingestion. Measuring multiple health conditions, each with changing multifactorial causation, accurately over long timeframes is difficult, and attribution even more difficult (UNSCEAR, 2015). This creates challenges for those seeking to establish clear lessons for policy and practice in victim assistance and environmental remediation. This article thus summarizes evidence the authors have been able to gather but in no way purports itself to be comprehensive in scope. Rather, we hope that our work prompts further, more in‐depth and technical efforts to understand and ameliorate the suffering resulting from the test programs. A further concern arises from the colonial history of Kiribati and its relationship to military powers that have sought to use its ecosystems, oceans and people for their own ends. Nuclear test programs represented a nadir of Western scientific exploitation, with disastrous consequences for the environments and people in the marginalized zones chosen as sites of experimentation (Banivanua Mar, 2016; DeLoughrey, 2013; Teaiwa, 2008). The authors are not residents of Kiribati. We ourselves did not participate in the test program. We have sought to be conscious, reflexive and careful about the implications of our social locations by circulating drafts of our research widely with officials, scholars and civil society advocates in and from the region for feedback. We see the role of this article not as recommending policy per se, which must be the preserve of the people most affected, but rather highlighting concerns and offering potential tools for addressing them. The next section provides background on the UK and US nuclear weapons test programs in Kiribati. This is followed by an overview of the humanitarian consequences of the test programs in Kiribati itself; among atomic veterans from the UK, USA, Fiji and New Zealand; and potential effects elsewhere in the Pacific. A similar section then considers the environmental consequences of the tests. We then outline the various policy responses to the humanitarian and environmental consequences to the tests, in Kiribati, as well as jurisdictions responsible for atomic veterans. We conclude with reflections on the potential contribution the TPNW might play in supporting effective policies. Conclusion Just over six years ago, in early December 2014, I attended the conference organized in Vienna by the Austrian foreign ministry, on The Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons (https://www.bmeia.gv.at/en/european-foreign-policy/disarmament/weapons-of-mass-destruction/nuclear-weapons/vienna-conference-on-the-humanitarian-impact-of-nuclear-weapons/), and a supporting conference organized by ICAN ( the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), who subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work done on the Ban Treaty. I made a near 50 page submission on the health and impact of uranium mining - for nuclear warhead production - on the communities and people involved, which was published as part of the Conference proceedings.( “ Uranium Exploitation and Environmental racism: Why environmental despoliation and the ignorance of radiological risks of uranium mining cannot be justified by the nuclear weapons states for the procurement of the raw stock material for their nuclear explosives,” Vienna, 8-9 December 2014 https://www.bmeia.gv.at/fileadmin/user_upload/Zentrale/Aussenpolitik/Abruestung/HINW14/Statements/HINW14_Statement_David_Lowry.pdf) Backstory The Ban Treaty coming into effect has received media coverage globally. Here are some reports from Hawaii, Japan, US, Geneva and UK Today, Friday 22 January 2021, nuclear weapons became illegal under international law! The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into force today, three years after being negotiated at the UN General Assembly and 90 days after the 50th country joined the Treaty on 24 October 2020. UNA-UK welcomes this important multilateral Treaty which completes the project to ban all three categories of weapons of mass destruction after biological weapons were banned in 1975, and chemical weapons in 1997. While the UK does not currently support this Treaty, pressure is mounting on the Government to engage constructively with it, and ultimately, to join it. Today, we are calling on UNA-UK supporters to assist this project. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is running a Cities Appeal, asking cities and local authorities across the world to endorse the Treaty. So far cities and local authorities across the UK including Manchester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Brighton and Hove, Norwich and Leeds, have signed up to support the Treaty’s implementation. With your help we would like to dramatically increase the list. Please ask your city or local authority to join the growing list! Here you can access an adaptable template letter, which you can send to your city or local authority imploring them to endorse the Treaty and take a stand for nuclear disarmament. A full list of all cities and local authorities signed up so far can be viewed here, and you can access further resources and information on how the Appeal is impacting policy makers here. The complete elimination of nuclear weapons remains the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations. UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, recognised the instrumental role of civil society in facilitating the negotiation and ratification of the TPNW and called on all states to work together to realise the ambition of a world free from nuclear weapons. UNA-UK is a proud partner organisation of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons - the 2017 Nobel Prize laureate. Please join us in this campaign by urging your local authorities to take action. Just as civil society was instrumental in advancing the entry into force of this treaty, civil society can also be instrumental in building support for the treaty and taking action to push their national governments to join. This is it. We have made history. Today, the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons enters into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law. Getting here took decades of tireless work by millions of people from all over the world, and we would have loved to fill the streets to commemorate this huge victory with them and reaffirm our commitment to seeing a world free of nuclear weapons. Of course, today's reality is a little different, so we are filling social media with this wonderful news. We're already trending in ICAN's HQ Switzerland but we'd love the entire world to see this. Will you help us spread the world? [amplify.icanw.org/campaign/B8AE84F5-A6F7-4BDE-92D0-24F66DD77A4D]Celebrate We took the liberty of creating some tweets you can share on your own accounts, with just one click! If you don’t use Twitter, don’t worry, you can find a post and image for your social media of choice [amplify.icanw.org/campaign/B8AE84F5-A6F7-4BDE-92D0-24F66DD77A4D]here. And if you want to get some inspiration from what others are saying, and to see all the celebrations around the world, check out our live social media wall at icanw.org/entryintoforce We did it! Today, nuclear weapons become illegal under international law as the UN Treaty on the Prohibitions of Nuclear Weapons - or #nuclearban treaty - enters into force. Join the celebrations all around the world: Share post The big day is here! Today, nuclear weapons become illegal under international law. Join the celebrations all around the world using #nuclearban and watch our live event at 9PM CET: https://icanw.org/entryintoforce #nuclearban Share post Thank you ! Beatrice Fihn Executive Director ICAN OPINION: Japan and the nuclear ban treaty https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/01/6213ad3afd94-opinion-japan-and-the-nuclear-ban-treaty.html By Daryl G. Kimball, KYODO NEWS - Jan 21, 2021 - 14:51 | For the first time since the United States' devastating atomic bomb attacks on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons development, production, possession, use, threat of use, and stationing nuclear weapons in another country are all expressly prohibited by an international agreement: the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which enters into force Jan. 22. The new treaty is a much-needed wake-up call that strengthens the international norm against nuclear weapons. It is consistent with the decades-long plea of the Hibakusha that never again should anyone experience "nuclear hell on earth." Daryl G. Kimball. (Kyodo) The treaty is also a powerful reminder that security policies that rely on nuclear deterrence -- which involves the threat of the use of nuclear weapons and death on a massive scale -- are immoral, dangerous, and unsustainable. Because the leaders of the United States and its allies, such as Japan, still believe that the threat of using nuclear weapons is necessary for their defense, they have criticized the treaty. However, the treaty, which was negotiated and is supported by a majority of the world's nations is now a reality. All states -- whether they oppose, support, or are skeptical of the treaty -- need to learn to live with it responsibly and find creative ways to work together toward their common objectives: preventing nuclear war and ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Going forward, the new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden can and should publicly recognize the treaty as a constructive effort designed to help fulfill Article VI Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty disarmament obligations and build the legal framework for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. The nuclear ban treaty should also prompt U.S. allies like Japan to reconsider whether nuclear deterrence is really necessary for their defense and how they can move toward an alternative, more sustainable, and less risky defense strategy. They must also be more energetic in pressing the nuclear-armed states to fulfill their NPT disarmament commitments. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga can start by directing the Foreign Ministry to work with nuclear ban treaty states and nuclear-armed states to forge agreement on a meaningful plan of action at the once-every-five-years review conference for the NPT in August. This plan of action could include: -- deeper cuts in all types of the massive U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. -- multilateral talks involving other nuclear-armed states, including China, to cap the size of their smaller but still deadly nuclear stockpiles. -- a multilateral agreement on no first use of nuclear weapons. -- securing the remaining ratifications needed to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into force. -- agreeing, as presidents Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev did in 1985, that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." They should also agree that nuclear ban treaty does not create a legal framework that competes with the NPT, but rather, it makes the existing universe of legal instruments around the NPT stronger. The new treaty may not reduce the nuclear danger overnight, but it has already changed the conversation. Japan's leaders should recognize that the treaty can help move the world in the direction that all nations say they want -- a world free of the fear of another nuclear hell on earth. (Daryl G. Kimball is executive director of the independent, nongovernmental Arms Control Association based in Washington) The Treaty To Ban The Bomb Takes Effect https://www.civilbeat.org/2021/01/the-treaty-to-ban-the-bomb-takes-effect/ Fifty-one nations have now ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Will the United States sign? By Helen Jaccard January 21, 2021 ________________________________________ About the Author Helen Jaccard Helen Jaccard is the project manager of the Golden Rule peace boat. ________________________________________ Great news: On Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, the United Nations’ Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons goes into force. Three and a half years ago, on July 7, 2017, the United Nations General Assembly approved the language of this treaty by a vote of 122 to 1. The vote was a clear expression of the will of the world’s people and the treaty has now been ratified by 51 nations. Under international law, nuclear weapons will join chemical weapons, biological weapons, cluster bombs and land mines as illegal weapons of mass destruction. The Golden Rule anti-nuclear sailboat arrived in Hawaii on July 31, 2019 from San Diego, California. The 34-foot ketch, a project of Veterans For Peace, has now sailed to the islands of Hawaii, Maui, Lanai, Oahu and Kauai to promote the treaty. The crew of the Golden Rule has presented to over 100 audiences on those islands and on Molokai about the dangers of nuclear weapons. The Golden Rule Project has been welcomed by the Hawaii Legislature and the governments of each of Hawaii’s four counties. Mahalo, Hawaii, for your aloha spirit. The nuclear missile attack scare in the islands three years ago compelled many of the people of Hawaii to join worldwide efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. On Nov. 6, 2019, Honolulu County passed a resolution to welcome the Golden Rule and to urge the U.S. government to ratify the treaty and to take other measures to bring us back from the brink of nuclear war. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons prohibits signatory countries from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, deploying, transporting, financing, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons and also from assisting or encouraging such acts. The Golden Rule sails in the waters off Diamond Head last August. The Nuclear Ban Treaty is a milestone in the long march toward nuclear abolition. This is a moment to urge all the nuclear powers to sign the treaty and begin the process of the de-nuclearization of the world. Nowhere is this more important than in the United States, which holds almost half of the world’s nuclear weapons. None of the world’s nine nuclear-armed nations have yet signed on to the treaty. These nuclear powers are in violation of the 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires them to negotiate in good faith to reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons. Instead, the United States and other nuclear powers are developing new generations of nuclear weapons, alarming many experts who believe the threat of nuclear war is greater than ever. The United States government will spend over $1.7 trillion of our tax dollars over the next 30 years to “upgrade” its arsenal of nuclear weapons. Powerful and influential corporations make billions of dollars from the nuclear programs and contribute to members of Congress, who vote to continue nuclear weapons production. These corporations make astronomical profits from weapons that would doom civilization. Our nation can be a leader in the peace race, but only if our leaders hear a loud message from the people: Nuclear weapons are very dangerous for humanity and now they are also illegal. We must have a future free of weapons of mass destruction. The United States must take immediate actions to stop the possibility of nuclear war and to show leadership in the worldwide effort to eliminate all nuclear weapons. The future of humanity hangs in the balance. Political leaders need to hear from everyday people who are rightfully concerned about the very survival of human civilization. We must demand that the United States and all the nuclear powers sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and begin the de-nuclearization of the planet. The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its leadership in working to pass the treaty. Veterans For Peace and the Golden Rule Project were a part of that campaign and share in the Nobel Peace Prize. Celebrate the nuclear weapons ban treaty and talk with friends, neighbors, relatives and your elected representatives about the treaty and the need to prevent the possibility of nuclear war. Sign The TPNW coming into force and the NPT RevCon https://www.scrapweapons.com/the-tpnw-coming-into-force-and-the-npt-revcon/ The TPNW renders nuclear weapons illegal under international law, but what about the non-signatories? Anant Saria Research Manager, SCRAP Weapons The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has come into force on January 22, 2021, 90 days after achieving its 50th ratification from Honduras on 24th October, 2020. This essentially means that nuclear weapons will be rendered illegal under International Law as soon as the treaty comes into force. However, the biggest impediment is that no nuclear weapon state has signed or ratified the treaty, and therefore the treaty is not binding for such states. Nonetheless, it serves its purpose of setting a norm in international politics. There has been active resistance from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states towards the treaty. Netherlands, the only NATO state present at the voting of the treaty, voted against it citing that it cannot ‘sign up to any instrument that is incompatible with our NATO obligations, that contains inadequate verification provisions or that undermines the Non-Proliferation Treaty.’ With the TPNW coming into force, what it typically means is that, although international law claims nuclear weapons are illegal, the ones that possess them do not agree in their illegality. This does trickle down to the enforceability of the illegality of nuclear weapons under international law. Two factors are intertwined in this case: 1) The establishment of a norm (like Responsibility to Protect – R2P) through international consensus; 2) the enforcement of such norms for states that probably did not ‘sign up to’ or agree with the norm. In practice, this entails that those states (and International Organisations, such as NATO) which already have a nuclear stockpile or a Foreign Policy involving the maintenance of a nuclear arsenal are very unlikely to accept this new treaty. However, international consensus around norms and treaties like R2P, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) and the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) serves to highlight the impact that internationally agreed treaties and norms can have on states individually, whether or not they have subscribed to the norm in question. From this perspective, global pressure (largely coming from the states without a nuclear arsenal) can be relatively effective. Although immense friction exists in the implementation of the TPNW due to the disagreement by NATO members, the TPNW will come to force in January 2021 and make nuclear weapons illegal under international law. This article is going to explore the different factors for consideration due to the TPNW coming into force with regard to the global disarmament discourse at the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon) 2021. Leveraging the norm against nuclear weapons at the NPT RevCon Although nuclear states have not signed and/or ratified the TPNW, the 50 ratifications that it has received hold great importance. That is the primary reason that most non-signatories have had to present and defend their stance against this treaty. The central principle of international law – ‘pacta sunt servanda – says ‘pacts or treaties must be respected and as provided for under the Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties (VCLT). As such, an international treaty imparts some level of accountability in the international community. Previous treaties on prohibiting weapons have been successful in curbing proliferation of those weapons and have forwarded a norm in the international community against Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs). The implementation of the TPNW would directly translate into a legal leverage for the Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) in the international community, especially at the NPT RevCon 2021. Apart from the legal leverage, as a treaty, the TPNW will also provide normative advantage to the NNWS. Harald Müller & Carmen Wunderlich have extensively discussed the challenge that the TPNW will pose to the four central norms of the existing nuclear order: constraints on use, political restraint, non-proliferation, and disarmament. This combination of a legal and normative challenge to the Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) is likely to lead to a huge boost to the nuclear disarmament discourse despite the NWS not having signed the TPNW. There is immense optimism in the disarmament community regarding the TPNW’s enforcement and its positive impact on the elimination of nuclear weapons, especially in light of the positive impact of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) and the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT). The MBT, 1999 and the CCM, 2010 demonstrated the normative power of treaties in the international community. This was evident from the behaviour of the states that were not party to these treaties. For example, the CCM and MBT discouraged and hampered production and investment by companies in the respective weapons, even in the states not party to the treaties. This is illustrated by the disinvestment of companies like Textron and Orbital ATK from cluster munitions in the United States (US) after the CCM entered into force, despite the US not being party to the treaty. Similarly, Egypt’s policy against landmine production after the MBT despite not having acceded to the treaty illustrates the normative value of such international treaties. The treaties also impacted the trade of these weapons, significantly reduced their use, and attracted policies and investment away from such weapons. The TPNW is expected to attract similar normative effects against nuclear weapons. For example, ABP – one of the largest pension funds in the world announced divestment from nuclear production entities in 2018 due to the TPNW’s adoption. We are bound to see more financial institutions move away from nuclear weapons in the coming years. Such normative and legal leverage has to be built upon by the NNWS in the upcoming NPT RevCon 2021. The TPNW will come into force months before the NPT RevCon. This gives the state parties of the TPNW an opportunity to convene before the NPT RevCon, and within the first year of the TPNW’s coming into force as mandated by the treaty. At the first meeting of TPNW states parties, the NNWS can possibly take decisive action and decisions, clarify TPNW’s functioning within the NPT, address verification issues and address possible roadblocks and objections that the NWS are bound to bring up at the RevCon. The illegality of nuclear weapons under international law should be leveraged by NNWS to lobby NWS to not only seriously tackle nuclear disarmament at first, but to also to invoke the more important commitment to ‘General and Complete Disarmament’ as stated under Article VI of the NPT. NATO, TPNW and the NPT NATO members have objected to the TPNW on several grounds. These include accusing the TPNW on undermining the NPT and noting that NATO member states cannot sign onto a treaty that is in conflict against NATO’s mission and obligations, as well as highlighting the inadequate verification mechanisms under the TPNW NATO states have earlier adopted independent positions on Nuclear Weapons and relevant treaties, like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). However, when it comes to the TPNW, NATO seeks to ‘create the conditions for a word without nuclear weapons’ under its commitment to seek ‘a safer world.’ Notably, NATO states claim over 90 per cent reduction in the nuclear weapons committed to NATO since the peak of the Cold War. However, they are committed to hold onto Nuclear Weapons for as long as nuclear weapons exist for the purpose of security through deterrence and extended deterrence. Therefore, NATO states have pledged towards the eradication of nuclear weapons, but only under a ‘favourable security environment’ without signing onto a treaty that deems nuclear weapons illegal under international law. ‘Rogue’ states like North Korea and Iran are deemed to be the main proponents for the absence of the ideal conditions for nuclear disarmament. This is a major barrier to the normative effect of international treaties as established earlier, since a nuclear security dilemma – by which states engage in acquisition of greater security capabilities due to mutually perceived threat from the rising security capabilities of the other state – caused by nuclear weapons is less likely to be solved by international norms. What it requires is intentional and direct action in the direction of nuclear disarmament by the states that possess them. Strategically, instead of opposing a treaty like the TPNW, the NATO member states should sign onto such a treaty and participate in the member state conferences. These states can work collectively towards the attainment of the most appropriate and effective verification regimes for the enforcement of the treaty. Under the NPT, nuclear disarmament was being continually postponed. This made the discourse rather weak and dangerous for the non-proliferation regime. With the entry of the TPNW into force, NNWS will have added momentum and an alternate legal instrument to affirm their non-proliferation commitment and further nuclear disarmament. NWSs will only add friction to this process by opposing it. The normative power of international treaties has been instated by the same western NWSs that are now opposing it. Instead, participating in the process to find solutions to the aspects that they identify as issues would further the disarmament initiative. But this is hindered by the belief that the NPT is the most important document for non-proliferation and disarmament, and that the TPNW seeks to undermine it. It is worth noting that there are direct references to the NPT in the TPNW. The drafters of the TPNW took particularly great care to prevent any clash with the NPT. This is evident from the repetition of the mutually reinforcing nature of the two treaties in the TPNW text. The preamble of the TPNW also reaffirms the importance of the NPT as the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation for international peace and security. Apart from these direct references to the NPT, the TPNW also states that, ‘The implementation of this Treaty shall not prejudice obligations undertaken by States Parties with regard to existing international agreements, to which they are party, where those obligations are consistent with the Treaty.’ This is characterised by the NWS as undermining the NPT by virtue of inconsistency between the obligations under the two treaties. However, that is not the case as the two treaties are consistent in their legal obligation of not hosting or developing nuclear weapons. Additionally, the NPT also calls on NWSs to pursue nuclear disarmament under Article VI. The TPNW only seeks to serve as an instrument to provide a major push to the nuclear disarmament discourse in the NPT negotiations. The TPNW also requires party states to maintain their existing safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in compliance with the NPT. A report from Wilton Park – United Kingdom (UK) Foreign Office also iterates that ‘Despite the significant mistrust between TPNW supporters and opponents, the Treaty is unlikely to have an overwhelmingly negative impact on the remainder of the 2020 NPT RevCon cycle.’ Conclusion The resistance from NATO member states to an international treaty that essentially aligns with the goals and motive of NWSs and NATO, only serves to elongate the nuclear disarmament discourse and progress. There is a need to draw attention to the resistance towards an international treaty that is a result of a historic UN General Assembly resolution, from states that have hailed international institutions, norms, structures and treaties to formulate the International Order in the first place. The disagreements between NWS and the NNWS needs to be addressed using several international structures and organizations already in place. The use of verification instruments that efficiently work when several NATO member states advocate for keeping an eye on North Korea, or Iran, can be expanded to serve verification purposes on a global scale. A Middle East Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ), which is a primary concern on the disarmament and NPT Agenda, can be expanded to include more NWFZs for trust building, alongside verification measures to build up to an international security environment conducive for nuclear disarmament. However, these measures and future possibilities for substantial progress towards a nuclear weapons free world will only continue to be delayed under active resistance from NWSs and the NATO member states. The only way to get rid of nuclear weapons is to start getting rid of them. Active participation from these key states in the discourse to solidify verification structures would boost the pace of the rather stagnant discussions at the NPT after the impetus provided by the TPNW as an international treaty. Active resistance would build disagreements and divide instead of making material progress to achieve a common global goal. The NPT RevCon 2021 will be strategically important since it will follow the coming into force of the TPNW in a world where nuclear weapons are illegal and defy the norm. NNWSs must capitalize on the legal and normative advantage that this provides them and the NWSs must recognize the compatibility and potential of the TPNW along with the NPT to attain substantial, mutually beneficial progress towards General and Complete Disarmament, starting with Nuclear Disarmament. Campaigners Celebrate Nuclear Ban Treaty with Projections on iconic Edinburgh Buildings Trident Ploughshares Press Release: 22nd January 2021 To mark the entry into force today of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons campaigners have projected images and slogans onto key Edinburgh buildings, as part of the worldwide celebration. The images were projected onto the Scottish Parliament, the government building at Victoria Quay, the Tron on the Royal Mile, and, as a special challenge to the UK government which has refused to acknowledge the Treaty, on the new Scotland Office building in New Street. As well as “The World is No Place for Nuclear Weapons”, the images noted that the Treaty has outlawed nuclear weapons, and that the Scottish government supports it. The TPNW prohibits the developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, otherwise acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, assisting other states with these prohibited activities, stationing, deployment or installation of nuclear weapons belonging to other states on a state party's territory. The nine nuclear weapons states (including the UK) have not signed or ratified the TPNW but nevertheless it will affect their capabilities and, more importantly, as with other inhumane weapon prohibition treaties and conventions, it is already changing the global perception of what is acceptable. Portobello resident and Trident Ploughshares member Margaret Bremner said: “The Tron in Edinburgh has long been the place to welcome in the New Year. Today's welcome, written large, is for the UN TPNW; a cause for celebration around the world. A clear message of support also shone on the Parliament, the Scottish Office and the new UK government building, QE House: The World is No Place For Nuclear Weapons. Campaigners recognise that the Scottish government supports this Treaty, but pressure will need to continue to convince the UK to accede to its demands.” Images available here. Please credit to Double Take Projections Contact: Margaret Bremner on 07733366476 www.nuclearban.scot; www.icanw.org Here it is – the wonderfully daft ICAN Can-Can, celebrating the nuclear ban treaty. Big thanks to all who contributed! https://youtu.be/WyXrBYJuP1s And here are some other videos singers have shared so far today celebrating the ban - enjoy and share the message! Eileen Penman sings The Freedom Come All Ye: https://youtu.be/1stfCEjCQ0A Kim Edgar sings The Freedom Come All Ye: https://youtu.be/H1pu-6S5JSQ (more Freedom Come All Yes will be coming throughout the day - I'll send you the rest of the links later, but they're all going up here if you want to see them sooner: www.singlouderthanguns.com/nuclear-ban-treaty-songs/) and here is Peggy Seeger's special Carry Greenham Home: https://youtu.be/xkuVT6iIr6I The World is No Place for Nuclear Weapons – Scotland Resists https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2021/01/22/the-world-is-no-place-for-nuclear-weapons-scotland-resists/ 22 January 2021 To mark the entry into force today of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons campaigners have projected images and slogans onto key Edinburgh buildings, as part of the worldwide celebration. The images were projected onto the Scottish Parliament, the government building at Victoria Quay, the Tron on the Royal Mile, and, as a special challenge to the UK government which has refused to acknowledge the Treaty, onto the new Scotland Office building in New Street. As well as “The World is No Place for Nuclear Weapons”, the images noted that the Treaty has outlawed nuclear weapons, and that the Scottish government supports it. The TPNW prohibits the developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, otherwise acquiring, possessing, stockpiling, transferring, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, assisting other states with these prohibited activities, stationing, deployment or installation of nuclear weapons belonging to other states on a state party’s territory. The nine nuclear weapons states (including the UK) have not signed or ratified the TPNW but nevertheless it will affect their capabilities and, more importantly, as with other inhumane weapon prohibition treaties and conventions, it is already changing the global perception of what is acceptable. As Trident Ploughshares member Margaret Bremner said: “The Tron in Edinburgh has long been the place to welcome in the New Year. Today’s welcome, written large, is for the UN TPNW; a cause for celebration around the world. A clear message of support also shone on the Parliament, the Scottish Office and the new UK government building, QE House: The World is No Place For Nuclear Weapons. Campaigners recognise that the Scottish government supports this Treaty, but pressure will need to continue to convince the UK to accede to its demands.” More details on the campaign here. It’s time to end the nuclear era! http://www.abolition2000.org/en/news/2021/01/15/its-time-to-end-the-nuclear-era/ January 15, 2021 | Blogroll, Nuclear Ban Treaty, United Nations Today, January 15, 2021, in advance of next week’s two milestones of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on January 22 and the 75th anniversay of UN General Assembly Resolution 1(1) two days later, the Coordinating Committee of the Aboltion 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons issued a statement to welcome the new treaty into the body of international law regarding the illegality of such weapons and to remind all states of their 75-year obligation to disarm. The statement affirms that: “Despite the protests of nuclear weapons states, the TPNW is an important measure to support the abolition of nuclear weapons globally. Its preamble highlights the risks posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from their use. The states who have ratified the treaty and those who join later are affirming this understanding, demonstrating their commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world, and accepting additional commitments to advancing this through national nuclear prohibition measures and international promotion.” The statement highlights the work of civil society ever since 1945 when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were obliterated in a nuclear hecatomb which was entirely avoidable and undertaken for purely political purposes to establish the USA as a single global power after the end of World War II. The subsequent nuclear arms race has led to the possession of an estimated over 13,000 nuclear weapons by nine states which leaves the planet on the brink of disaster through war or accident ever since. Furthermore, the over 400 nuclear power stations stroon across the face of the planet, without which nuclear weapons couldn’t be made, are disasters on the scale of Chernobyl and Fukushima waiting to happen as a result of war, natural disaster and terrorism. The TPNW makes unequivocal the illegality of nuclear weapons and any activity associated with them and the statement calls on states parties to implement legislation as soon as possible, especially concerning the areas of transit of nuclear weapons and the financing of their production, stating that, “Prohibiting transit would place additional restrictions on the current deployment of nuclear weapons. And if all of these countries and all the companies and institutions that operate within them were to end investments in the nuclear weapons industry, for example, it would make an even more significant impact on the nuclear arms race.” The TPNW’s journey from idea to legally binding treaty has been opposed every step of the way by nuclear armed states and their military allies who have boycotted negotiations, put pressure on countries that advocated for a ban, and now they deny any obligation under it, yet, “they cannot escape their obligations to achieve nuclear disarmament. They agreed to this in the very first resolution of the United Nations, UNGA Resolution 1 (1) adopted on January 24 1946 by consensus.” “Entry into force of the TPNW and the 75th anniversary of UNGA Resolution 1 (1) two days later provides an opportune time to remind all states of the illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons and of their nuclear disarmament obligations, and to call on them to implement these immediately. “It’s time to wrap up the nuclear weapons era.” To read the full statement click here. January 15, 2021 Time to wrap up the nuclear weapons era! Statement of the Abolition 2000 Coordinating Committee on the occasions of the Entry into Force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the 75th anniversary of UN Resolution 1 (1). On January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will enter into force. It will specifically prohibit States Parties from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, acquiring, possessing, deploying, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, and from assisting or encouraging such acts. And it will reinforce existing international law obligating all states not to test, use or threaten to use nuclear arms. Despite the protests of nuclear weapons states, the TPNW is an important measure to support the abolition of nuclear weapons globally. Its preamble highlights the risks posed by the existence of nuclear weapons and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from their use. The states who have ratified the treaty and those who join later are affirming this understanding, demonstrating their commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free world, and accepting additional commitments to advancing this through national nuclear prohibition measures and international promotion. We encourage all ratifying states to develop and pass comprehensive implementing legislation that includes prohibitions on the transit and financing of nuclear weapons. Prohibiting transit would place additional restrictions on the current deployment of nuclear weapons. And if all of these countries and all the companies and institutions that operate within them were to end investments in the nuclear weapons industry, for example, it would make an even more significant impact on the nuclear arms race. And we encourage the ratifying states to establish ministerial positions and public advisory committees and disarmament education funds to facilitate public education and effective policy to further advance the objective of a nuclear-weapon-free world. The TPNW has been achieved as a result of seventy-five years of nuclear disarmament activism by civil society—supported by mayors, parliamentarians, and like-minded governments—ever since the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons was demonstrated by the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Such action has been successful in the past in the achievement of treaties to prohibit nuclear testing, reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles, prevent the widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons and ban them in over 110 countries through nuclear-weapon-free zones. It has also helped develop a taboo against the use of nuclear weapons and prevent their use in armed conflict since 1945. However, this taboo is flimsy, and the possibility that nuclear weapons will be used by accident, conflict escalation, miscalculation or malevolent intent remains so long as the weapons exist and are part of security policies. Nuclear armed states may refuse to join the TPNW, but they cannot escape their obligations to achieve nuclear disarmament. They agreed to this in the very first resolution of the United Nations, UNGA Resolution 1 (1) adopted on January 24 1946 by consensus, which was adopted by consensus. Furthermore, Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty requires States Parties to achieve nuclear disarmament. In addition, all States are bound by treaty and custom-based international law prohibiting the threat or use of nuclear weapons as affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 1996 and the UN Human Rights Committee in 2018. Entry into force of the TPNW and the 75th anniversary of UNGA Resolution 1 (1) two days later provides an opportune time to remind all states of the illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons and of their nuclear disarmament obligations, and to call on them to implement these immediately. It’s time to wrap up the nuclear weapons era. Light at the end of the nuclear tunnel https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/article/f/light-at-the-end-of-the-nuclear-tunnel The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), comes into force today. For the first time ever the production and possession of such weapons has been ruled illegal. Morning Star, 22 January 2021 KATE HUDSON reports DECADES OF RESISTANCE: Anti-nuclear weapons campaigners unfurl a banner on the arm of the Finniston Crane in Glasgow in June 2012 NEW treaties are not often greeted with the recognition and enthusiasm that they merit. They can seem dry and legalistic, overladen with clauses and dusty formulations. But the reality is that treaties are often the bringing into law of profoundly humanitarian principles, of significant advances in human rights, of steps towards peace and to protect all communities. And they are often the result of years of campaigning, of lobbying, marching, and direct action. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which comes into force today, is just such a treaty. The result of over 60 years of anti-nuclear campaigning it is a remarkable and path-breaking achievement. The Treaty bans the use, production, possession and deployment of nuclear weapons, along with specific activities that could enable or assist anyone to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. For the first time, nuclear weapons are declared illegal under international law. In the past, the World Court ruled that their use would be unlawful under virtually all circumstances, but this is the first time that their production and possession — indeed their very existence — has been ruled illegal. There can be no doubt that treaty has the potential to achieve a world without nuclear weapons but there is also much more to the treaty, in very human terms. For the past decade, the work that was undertaken to achieve this treaty was based on profound concern, by states, campaigners and international bodies such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent, about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from any further use of nuclear weapons. As discussions continued across the globe, it was acknowledged that complete elimination of such weapons was the only way to guarantee that they would never be used again under any circumstances. The treaty that resulted from this process recognised the catastrophic consequences of nuclear weapons, that they “transcend national borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future generations, and have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of ionising radiation.” The treaty also acknowledges the ethical imperatives for nuclear disarmament describing a nuclear weapon-free world as a global public good of the highest order, serving both national and collective security interests. But one of the most moving sections of the treaty is that which recognises the unacceptable suffering and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha), as well as of those affected by the testing of nuclear weapons. It explicitly recognises the disproportionate impact of nuclear-weapon activities on indigenous peoples, because of the choices made by nuclear powers for their testing sites. Article 6 of the treaty is entitled Victim Assistance and Environmental Remediation. It requires each state party to the treaty to provide individuals who are affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons, “with age and gender-sensitive assistance, without discrimination, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion.” And it also covers land contaminated as a result of activities related to the testing or use of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices — states “shall take necessary and appropriate measures towards the environmental remediation of areas so contaminated.” These two commitments are long overdue. The appalling death toll from nuclear weapons testing has never been adequately measured or addressed. Indeed, testing has so shocked generations of activists that it has been a powerful motivator in building our movement. Looking back to the early days of anti-nuclear campaigning in Britain, it was primarily public outrage about nuclear testing that led to the founding of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). According to the UN’s Comprehensive Test-Ban-Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), the United States conducted 1,032 nuclear tests between 1945 and 1992: at the Nevada Test Site, at sites in the Pacific Ocean, in Amchitka Island of the Alaska Peninsula, Colorado, Mississippi, and New Mexico. Between 1951 and ’58, around 100 nuclear weapons tests were conducted in the atmosphere at the Nevada Test Site. The fallout from the tests was transported thousands of miles away from the site by winds. As a result, people living in the US during these years were exposed to varying levels of radiation. Early testing by the Soviet Union took place on the steppes of Kazakhstan in what was then Soviet central Asia. Tests were later conducted in the Russian archipelago of Novaya Zemlya, as well as in the Urals and at the Missile Test Range area in Kazakhstan. The CTBTO reports that the health impact on the local population includes genetic defects and illnesses, ranging from cancers to impotency to birth defects and other deformities. Between 1952 and ’57, Britain conducted a total of 12 atmospheric nuclear tests on Australian territories at the Montebello Islands, and at Maralinga and Emu Field in South Australia. The impact of British testing in Australia remains a matter of contention until today. Although the Montebello Islands were uninhabited, the atmospheric nuclear tests spread radioactivity across large parts of the Australian mainland. Fallout from the testing at the Australian First People’s territories in Emu Field and Maralinga contaminated large parts of South Australia. According to the UN, of the over 2,000 nuclear explosions detonated worldwide between 1945 and 1996, 25 per cent or over 500 bombs were exploded in the atmosphere: over 200 by the US, over 200 by the Soviet Union, about 20 by Britain, about 50 by France and over 20 by China. For many decades, nuclear weapons tests have caused unacceptable harm across the globe. Now, with the TPNW we have a huge opportunity, not only to eradicate nuclear weapons and secure our survival, but to right the historic wrongs that so many people have suffered at the hands of the nuclear weapons states. We must work to ensure that Britain signs up to this treaty and makes full recompense to the Australian First Peoples — and to all those who have been affected by its disastrous obsession with nuclear weapons.
Thursday, 21 January 2021
Letter sent to The Guardian: Your important article(“WHO chief warns of ‘catastrophic moral failure ‘ over jabs distribution,” 19 January ) overlooks the fact that two days earlier former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn made campaigning for what he called “vaccine equality” one of four policy priorities for his new radical “Peace and Justice Project” (https://thecorbynproject.com/projects/) reported only on line.(“Jeremy Corbyn to start global social justice project ‘for the many’ 13 December 2020; https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2020/dec/13/jeremy-corbyn-to-start-global-social-justice-project-for-the-many; and” Former Labour leader calls for ‘free and accountable’ media at launch of his Peace and Justice Project,” 17 January; https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/jan/17/jeremy-corbyn-campaign-murdoch-television-channel-peace-justice Mr Corbyn stressed that “It is increasingly clear that very poor countries will have to wait years to access the [ vaccination] treatment and protect their people.. experts suggest nine out of ten people in poor countries will not receive a vaccine this year.. as distorted global economy is preventing recovery across the Global South.” In closing the 90 minute long on line webinar launching his new project, globally respected public intellectual Professor Noam Chomsky, now 92, told the forum from his home in the US that he regarded Jeremy Corbyn’s “values as an inspiration to all of us,” adding he has” impressive integrity and fortitude.” Considering the appalling media coverage Mr Corbyn received last year as he was hounded out of the parliamentary Labour party by its “new management”, it was good to hear some heartfelt truth from such a respected global campaigner for justice as Chomsky in support of Mr Corbyn.
Tuesday, 19 January 2021
Yesterday Green MP Caroline Lucas received a written ministerial answer from the Department for Health and Social Care in response to her question on a contract awarded to the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on test and trace, which the media had reported included paying individual consultants £7,000 per day. (“Test-and-trace consultants are being paid £7,000 a day,” The Times, 15 October 2020; www.thetimes.co.uk/article/test-and-trace-consultants-are-being-paid-7-000-a-day-ngl8vlqvw; “Coronavirus: Gove defends £7,000 day rate for test-and-trace consultants,” Sky News, 18 October 2020; https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-gove-defends-7-000-day-rate-for-test-and-trace-consultants-12107394) It took the department three months to produce the reply. The Parliamentary rule of thumb is an answer should normally be provided within five working days. On 11th November, nearly three weeks after asking her original question, Caroline Lucas asked the Health Secretary Matt Hancock, when he planned to answer the original question that had been tabled (submitted) on 16 October 2020 on BCG. Junior health minister, Edward Argar, replied on 30 November: “We take parliamentary scrutiny incredibly seriously and it is fundamentally important that hon. Members are provided with accurate and timely information to enable them to hold Government to account. We are working rapidly to provide all Members with accurate answers to their questions, as well as supporting the Government’s response to the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.” He closed by adding “The hon. Member’s (Lucas) question will be answered as soon as possible.(https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-11-11/114133) In between Dr Lucas asking this clarification questi0on and getting an answer, at Prime Minister's questions on Wednesday 25 November 2020 (Hansard at Column 818), Labour Leader Keir Starmer asked the following pertinent question: “Where do I start on this one? Last week, we learned that suppliers with political connections were 10 times more likely to be awarded Government contracts, and this week The Sunday Times reports that the Health Secretary appointed one of his closest friends to a key advisory role. This friend also is a major shareholder, as it happens, in a firm that specialises in lobbying the Government on behalf of its clients, and some of those clients have secured tens of millions of pounds of Government contracts during the pandemic. Was the Prime Minister aware of this apparent conflict of interest? Prime Minister Boris Johnson answered, saying, inter alia, “In so far as there are any conflicts of interest, they will be evident from the publication of all the details of all the contracts.” (https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-11-25/debates/FA145A50-F2C7-45C7-8CEF-51F0B5AF23D3/Engagements) A week later, Mr Argar appeared before the House of Commons Procedure Committee to explain why his department had been so late in answering correspondence from MPs and PQs (https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/126/procedure-committee/news/136919/committee-questions-minister-on-department-of-health-performance-in-answering-parliamentary-questions/). He said to the committee there were some 1500 written PQs that were still late being answered by Health ministers. The average delay peaked at 14.8 days in October, it rose to 20 days in November, and by early December had dropped again 13.3 days (https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/1405/html/) But Dr Lucas had to wait another 42 further days, on top of the delay to that date to receive her reply. Her specific question had been: “To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reasons Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was chosen as a contractor to conduct consultancy work on test and trace; on what date the contract was signed; whether it was signed under special pandemic powers that bypass normal tendering processes; what the value is of the BCG contract; what the process was for agreeing the day rates in that contract; whether he plans to publish the BCG contract in line with Government procurement rules that Departments must publish a contract award notice within 30 days of agreement; and if he will make a statement?”(https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2020-10-16/104712) Junior Heath minister, Helen Whately - not Mr Argar for some reason- was the minister chosen to substantively respond. She said: “Boston Consultancy Group are an approved supplier on the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) framework contract. They gained their place on the framework through fair and open competition via an Official Journal of the European Union procurement. Value for money and capability were part of the assessment criteria. The contract award date was 24 April 2020 and the contract start date was 27 April 2020. The pay rates of individual consultants engaged from each supplier is commercially sensitive information. Payment rates are as per the CCS rate card with discounts attained depending on value and length of role. All the Departmental COVID-19 contracts are published on the GOV.UK Contract Finder Service, which contains information on the award criteria for each individual contract.” (emphasis added) It does not seem such a very complicated answer that would demand three months of brain work of civil servants and a minister to compile. It is also inaccurate! I visited the Government’s Contract Finder site, to find out the details of this particular contract that they had deemed able to be made public. The answer turns out to be absolutely nothing. The contract is not included at all in the BCG contracts. Below is the full list of BCG contracts listed since April 2020, the month n which Ms Whately claims the BCG contract was awarded. It does not appear! So much for the inordinate three month delay - to reveal absolutely nothing. Astonishing and depressing. https://bidstats.uk/tenders/?q=boston+consulting+group&scope=supplier UK – Boston Consulting Group Contracts Filters: Refine Supplier report Found 32 notices in past year. December 2020 Department of Health & Social Care • Enablement Strategy award: Boston Consulting Group £357K Department of Health & Social Care DHSC Test & Trace • Programme Support to TTCE Area Phase 3 award: Boston Consulting Group £6.3M • 4PL and Lab Operational Support award: Boston Consulting Group £1.6M November 2020 Cabinet Office Cabinet Office • Retrospective award: Boston Consulting Group £693K Department of Health & Social Care • Boston Consulting Group - Mass Testing Strategic Support award: Boston Consulting Group £4.6M • Boston Consulting Group - Strategic Delivery award: Boston Consulting Group £2.8M • End to End Operational Process award: Boston Consulting Group £630K October 2020 Cabinet Office Cabinet Office • Consultancy Task Force award: Boston Consulting Group £1.6M Department for International Trade • Defend Phase 2 award: Boston Consulting Group £2.4M • Defend Phase 2 award: Boston Consulting Group £2.4M September 2020 Health Family • Strategic Support for the COVID-19 Test, Track and Trace Programme award: Boston Consulting Group £5M Health Family • Digital Support for NHS Test & Trace Service award: Boston Consulting Group £5M August 2020 DCLG • Test, Track and Trace - PMO Support award: Boston Consulting Group LPP £355K DEFRA Network Etendering Portal • Support - Defra PEL 006C award: Boston Consulting Group £458K • Support - Defra PEL 006C award: Boston Consulting Group £458K • Support - Defra PEL 006C award: Boston Consulting Group £458K • Support - Defra PEL 033C award: Boston Consulting Group £437K Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy • UK Vaccine Taskforce - Advisory Support on Manufacturing Strategy & Delivery award: Boston Consulting Group £731K Homes England the Name Adopted by the Homes & Communities Agency • Homes England - CCS MCF - Transformation Business Case and Set-Up - BCG award: Boston Consulting Group £6.1M Department for International Development • Accelerated COVID Economic Support (ACES) award: Boston Consulting Group £4.5M July 2020 MOD • MOD Professional Services Support - FOR award: Boston Consulting Group June 2020 Crown Commercial Service • Cabinet Office Consultancy Support for EU Exit award: Boston Consulting Group Department for International Trade • Project Defend - Phase 1 Supply Chain Resilience for Non-Food Critical Items award: Boston Consulting Group £663K May 2020 Cabinet Office Cabinet Office • Consultancy for COP26 Support award: Boston Consulting Group £984K March 2020 Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust UHCW University Hospitals • 200000000.00 award: 57 suppliers £200M • Consultancy and Advisory Services award: 45 suppliers £100M • Consultancy and Advisory Services award: 19 suppliers £25M Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust UHCW University Hospitals • Consultancy and Advisory Services award: 24 suppliers £25M Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government • Grenfell Site Programme - Strategic Consulting Services award: Boston Consulting Group £5M Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust UHCW University Hospitals • Consultancy and Advisory Services award: 19 suppliers £30M
Monday, 18 January 2021
A year ago tomorrow the National Health Service saved my life in a near six hour bowel cancer operation at St. Helier Hospital (https://www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/) in Sutton, around fifteen minutes’ drive from my home. I will be eternally grateful to the surgeons, doctors, nurses and other hospital support staff. While I lay in bed recuperating, I recall watching on my tv an odd story from far away China, a report from a city called Wuhan ( with 12 million residents) of which I had never heard. The report was of a mysterious virus that had swept through the city, and the emergency action taken by the city authorities, including the construction of a brand new giant hospital in a week. The day-to-day progress was beamed back to the UK, as first bulldozers cleared the site; then giant cranes were positioned on the concrete base, then the walls went up, and the inside was kitted out with medical equipment. I wondered what was it about this virus that demanded such urgent action? And I a vaguely recalled an earlier viral outbreak in China, called SARS, from 17 years earlier. After leaving hospital, I began to watch intently – and with increasing alarm - this developing story, as the virus escaped China and spread across the world. How did this fugitive virus escape into Wuhan? The official story promoted by the Chinese government and the World Health Organization- following a report it received from Beijing on 31 December 2019- was that there had been a transfer of the virus from wild captured bats to pangolins, two sad creatures on sale at the wet live food market in central Wuhan, in a transfer process known as zoonosis.( A zoonosis (plural zoonoses, or zoonotic diseases) is an infectious disease caused by a pathogen (an infectious agent, such as a bacterium, virus, parasite or prion) that has jumped from a non-human animal (usually a vertebrate) to a human.) But could there have been any other origin? In public, the British Government showed a complete disinterest in this possibility. For example, on 10th March a question (number HL1839) from Lord Alton of Liverpool asked ministers what assessment they had made of the number and location of microbiology laboratories in China that handle advanced viruses; and what assessment they have made of the role any such laboratories may have had in the initial spread of the Wuhan coronavirus?” It was was extraordinarily answered by Lord Bethell with a brush off retort: “We do not hold this information.” https://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answers-statements/written-question/Lords/2020-02-25/HL1839/ It was Lord Bethell’s second day as a minister. His previous role before becoming a Conservative peer and health minister was to run nightclubs in London. Labour's youngest MP, Nadia Whittome, was similarly given a brush-off by junior health minister, Jo Churchill , on 26 March in a written answer (29268) to a question I suggested to her that she might usefully submit, saying "We have no plans to authorise research into the security control of viruses under investigation at the Wuhan State Institute of Virology." Why was the UK Government so ignorant? In formation is readily available in the public domain. Then on 5 April 2020, the Mail on Sunday published fascinating investigative article on the possible origin of the virus coming from a leak out of the Institute of Virology Research in Wuhan. It seemed plausible. It reported: “that British Government Ministers had been briefed on intelligence which ‘did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory’.” The internationally respected science journal, Nature journal reported three years ealier that a major maximum-security biolab was being developed by the Chinese Government part of plan to build network of biosafety-level four (BSL-4 facilities) across China: the first was to be opened in Wuhan. It was planned to focus on the control of emerging diseases, store purified viruses and act as a World Health Organization ‘reference laboratory’ linked to similar labs around the world. (“Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world's most dangerous pathogens,” Nature, 22 February 2017: www.nature.com/news/inside-the-chinese-lab-poised-to-study-world-s-most-dangerous-pathogens-1.21487) Two years later, the US Centers for Disease Control issued a press briefing note in May 2019 (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/25/5/18-0220_article) on the ‘Biosafety Level 4 Laboratory User Training Program, China’ prepared by seven authors from the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Wuhan branch). The authors stressed: “According to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, the chance that exotic pathogens could be brought into the country has dramatically increased Our new BSL-4 facility will play an integral role in preventing and controlling highly pathogenic microbes.” And concluded ominously “Microbes contained in BSL-4 laboratories pose a significant risk for transmission and are frequently fatal; most have no reliable cure.” What went so catastrophically wrong? Last week the outgoing US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo, issued details of a report that seemed to confirm that the US had evidence of just such a leak that had been of so little interest to incurious British health ministers 8 months earlier. It said: “The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.” (Ensuring a Transparent, Thorough Investigation of COVID-19’s Origin; Press Statement, US Department of State, January 15, 2021) (https://www.state.gov/ensuring-a-transparent-thorough-investigation-of-covid-19s-origin/) Full circle? Backstory America points finger at Chinese lab: US claims researchers at Chinese institute in Wuhan fell ill WEEKS before the world knew of Covid • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with Covid symptoms in autumn 2019, weeks before alarm raised • He claimed scientists were experimenting with a bat Covid similar to one that causes coronavirus and worked on secret military projects • Allegations come as WHO investigators land in Wuhan looking at Covid origin By Glen Owen and Ian Birrell In Amsterdam For The Mail On Sunday https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9155237/US-claims-researchers-Chinese-institute-fell-ill-weeks-world-knew-Covid.html Mail on Sunday: 22:03, 16 January 2021 | Updated: 08:48, 17 January 2021 The Chinese government is under growing pressure to reveal the true origins of the coronavirus pandemic after US intelligence placed a Wuhan lab at the centre of the mystery. American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said workers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology fell ill with Covid-like symptoms in autumn 2019 – weeks before the alarm was raised about the contagion ravaging the city. He also claimed its scientists were experimenting with a bat coronavirus very similar to the one that causes Covid, and had worked on secret military projects. The Mail on Sunday first revealed concerns about the secretive lab on April 5 last year – some 287 days ago. Now the new allegations from the top of the US administration come as investigators from the World Health Organisation (WHO) land in Wuhan to look into the pandemic’s origins. However, the team will be under the close scrutiny of Beijing officials and have no plans to visit the institute. They have also been accused of downplaying concerns that a leak was to blame. Last night Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, called for full transparency, saying: ‘The secrecy surrounding Covid has cost millions of lives and destroyed people’s futures. It has to stop. It’s time we pushed for greater access from the WHO and joined others to sanction those keeping secrets.’ Mr Pompeo, who will leave office next week when Joe Biden succeeds Donald Trump in the White House, said: ‘Beijing continues to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one.’ The Wuhan site was one of just five laboratories in the world carrying out controversial ‘gain of function’ research, which artificially speeds up the evolution of viruses and, in some cases, enhances their ability to infect humans. As The Mail on Sunday revealed last year, the scientists were manipulating corona–viruses sampled from bats in caves nearly 1,000 miles away – the same caves where Covid-19 is suspected to have originated. In some cases they used a method of cloning that leaves no trace of lab engineering. This newspaper has also now unearthed minutes from a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party branch at the institute from November 2019 which warned that the lab was dealing with ‘highly pathogenic micro-organisms’ and states that ‘once the test tube containing the virus is opened it is like opening a Pandora’s Box’. Matthew Pottinger, who stood down as Trump’s Deputy National Security Adviser this month, recently said the most ‘credible’ theory about the origin of this new coronavirus was that it escaped from a laboratory in China – and that the Wuhan institute was the most likely source. The British Government has been cautious about speculating on the causes of the pandemic before the conclusion of the WHO investigation, which could take years Yet critics have called the probe a ‘whitewash’ since its composition and access to data are dictated by the Chinese regime. Beijing has backed away from its original claim that the virus originated in Wuhan’s wet market, but no plausible alternative theory has yet emerged. Many prominent scientists still think there was natural transmission from an animal. The US government does not believe the leak was deliberate, but was a catastrophic accident caused by poor safety procedures surrounding the high-risk experiments. One of the leading Wuhan scientists, ‘Batwoman’ Shi Zhengli, admitted her first thought on hearing about the virus was to wonder if it was a leak from her lab. A British security source said: ‘If the US claims can be substantiated, it would finally give the lie to the theory that a bat travelled 1,000 miles to infect a pangolin in a Wuhan wet market which then somehow jumped the species barrier to people – and just a few miles from the only laboratory in China which manipulates bat viruses to make them contagious to humans.’ In its statement released late on Friday, the US State Department said that it was ‘sharing new information’ about the lab, outlining its belief that ‘several researchers inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both Covid-19 and common seasonal illnesses. ‘This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students.’ The statement added that the institute has ‘not been transparent’ about its work on bat coronaviruses, and that far from being a purely civilian lab, it had ‘collaborated on secret projects with China’s military [and] engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017’. The statement criticised China’s clampdown on ‘doctors, scientists, and journalists who tried to alert the world’, and said vital data was still being withheld. It concluded that the credibility of the WHO inquiry would suffer without unfettered access ‘to virus samples, lab records and personnel, eyewitnesses, and whistleblowers’. Many experts now believe that the virus was brought into the Wuhan market by customers, rather than originating there. Despite intensive efforts, researchers have failed to find a clear ‘intermediate host’– an animal that would have allowed the virus to jump from bats to humans. The WHO is still dismissive of suggestions the pandemic could have started with a lab leak. Peter Ben Embarek, head of the ten investigators who landed in Wuhan last week, insisted that Covid-19 ‘is clearly a natural virus’, and that the lab leak theory was ‘unlikely’ to be true. He conceded his team would investigate the possibility of a leak, but his pre-emptive statement will fuel fears that the WHO, long criticised for its complacency and complicity with the Chinese regime, is engaged in a whitewash. Lab we first spotlighted in April... and have been investigating ever Lab we first spotlighted in April... and have been investigating ever since Fear that the pandemic may have originated with a leak from a laboratory first erupted on April 5 last year after The Mail on Sunday revealed that a government source believed this explosive concept was ‘no longer being discounted’. This senior figure pointed out: ‘Perhaps it is no coincidence that there is that laboratory in Wuhan.’ Since then, the story has taken off around the world, despite being dismissed as a conspiracy theory by the scientific establishment and those with links to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Last April, we also exposed links between China and World Health Organisation boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and his body’s complicity in Beijing’s initial cover-up of the pandemic. The issue was picked up instantly by Donald Trump, who later severed funding from America, the WHO’s biggest financial supporter. The following week, we revealed that the US government was backing high-risk research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Again, this led to the termination of funding, sparking huge debate. In May, we ran exclusive reports on a pair of landmark scientific studies that cast doubt on China’s claims that the new disease had erupted in a wild animal market. Later that month, the nation’s top scientist confirmed their theory was misplaced. We have also obtained censored Chinese reports suggesting the disease started significantly earlier than claimed and disclosed how the head of biosecurity at the secretive Wuhan lab had confessed to serious safety concerns. In recent weeks, we have disclosed how leading scientists closed ranks to dismiss ‘conspiracy theories’ over the idea of a lab leak, and revealed growing concerns over the Wuhan links of British scientist Peter Daszak, a member of the critical WHO inquiry into the origins of this pandemic. We were also the first mainstream paper to set out the full theory of a Wuhan lab leak, the issue now being debated around the world. Lab girl who has vanished from the face of the earth A year-long hunt by The Mail on Sunday and Western intelligence officials for a Chinese lab researcher believed to be the world’s first Covid-19 patient has been thwarted by a suspected state cover-up. Huang Yanling, who worked at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, was named as Patient Zero in online reports that were widely shared inside China in the early weeks of the outbreak last February. The revelation created a direct link between the pandemic and the lab suspected to have accidentally unleashed it while conducting dangerous experiments on bat coronaviruses. 'PATIENT ZERO’: The only picture thought to show missing former Wuhan lab worker Huang Yanling (left) The reports did not say when she contracted the virus or if she survived. However, they support the US State Department’s belief she was the first of several researchers at the controversial institute who fell ill with Covid-19 in the autumn of 2019, before it was officially acknowledged. Chinese government and lab officials stepped in swiftly to deny the reports at the time and remove them from the internet, claiming Huang was safe and well elsewhere in China. A post purporting to be from Huang appeared on WeChat, China’s equivalent of WhatsApp, telling colleagues and teachers at the institute she was alive and insisting the reports were false. The message read: ‘To my teachers and fellow students, how long no speak. I am Huang Yanling, still alive. If you receive any email [regarding the Covid rumour], please say it’s not true.’ A separate post by her former boss, Professor Wei Hong Ping, claimed Huang left the institute in 2015 and had contacted him by phone to deny the reports. A day later, a Chinese news agency made a vague claim to have spoken to her new employer without providing details. Inexplicably, however, Huang has disappeared from social media and has not been heard from since being identified as Patient Zero, while her biography and research history have been scrubbed from the institute’s website. Almost one year on, the only trace of the student researcher is a grainy picture of her salvaged from the institute’s website and circulated on the internet. Wuhan team bitten by bats Scientists at the Wuhan lab admitted being bitten while collecting samples in a cave which is home to coronavirus-infected bats. One researcher said one animal’s fangs went through his rubber gloves ‘like a needle’. Researchers in thin overalls and rubber gloves handle bats while gathering samples in a clip filmed by a Chinese television crew Staff inside the top-secret facility were also shown handling bats without gloves and working on ‘live viruses’ without masks in apparent breach of strict World Health Organisation safety rules on PPE, according to footage captured by a Chinese TV crew and broadcast in 2017. The revelations will raise further questions for the WHO team which is investigating the origins of Covid-19 following months of wrangling with Beijing over access to the Wuhan site. In the days after the initial reports, bloggers and internet users in China suspicious of officials’ denials pleaded with Huang to make a public appearance to prove she was alive. ‘To stop this rumour spreading, Huang should just come forward and do a blood test,’ said one. Another posted: ‘No matter where you live, Huang, you will be found.’ China’s internet censors quickly stamped out discussion of Huang, and extensive enquiries within the country by The Mail on Sunday, including messages to her former colleagues, have failed to turn up any trace of her. Huang remains an enigma, the only picture of her showing a woman in her 20s with long hair, peeking out from behind a colleague. Her name is included among the writers of three scientific papers issued by the Wuhan institute between 2013 and 2015, including research into staphylococcus bacteria. Western governments and intelligence agencies are also understood to have tried and failed to locate Huang amid a ferocious crackdown on any challenge to China’s official narrative that the outbreak has no link to the Wuhan facility. In its statement yesterday, the US State Department complained that the Chinese Communist Party had prevented investigators and global health authorities from interviewing researchers at the Wuhan institute ‘including those who were ill in the fall [autumn] of 2019’ ‘Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus and the next one,’ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added. China’s reluctance to produce Huang to quash the alleged rumours has fuelled the belief that she is either dead or is being held by the state to cover up the institute’s culpability for the pandemic. It has also generated lurid speculation about her fate, with some claiming Huang must have been hastily cremated. ‘Everyone on the Chinese internet is searching for Huang. Most believe she is dead,’ said one blogger. In the same month that Huang was named as Patient Zero, a user of Chinese social-media platform Weibo, claiming to be a researcher in Wuhan, alleged the virus had leaked from the institute. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: The world needs to know exactly what happened in Wuhan Mail On Sunday Comment , 17 January 2021 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9155489/MAIL-SUNDAY-COMMENT-world-needs-know-exactly-happened-Wuhan.html The mystery of Wuhan – did the Covid-19 outbreak originate in a state laboratory there? – has now reached a new level. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has added his powerful voice to those asking for the truth. The US State Department, in a document of great sobriety and caution, did not suggest that the virus was intentionally engineered or released on purpose. Even so, it flatly accused China’s ruling Communist Party of systematically preventing a proper investigation into the origin of the pandemic. It complained that China’s authorities have a ‘deadly obsession with secrecy and control’ and have chosen instead to ‘devote enormous resources to deceit and disinformation’. The mystery of Wuhan – did the Covid-19 outbreak originate in a state laboratory there? – has now reached a new level. Pictured: Shi Zhengli works with other researchers in a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province Washington also suggested that the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) has been involved in military work, even though it poses as a civilian institution. The State Department said that the WIV had collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military and had done classified research, including animal experiments, on behalf of China’s defence sector. It said it had ‘a right and obligation to determine whether any of our research funding was diverted to secret Chinese military projects at the WIV’. This is extraordinarily tough language at such a high level. Mr Pompeo was careful not to make any specific allegations about what may have happened. The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has added his powerful voice to those asking for the truth But he revealed, in a major development, that the US has ‘reason to believe’ that several researchers inside the WIV fell ill in the autumn of 2019, weeks before the first officially identified case of Covid. They had symptoms consistent with both Covid and common seasonal illnesses. US experts also claim that Wuhan scientists were working with a bat coronavirus that is 96.2 per cent similar genetically to the virus that causes Covid. Could this autumn 2019 outbreak have been the first case of Covid? Could this have resulted from a laboratory accident or unintended cross-infection between animals in laboratories and human researchers? It is vitally important that we should know, and high time, too. The Mail on Sunday first reported on April 5 last year that British Government Ministers had been briefed on intelligence which ‘did not rule out that the virus first spread to humans after leaking from a Wuhan laboratory’. Those who cast doubt on this revelation at the time have some explaining to do. The evidence is now piling up that serious independent investigation is required. With a death toll of two million already, even the suggestion that this disaster may have had origins in human error must be pursued until we have clear answers. The World Health Organisation is looking into events in Wuhan. But will this probe be adequate? Questions have been raised about one of the inquiry members, Peter Daszak, who has been accused of important conflicts of interest. The WHO team also cannot be sure of full co-operation from China. As of last night, there was no certainty that the team would even be permitted to visit the WIV itself. Shockingly, neither China nor the WHO will say exactly where they will go. This is simply not good enough. The world needs to know exactly what happened in Wuhan. If it was a disastrous accident leading to a pandemic, then urgent steps must be taken as quickly as possible to prevent a repeat. And China has to understand that, as a great and growing power, it needs to accept much higher standards of transparency and frankness than it has shown so far. Ensuring a Transparent, Thorough Investigation of COVID-19’s Origin Press Statement https://www.state.gov/ensuring-a-transparent-thorough-investigation-of-covid-19s-origin/ MICHAEL R. POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE JANUARY 15, 2021 The United States has repeatedly called for a transparent and thorough investigation into the origin of COVID-19. Understanding the origin of this pandemic is essential for global public health, economic recovery, and international security. To assist the vital work of the World Health Organization (WHO) investigative team that arrived in China this week, the United States government is today sharing new information concerning the activities inside China’s government laboratories in 2019. In particular, we urge the WHO to press the government of China to address the following: 1. Illnesses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV): The United States government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses. This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses. 2. WIV Research on “RaTG13” and “gain of function”: Starting in at least 2016, WIV researchers studied RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar). Since the outbreak, the WIV has not been transparent nor consistent about its work with RaTG13 or other similar viruses, including possible “gain of function” experiments to enhance transmissibility or lethality. 3. Secret WIV Links to Military Research: Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic was avoidable. Any responsible country would have invited world health investigators to Wuhan within days of an outbreak. China instead refused offers of help – including from the United States – and punished brave Chinese doctors, scientists, and journalists who tried to alert the world to the dangers of the virus. Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one. The United States reiterates the importance of unfettered access to virus samples, lab records and personnel, eyewitnesses, and whistleblowers to ensure the credibility of the WHO’s final report. Until the CCP allows a full and thorough accounting of what happened in Wuhan, it is only a matter of time until China births another pandemic and inflicts it on the Chinese people, and the world. Fact Sheet: Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology Fact Sheet OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON JANUARY 15, 2021 HTTPS://WWW.STATE.GOV/FACT-SHEET-ACTIVITY-AT-THE-WUHAN-INSTITUTE-OF-VIROLOGY/ For more than a year, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has systematically prevented a transparent and thorough investigation of the COVID-19 pandemic’s origin, choosing instead to devote enormous resources to deceit and disinformation. Nearly two million people have died. Their families deserve to know the truth. Only through transparency can we learn what caused this pandemic and how to prevent the next one. The U.S. government does not know exactly where, when, or how the COVID-19 virus—known as SARS-CoV-2—was transmitted initially to humans. We have not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China. The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic. Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection. Scientists in China have researched animal-derived coronaviruses under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure. The CCP’s deadly obsession with secrecy and control comes at the expense of public health in China and around the world. The previously undisclosed information in this fact sheet, combined with open-source reporting, highlights three elements about COVID-19’s origin that deserve greater scrutiny: 1. Illnesses inside the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV): • The U.S. government has reason to believe that several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019, before the first identified case of the outbreak, with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses. This raises questions about the credibility of WIV senior researcher Shi Zhengli’s public claim that there was “zero infection” among the WIV’s staff and students of SARS-CoV-2 or SARS-related viruses. • Accidental infections in labs have caused several previous virus outbreaks in China and elsewhere, including a 2004 SARS outbreak in Beijing that infected nine people, killing one. • The CCP has prevented independent journalists, investigators, and global health authorities from interviewing researchers at the WIV, including those who were ill in the fall of 2019. Any credible inquiry into the origin of the virus must include interviews with these researchers and a full accounting of their previously unreported illness. 2. Research at the WIV: • Starting in at least 2016 – and with no indication of a stop prior to the COVID-19 outbreak – WIV researchers conducted experiments involving RaTG13, the bat coronavirus identified by the WIV in January 2020 as its closest sample to SARS-CoV-2 (96.2% similar). The WIV became a focal point for international coronavirus research after the 2003 SARS outbreak and has since studied animals including mice, bats, and pangolins. • The WIV has a published record of conducting “gain-of-function” research to engineer chimeric viruses. But the WIV has not been transparent or consistent about its record of studying viruses most similar to the COVID-19 virus, including “RaTG13,” which it sampled from a cave in Yunnan Province in 2013 after several miners died of SARS-like illness. • WHO investigators must have access to the records of the WIV’s work on bat and other coronaviruses before the COVID-19 outbreak. As part of a thorough inquiry, they must have a full accounting of why the WIV altered and then removed online records of its work with RaTG13 and other viruses. 3. Secret military activity at the WIV: • Secrecy and non-disclosure are standard practice for Beijing. For many years the United States has publicly raised concerns about China’s past biological weapons work, which Beijing has neither documented nor demonstrably eliminated, despite its clear obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention. • Despite the WIV presenting itself as a civilian institution, the United States has determined that the WIV has collaborated on publications and secret projects with China’s military. The WIV has engaged in classified research, including laboratory animal experiments, on behalf of the Chinese military since at least 2017. • The United States and other donors who funded or collaborated on civilian research at the WIV have a right and obligation to determine whether any of our research funding was diverted to secret Chinese military projects at the WIV. Today’s revelations just scratch the surface of what is still hidden about COVID-19’s origin in China. Any credible investigation into the origin of COVID-19 demands complete, transparent access to the research labs in Wuhan, including their facilities, samples, personnel, and records. As the world continues to battle this pandemic – and as WHO investigators begin their work, after more than a year of delays – the virus’s origin remains uncertain. The United States will continue to do everything it can to support a credible and thorough investigation, including by continuing to demand transparency on the part of Chinese authorities.