Tag: <span>Nuclear Weapons</span>

Nuclear Weapons Appeals

Dark Clouds and Little Light at the Nuclear-Weapon Non-Proliferation…

Featured Image Photo by  Egor MyznikUnsplash.

After late night negotiations; the every-five-year Review of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; (The NPT Review) failed to reach a consensus on a final statement this past Friday.  The terms of the Review require a consensus and not a majority-minority vote.  This is not the first time that a NPT Review has failed to reach a consensus on a final documen; but the failure is an indication of strong tensions among nuclear-weapon states – in particular over the Russian Federation armed conflict in Ukraine.

151 States participated in the Review held at the United Nations in New York; however the Review is not a U.N. conference, thus the consensus rules of procedure.  There were 160 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) accredited to participate in the Review.  I had chaired the NGO representatives at the first Review in 1975 held in Geneva, and also chaired the NGOs at the 1980 Review.  We were fewer then.  However getting consensus among NGOs is nearly as difficult as among States.  The impact of NGOs depends to a large part on preparation before the Review and follows up after.

The Treaty was negotiated in Geneva during a 10-year period with frequent consultations between the negotiators and the Foreign Ministries.  Many negotiators of non-nuclear-weapon States considered the treaty as uneven or unfair, giving a superior position to the five official nuclear-weapon States: China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.A. In “compensation” there is a crucial Article VI in which the nuclear-weapon States agree:

“to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.” 

NGOs have cited Article VI at each Review deploring the lack of progress toward nuclear disarmament or any other type of disarmament.

Dark clouds hung over this Review with the statements of the Russian authorities on 24 February and again on 27 April threatening that nuclear weapons might be used if its forces in Ukraine were menaced.  As a reply, the States party to the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons issued a 23 June consensus statement stating that:

“any use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is a violation of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations” and condemned “unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.”

It is certain that the shadows of nuclear weapons exist in the thinking of some governments. The State of Palestine participated in the Review but not the State of Israel.  The Republic of Korea was there but not North Korea.  There is a need to deal both with regional tensions such as those of the Middle East or the two Koreas as well as the nuclear-weapon stockpile of the U.S.A. and the Russian Federation.  There are some possibilities of “Track II” – informal diplomacy – concerning the Middle East and the Koreas.  However there is less concerning U.S. and Russian nuclear policy where NGOs have made proposals for as long as I can remember but with little visible impact.  Yet the challenge is there.  The coming together of such a large number of NGO representatives may help build a platform for NGO consensus and action.

Korean Peace

Korean Peace Memorial By John Murphy, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons. 

Korean Peace Treaty Awaits: NGO Efforts Needed.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Nuclear weapons Appeals

The NPT and Broader Human Security.

Featured Image: Castle Romeo nuclear test (yield 11 Mt) on Bikini Atoll. It was the first nuclear test conducted on a barge. The barge was located in the Castle Bravo crater. By United States Department of Energy, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power, in the unspeakable human suffering they cause, in the impossibility of controlling their effects in space and time, in the risks of escalation they create, and in the threat they pose to the environment, to future generations, and indeed to the survival of humanity.”

Jakob Kellenberger, then President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; (known as the NPT Review to its friends); began on 1 August 2022 at the United Nations in New York.  The Secretary- General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres opened the Review by stressing that :

“From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula. To Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  The clouds that parted following the end of the Cold War are gathering once more.”

Jakob Kellenberger

 Jakob Kellenberger (born 1944), President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) since 2000 at Dies academicus 2003 of the University of Fribourg. By Charly Rappo, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

Antonio Guterres

Antonio Guterres By Quirinale.it, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons.

As I chaired the representatives of the non-governmental organizations (NGO) at the 1975 and the 1980 Reviews, then held in Geneva, I have a feeling of repeating myself, especially as I participated in the 1985 and 1990 Reviews, after which the Reviews moved to New York.

As the Reviews were not U.N. meetings but were held in U.N. buildings, we were able to negotiate a greater role for NGOs at the review conferences than at the U.N. disarmament meetings.  Yes, there was a time when the U.N. had a Conference on Disarmament which held regular meetings. In addition, there were three U.N. General Assembly Special Sessions of Disarmament, 1978, 1982, 1988.  Disarmament has largely disappeared from the U.N. Agenda, and NGOs are forced to hand out arms control proposals to government U.N. missions, one step away from distributing pornography.

General Asembly

Image by Basil D Soufi, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

U.N. General Assembly: Can It Provide the Needed Global Leadership?

Military Spending Remains Constant.

The month-long NPT Review aims at having a final resolution highlighting the discussions.  This final resolution must be agreed upon by consensus making bold proposals difficult.  These proposals might be agreed upon if there were majority-minority voting but impossible by consensus.  Another major difficulty is that there are crucial States outside the NPT framework: India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea.

The world’s nuclear arms race arose as a classic case of the security dynamic – a situation in which one State tries to make itself more secure by building weapons and military forces which it says are defensive.  NGOs have constantly stressed that money spent on the nuclear weapons industry would be better spent on public health, climate stabilization and ecologically-sound development.  However, military spending remains constant.  NGOs have also stressed during the Reviews the need for developing confidence-building measures.  But confidence remains in short supply.

The debates and the results of the NPT Review merit being watched closely.

Ending the nuclear weapons era will require dedication, sustained effort and increased cooperation among NGOs. NGO action and cooperation led to the treaties on chemical weapons, land mines and cluster weapons.  Developing the framework for a broadly defined human security is the next major step.  The debates and the results of the NPT Review merit being watched closely.

 

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Reverence for Life Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Schweitzer: Reverence for Life

Featured Image: Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965). By Bundesarchiv, Bild 145 Bild-00014770 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en, via Wikimedia Commons.

The human race must be converted to a fresh mental attitude if it is not to suffer extinction…A new renaissance, much greater than that in which we emerged from the Middle Ages, is absolutely essential. Are we going to draw from the spirit enough strength to create new conditions and turn our faces once again to civilization, or are we going to draw our inspiration from our surroundings and go down with them to ruin?                                                                                                 

Albert Schweitzer.

As the world citizen Norman Cousins has noted:

“the main point about Schweitzer is that he helped make it possible for a twentieth-century man to unblock his moral vision. There is a tendency in a relativistic age for a man to pursue all sides of a question as an end in itself, finding relief and even refuge in the difficulty of defining good and evil. The result is a clogging of the moral sense, a certain feeling of self-consciousness, or even discomfort when questions with ethical content are raised. Schweitzer furnished the nourishing evidence that nothing is more natural in life than a moral response, which exists independently of precise definition, its use leading not to exhaustion but to new energy.”

The moral response for Schweitzer was “reverence for life”. Schweitzer had come to Lambaréné in April 1913, already well known for his theological reflections on the eschatological background of Jesus’ thought as well as his study of Bach. As an Alsatian, he was concerned with the lack of mutual understanding, the endless succession of hatred and fear, between France and Germany that led to war a year later.

Since Alsace was part of Germany at the time, Schweitzer was considered an enemy alien in the French colony of Gabon. When war broke out he was first restricted to the missionary station, where he had started his hospital and later was deported and interned in France. He returned to Gabon after the First World War, even more, convinced of the need to infuse thought with a strong ethical impulse. His reflections in The Decay and Restoration of Civilisation trace in a fundamental way the decay. He saw clearly that “the future of civilization depends on our overcoming the meaningless and hopelessness which characterizes the thoughts and convictions of men today, and reaching a state of fresh hope and fresh determination.”

This picture of en:Norman Cousins was taken from http://history.nasa.gov/EP-125/part2.htm And was probably created by NASA at the time of the panel it was taken from (1976). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

It could for you to be interesting to read: Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

Reverence for Life.

He was looking for a basic principle that would provide the basis of the needed renewal. That principle arose from a mystical experience. He recounts how he was going downriver to Ngomo, a missionary station with a small clinic. In those days there were steamboats on the Ogowé and seated on the deck, he had been trying to write all day. After a while, he stopped writing and only watched the equatorial forest as the boat moved slowly on. Then the words “reverence for life” came into his mind, and his reflections had found their core: life must be both affirmed and revered. Ethics, by its very nature, is linked to the affirmation of the good.

Schweitzer saw that he was:

“life which wants to live, surrounded by the life which wants to live. Being will-to-life, I feel the obligation to respect all will-to-life about me as equal to my own. The fundamental idea of good is thus that it consists in preserving life, in favoring it, in wanting to being it to its highest value, and evil consists in destroying life, doing it injury, hindering its development.”

Erfurt fur das Leben, – reverence for life – was the key concept for Schweitzer – all life longs for fullness and development as I do myself. However, the will to live is not static; there is an inner energy that pushes on to a higher state – a will to self-realization. Basically, this energy can be called spiritual. As Dr. Schweitzer wrote:

“One truth stands firm. All that happens in world history rests on something spiritual. If the spiritual is strong, it creates world history. If it is weak, it suffers world history.”

The use of Schweitzer’s principle of Reverence for Life can have a profound impact on how humans treat the environment. Reverence for Life rejects the notion that humans can use the environment for their own purposes without any consideration of its consequences for other living things. It accepts the view that there is a reciprocal relationship among living things. Each species is linked to many others.

Aldo Leopold in his early statement of a deep ecology ethic, A Sand County Almanac, makes the same point. “All ethics so far evolved rest on a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts…The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soil, water, plants, and animals, or collectively, the land.”

War and the potential of the use of nuclear weapons are the obvious opposite of reverence for life. Thus, in the mid-1950s, when the political focus was on the testing in the atmosphere of nuclear weapons, Schweitzer came out strongly for the abolition of nuclear tests. Some had warned him that such a position could decrease his support among those who admired his medical work in Africa; but who wanted to support continued nuclear tests.

However, for Schweitzer, an ethic that is not presented publicly is no ethic at all. His statements on the nuclear weapons issue are collected in his Peace or atomic war? (1958). The statements had an impact on many, touched by the ethical appeal when they had not been moved to action by political reasoning. These protests led to the 1963 Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which bans tests in the atmosphere – an important first step.

Aldo Leopold (left) and Olaus Muire sitting together outdoors, annual meeting of The Wilderness Society Council, Old Rag, Virginia, 1946. By Howard Zahniser, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Schweitzer was confident that an ethical impulse was in all people and would manifest itself if given the proper opportunity.

“Just as the rivers are much less numerous than underground streams, so the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what men and women carry in their hearts, unreleased or scarcely released. Mankind is waiting and longing for those who can accomplish the task of untying what is knotted and bringing the underground waters to the surface.”

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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Albert Schweitzer Rapprochement of Cultures.

Albert Schweitzer: Respect for Life Against Nuclear Death.

Featured Image: Respect for life’ 1974 – (Albert Schweitzer), Deventer/The Netherlands Made by Pieter de Monchy (Hengelo 1916). By FaceMePLS from The Hague, The Netherlands, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Civilization is made up of four ideals: the ideal of the individual; the ideal of social and political organization;
the ideal of spiritual and religious organization; the ideal of humanity as a whole.
On the basis of these four ideals, thought tries conclusions with progress.

Albert Schweitzer  The Philosophy of Civilization.

Albert Schweitzer, whose birth anniversary we note on 14 January, was concerned with the ways that these four ideals of civilization are developed into a harmonious whole.  Late in his life, when I knew him in the early 1960s, he was most concerned with the ideal of humanity as a whole.

He had come out strongly against nuclear weapons, weapons which were the opposite of respect for life which was the foundation of his ethical values.

Albert Schweitzer

 Albert Schweitzer (14 January 1875 – 4 September 1965) Bohn, 11 November 1955. By Bundesarchiv, Bild 145 Bild-00014770 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.

(1)  “Man can hardly recognize the devils of his creation.   Let me give you a definition of ethics.  It is good to maintain and further life.  It is bad to damage and destroy life.  By having reverence for life, we enter into a spiritual relation with the world.  By practicing respect for life, we become of the human family and our  good, deep and alive.”

For Albert Schweitzer, our sense of unity of the human family and our obligation to future generations was threatened as never before in the two World wars that he had seen. I had been active since the mid-1950s in efforts to ban testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere – a focus of anti-nuclear efforts at the time.  I had also worked with the world citizen Norman Cousins who had visited Lambaréné and had written a lively book on his exchanges  with  Schweitzer.(2)  Thus I was well received by Schweitzer at his hospital in Lambarene; and we had useful discussions. I was working for the Ministry of Education  at the time and was at the Protestant Secondary School which was a mile down the Ogowe River from  the hospital.

It was Norman Cousins, active in disarmament efforts  in the USA, who urged Schweitzer to speak out against nuclear weapons.  Schweitzer had been awared the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian efforts in Africa.  Thus he came into ever-greater contact with people working for peace.

However, he was reluctant to make statements on issues on which he was not expert. As he said to Cousins:

” All my life, I have carefully stayed away from making pronouncements on public matters. Groups would come to me for statements or I would be asked to sign joint letters or the press would ask me for my views on certain political questions.  And always I would feel forced to say no.”  

However, he went on: 

“The world needs a system of enforceable law to prevent aggression and deal with the threats to the peace, but theimportant thing to do is to make a start somewhere…I think maybe the place to take hold is with the matter of nuclear testing…If a ban on nuclear testing can be put into effect then perhaps the stage can be set  for other and broader measures related to peace.”

Norman Cousins.

This picture of en:Norman Cousins was taken from http://history.nasa.gov/EP-125/part2.htm And was probably created by NASA at the time of the panel it was taken from (1976). By See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Peace or Atomic War.

Schweitzer’s 1958 appeal “Peace or Atomic War” was an important contribution to the growing protests against nuclear testing and their fallout of radiation.  On 16 October 1963 The Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Tests in the Atmosphere, in Outer Space and Under Water (more commonly called the Partial Test Ban) came into force.

Today, we still need those other and broader measures related to peace and for a constant affirmation of respect for life.

It could for you to be interesting to read: Norman Cousins: A Pioneer of Track II Diplomacy.

Notes.

1) See Albert Schweitzer. Peace or Atomic War (New York: Henry Holt, 1958)
2) See Norman Cousins; Dr Schweitzer of Lambarene (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1960)
3) Also from Rene Wallow in Ovi magazine:
Albert Schweitzer: To say yes to life HERE
Albert Schweitzer: A Universal Ethic HERE
Albert Schweitzer: To turn our faces once again to civilization. HERE

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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nuclear weapon Appeals

Steps Toward Security in the Middle East.

Featured Image: Photo by Ilja Nedilko on Unsplash.

“The struggle against the nuclear weapon cult and threats it poses to international peace, security and development, like all struggles against belief systems which have outlived their times, is going to be long and arduous”   

K. Subrahmanyal. Nuclear Proliferation and Internationsal Securtiy.

 
    The U.N. Conference on the Establishlent of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction took place at the U.N. in New York, 29 November to 3 December 2021.
The Conference is open-ended – that is open to those States that wish to attend – with a mandate provided by General Assembly Resolution A/73/546 to continue meeting annually:
 

“until the confernce concludes the elaboration of a legally binding treaty establishing a Middle East Zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

The first session was held 18-22 November 2019.

K. Subrahmanyam
 K. Subrahmanyam (2010). By MarcEduard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
The process will not be easy in an area where armed conflicts exist and are undermining stablity. There are very real concerns concerning nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Regional conflicts could unleash a nuclear war through escalation of a conventional war, miscalculation or delibeate pre-emptive attack. This is the second time that the conference is held.  The 22 countries of the Arab League and Iran participated as did the U.K. and Russia.  Israel and the U.S.A. did not.  While the difficulties are real, the Conference provides opportunities for governments of the region to share perspectives, consider proposals and look at the institutional requirements to establish such a zone.
 
    While non-governmental organization representatives cannot participate as such in the Conference, a nuclear-weapon free zone is of vital interest to those organizations working on arms control, disarmament, and regional conflict resolution.
 
The Arab League
Emblem of the League of Arab States (2008). By Jeff Dahl, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
   
The idea of a Middle East nuclear-free zone was first put forth by a non-governmental organization, the Israeli Committee of the Denuclearization of the Middle East in April 1962.  Non-governmental organizations, often working closely with the United Nations disarmament secretariat, have played a role in the creation of regional nuclear-weapon free zones starting with the Treaty of the Tlatelolco for Latin America, after the dangers highlighted by the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 
As the “father” of the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco the Mexican Ambassador Alfonso Garcia Robles explained the concept of nuclear-weapon free zones as a step toward global disarmament:
 

“We should attempt to achieve a gradual broadening of the zones of the world from which  nuclear weapons are prohibited to a point where the territories of Powers which possess these terrible tools of mass destruction will become something like contaminated islets subjected to quarantine.”

Alfonso Garcia Robles
Alfonso Garcia Robles (1981). By Marcel Antonisse, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
    Non-governmental organizations have proposed that the following States be included in the Middle East process: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, the Palistinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen.  In looking at the list of potential members, we see that a nuclear-weapon free zone is not the only issue on the political agenda.  We also see that the possibilities of action for non-governmental organizations to work on security issues is not the same in each country.  There is deep mistrust and rivalries among many of these States.
 
    Thus, it is probably necessary for non-governmental organizations outside of the area to organize what are called Track II initiatives – a non-official way to discuss regional security issues and to provide policy advice to governments.  A first step is to identify opportunities,  areas of mutual interest, and then to make recommendations where progress can be made and where governmental diplomatic efforts could be made.  Civil society organizations can also reach out to youth in the Middle East who are interested in creating positive changes with in the region.
 
    A first opportunity to present proposals to government representatives will be the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT Review) to be held at the U.N. in New York during this January 2022. Nuclear-weapon free zones as well as the needed confidence-building measures have provided an important focus of earlier NPT Reviews. 
 
The Association of World Citizens has stressed the importance of Nuclear-weapon Free Zones at earlier NPT Reviews and will do so again for the January 2022 Review.
 
 
  Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Nuclear Weapons Appeals

UN-led International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear…

Featued Image: A U.S. Air Force McDonnell F-4C-22-MC Phantom II aircraft (s/n 64-0727) releasing a B83 nucelar bomb at Edwards Air Force Base during the last flight of the B83 project. Armed, the B83 has a maximum yield of 1.2 megatons. By Zapka, USAF, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

By Rene Wadlow.

“The struggle against the nuclear weapon cult and threats it poses to the international peace,
security and development, like all struggles against belief systems which have outlived their times,
is going to be long and arduous.”
K. Subrahmanyam. Nuclear Proliferation and International Security.

The United Nations General Assembly has designated 26 September as the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, being celebrated this year for the third time;

“to enhance public awareness and education about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons and the necessity for their total elimination in order to mobilize international efforts toward achieving the common goal of a nuclear-weapon free world.”

Achieving global nuclear disarmament − or at least forms of nuclear arms control − is one of the oldest goals of the UN. Nuclear weapon control was the subject of the first resolution of the UN General Assembly and it is the heart of Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.” A Review Conference on the Treaty is held at the United Nations once every five years since 1975, and the representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have constantly reminded governments of their lack of “good faith”.

I chaired the NGO representatives at the 1975 and 1980 Review Conferences, and while our views were listened to with some interest, the Review Conferences have been a reflection of the status of world politics at the time not a momentum for change, as the 2015 Review showed.

There are still some 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world, largely in the hands of the USA and the Russian Federation, some on “ready alert”. There are plans to “modernize” nuclear weapons, and there are at least seven other States with nuclear weapons: North Korea, Pakistan, India and China in Asia, Israel in the Middle East and France and the UK in Europe. The instability and tensions of current world politics merit that we look at the ways in which governments and NGOs have tried to deal with the existence of nuclear weapons, their control and their possible abolition.

There have been four avenues proposed in the decades since 1945: presented, dropped, re-presented, combined with other proposals for political settlements, linked to proposals for general disarmament or focused on nuclear issues alone.

  1.  The first avenue proposed was the Baruch Plan, named after Bernard Baruch, a financier, often advisors to US Presidents going back to Woodrow Wilson and the First World War. He had been named a US delegate to the UN in charge of atomic issues. At the time, the USA had a monopoly of the scientific knowledge and technology needed to produce the A-Bomb, but the scientists who were advisors to Baruch knew that it was only a matter of time before other States, in particular the USSR, would also have the knowledge and technology.
  • Therefore it seemed that the best hope of avoiding an arms race with nuclear weapons was to bring all the atomic energy industry under international UN control. The Baruch Plan proposed the creation of all International Atomic Development Agency which would have a monopoly of all activities connected with atomic research and development such as mining, ownership and management of refineries, and the construction of atomic reactors. The Agency staff would be internationally recruited and would be free from interference from national governments.

However, the Baruch Plan was proposed as the Cold War (1945-1990) was starting to heat up and become more structured. In 1949, the US nuclear monopoly was broken by the explosion of the first Soviet bomb, and then in 1950, war started in Korea.

Bernard Baruch

 BARUCH, BERNARD. By Library of Congress, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Korean War led to the next stage, the second and third avenues in nuclear arms policy, someone contradictory but proposed at the same time, and in the light of the Korean War experience.

  • 2.  Avenue two proposed that limited war could be carried out but with nuclear weapons that were smaller than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and that would not necessary lead to an all-out war between the USA and the USSR. This avenue is most closely associated with Henry Kissinger and his book Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. (1) The 1950-1953 Korean War showed that war was a real possibility, due perhaps to political miscalculations, erroneous intelligence, and failure to see how a local situation could have a much broader impact.

Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State and national security advisor for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. By  LBJ Library, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
  • The Korean War stopped without a victor, leaving a divided Korea, a situation which has gone on until today. The Korean experience augmented by the French-Vietnamese War which ended in 1954 led strategic thinkers to reflect on the nature of limited war. At the same time that Henry Kissinger was writing his book, reflecting largely in similar ways, Robert Osgood of the University of Chicago was teaching a seminar on limited war in which I was one of his students. The seminar led to the widely-read book: Limited War: The Challenge to American Strategy. (2)
  • 3. It was in Europe where the opposing NATOWarsaw Pact forces faced each other most closely, that the third avenue was proposed: nuclear-weapon free zones. In October 1957, the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Adam Rapacki, put forward a plan for creating a nuclear-weapon free and neutral zone in central Europe, usually known as the “Rapacki Plan“. The first stage would be the ‘freezing’ of nuclear armaments in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and the two German States. The second stage would consist of a reduction of conventional armaments and complete de-nuclearization of the four States.

Adam Rapacki

Adam Rapacki (December 24, 1909–October 10, 1970) – a Polish politician and diplomat. By Official photo of members of Politbureau of PZPR after IV Congress. “Trybuna Ludu” 1964 Author:unknown. Wikimedia Commons.

Cuban Missiles Crisis.

Although there had been intense discussions within the Warsaw Pact States before the Rapacki proposal was made public, mutual mistrust and suspicion among NATO and Warsaw Pact countries was such that no negotiations were undertaken. The situation was made all the more complicated by the Western refusal to recognize the German Democratic Republic. However, Rapacki had given birth to the innovative idea of negotiated nuclear-weapon free zones coupled with confidence-building measures.

Nuclear-weapon free zones took shape after the 1962 Cuban missiles crisis. Even today, it is difficult to know how close to a war the 1962 nuclear missiles in Cuba brought the USA and the USSR. It was close enough that it worried leaders in Latin America. Led by the Ambassador of Mexico to the UN and later Nobel Laureate, Alfonso Garcia Robles, negotiations for a Latin American nuclear-weapon free zone were started, and in 1967, 21 Latin American States signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco. In Latin America, two of the largest countries, Argentina and Brazil have nuclear power industries and a potential capacity to develop nuclear weapons. Thus the Treaty provides a confidence-building framework between these two regional powers, although the two States have none of the tensions between them that colored Warsaw Pact-NATO relations.

 

the Cuban Missile Crisis

Hyde Park Protesters October 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. By Don O’Brien, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

The Latin American nuclear-weapon free zone has led to other treaties creating nuclear-weapon free zones in the South Pacific, Africa and Central Asia.

  • 4.  The fourth avenue and the one most discussed at the UN these days is a convention to ban the possession and use of nuclear weapons on the lines of the conventions to ban chemical weapons, anti-personnel land mines and cluster munitions. These bans are based on the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons, the inability to distinguish between civilians and military and other violations of the principles of humanitarian law.

A Nuclear Weapons Convention has captured the imagination of many in the disarmament community, initially among NGOs but increasingly within the governments of non-nuclear weapon States and the diplomatic community. The Nuclear Weapons Convention is strongly modeled on the Chemical Weapons Convention. Having followed from the sidelines the decade-long negotiations in Geneva which led to the Chemical Weapons Convention, I see two major differences. First, there had not been the wide discussions of the strategic use of chemical weapons as there had been on the strategic use of nuclear weapons in limited war situations.

The second difference which had its impact is that the major chemical companies in Western Europe and the USA did not want to get involved in making chemical weapons. The costs for securing the manufacture of such weapons was greater than what they could charge governments for chemical weapons. Western governments were also reluctant to construct government-owned factories for making chemical weapons, all the more so that there existed a 1925 Geneva Protocol against their use. However, there is still money to be made in the nuclear weapons field.

Track II-NGO efforts.

My own view is that effective nuclear-weapon control will come from a combined regional conflict resolution and nuclear-weapon free zone approach that was first set out in the Rapacki proposals. I believe that the Korean Peninsula holds the most potential for a settlement within a nuclear-weapon free zone. There are proposals for re-starting six-power talks, and there are some Track II-NGO efforts along this line. A Middle East nuclear-weapon free zone coupled with conflict resolution and security provisions would be the most necessary given the current tensions and armed conflicts. The recent agreement with Iran may be a step in this direction. India-Pakistan tensions have gone on so long that both States may know how not to push too hard, but there are always dangers of events slipping out of control.

26 September serves as a reminder of the avenues proposed for nuclear disarmament, but disarmament diplomacy has stalled too often and inconsistent policies by governments have made the goal of complete elimination seem unreachable in the short term. Nevertheless we, as non-governmental peacebuilders, must continue to work creatively to generate the groundswell of opinion that will create a momentum of political will to move to a world without war and without nuclear weapons.

 

NOTES.

(1) KISSINGER. H. (1957) Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy. New York: Harper.

(2) OSGOOD. R. (1957) Limited War: The Challenge to American Strategy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

 

Rene Wadlow is President and Representative of the Association of World Citizens to the United Nations, Geneva.

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