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Climate disruption: new study highlights the devastating global impact of regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan

The title of a new study by Toon et al, published this week in Science Advances, speaks volumes: “Rapidly Expanding nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India portend regional and global catastrophe.”

The study models the potential impacts of a regional nuclear conflict and found that, given the increased size and power of their respective nuclear arsenals, the effects of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan would have even more catastrophic impacts than previously thought.

In a scenario where Pakistan uses 150 nuclear weapons and India uses 100 weapons on urban targets, and the two countries use an additional 85 weapons on non-urban targets, over the course of one week:

  • Up to 125 million immediate deaths, killing 2.5 times as many people died worldwide in World War II.
  • Smoke from the fires would trigger massive climate disruption, reducing surface sunlight by 20 to 35% and abruptly decreasing global land temperatures by 4~8˚C
  • Precipitation would be reduced from 15 to 30% globally, with even more severe regional variations: while the US Northeast and Midwest could lose up to 50% of their rainfall, rainfall would practically cease over India and Central China.
  • It would take more than a decade for temperatures and precipitation to return to normal.
  • The decrease in sunlight and precipitation would severely disrupt net primary production, and thereby the entire global food chain. Two billion people would be at risk of famine.

Read the full study in Science Advances

Toonet al 2019 list of findings

Ira Helfand, author of the 2013 report Nuclear Famine: Climate Effects of Regional Nuclear War and member of ICAN’s International steering group, said: “This is an extremely important study which once again shows that the risks of nuclear conflict are catastrophic and unacceptable. States that have or endorse nuclear weapons put the entire world at risk, and all responsible states must push back by joining the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” The 2013 study by International Physicians for the Prevention Nuclear War (IPPNW) explored the impact of the use of 50 Hiroshima-sized bombs by each side during an India-Pakistan nuclear conflict.

“This terrifying study shows that there is no such thing as a ‘contained’ nuclear conflict,” said Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “And this is not a remote scenario. India and Pakistan have had two major military incidences in the past few months. Any use of nuclear weapons will mushroom into a global famine threatening all of human existence. That is why the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the only responsible response.”

The Toon et al study represents the best estimate of the climate science community about the catastrophic global effects of such a conflict. It was an update of a 2013 study that showed the significant disruption caused by the use of 50 bombs per side, each bomb with the power of the bomb used to decimate Hiroshima. But by 2025, India and Pakistan could have three to five times greater than the number of weapons estimated in previous nuclear winter studies. India’s nuclear arsenal is estimated to grow to 200 nuclear weapons by 2025 and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is estimated to grow to 200-250 warheads.

The likelihood of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan also seems to be increasing. Tensions have been escalating in the region and there have been two major confrontations between the two nuclear-armed states in the past year. Just last week, Pakistani president Imran Kahn explicitly warned the UN of the rising risk of such a conflict : “We are heading for a potential disaster of proportions that no one here realises […] It is the only time since the Cuban crisis that two nuclear-armed countries are coming face to face. We did come to face to face in February.”

The only way to eliminate the risk of this catastrophe is to eliminate nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is well on its way to entry into force after gaining 9 new signatories and 5 new states-parties on September 26. Given this new information about the dire consequences of nuclear war, all countries should join them in joining the TPNW and supporting a world without nuclear weapons.

 

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12 States join the Nuclear Ban Treaty on International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2019

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 12 states took another significant step towards achieving this goal by signing or ratifying the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, during a special High-Level Ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The five nations that ratified during the ceremony are:

  • Bangladesh
  • Kiribati
  • Laos
  • Maldives
  • Trinidad & Tobago

These states are also joined by Ecuador, which became the 27th state to ratify the Treaty on September 25th, one day before the ceremony.

The following states signed on to the Treaty:  Botswana, Dominica, Grenada, Lesotho, St Kitts and Nevis, Tanzania and Zambia, as well as the Maldives and Trinidad and Tobago (as the latter two states both signed and ratified the Treaty during the ceremony).

The treaty now has 79 signatories and 32 States Parties. By signing, a State commits to not take any action that would undermine the treaty’s object and purpose. Upon depositing its instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, a state becomes legally bound by the terms of the treaty. When the Treaty has 50 states Parties it will enter into force, making nuclear weapons illegal under international law.

The ceremony was hosted by long-time champions of the Treaty: Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand and enabled presidents and foreign ministers to take this important step while they were gathered at the UNGA.

Scroll through the photos:
Signing and Ratification Ceremony Sept 2019

Newly-elected President of the UN General Assembly, Mr Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, opened the ceremony, and spoke passionately in support of the Treaty’s importance in ending nuclear weapons. “We commend states that have joined TPNW and urge those who have not done so to do join in this most vital action,“ he said during his address to the UNGA Plenary event earlier in the day.

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN, celebrated the move by these 12 countries and the outspoken support for the Treaty around the world throughout the day.  “Away from most cameras, we come together to do the actual work of nuclear disarmament. For the good of your people and the good of the world you propel the Treaty toward entry-into-force […]  Today, in this room, I feel the scale tilting toward the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This day of action gives us all hope at a bleak time.”

After today, the treaty is almost two-thirds of the way to its entry into force, and this momentum is expected to continue. Several countries have confirmed to ICAN that their ratifications are imminent, and campaigners around the world will not stop until every country is on board.

Join the movement to end nuclear weapons

The full ceremony can be viewed here:

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International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons: ICAN statements at United Nations

For other events taking place in New York and around the world to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, follow the live-blog.

ICAN statement to the High-Level Ceremony for the Signature and Ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Delivered by: Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons
26 September 2019, United Nations, New York.

 Excellencies, Distinguished Colleagues,

We find ourselves in this room in what is becoming a happy tradition on the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. It’s appropriate that here and now you, Excellencies, step forward to take concrete action toward nuclear disarmament.

The calendar tends to align this moment toward the end of UN Leaders Week, often after the great bluster of the nuclear-armed states has dissipated. In the General Assembly some leaders deliver harsh words about “blood-lust” and even issue threats. That is not the United Nations at its best.

Away from most cameras we come together to do the actual work of nuclear disarmament. For the good of your people and the good of the world you propel the Treaty toward entry-into-force.

This work is often unsung, as is the work that led many into this room today and will lead more in the days to come.

It is campaigners, diplomats and politicians who stay committed to the TPNW all year round that lead to this moment, today.

In June, ICAN and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana convened a Caribbean Regional Forum on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons to take stock of the Treaty from a regional perspective. This meeting was a vital contribution to our work to achieve early-entry-into-force.

Similarly, ICAN was invited to address the African Union Peace and Security Council and the ECOWAS Parliament on the TPNW. Last month, too, ICAN held a regional Forum on the TPNW for ECOWAS member-states. Our work in these regions is so important because those supporting the Treaty recognize a central truth about nuclear conflict — that the humanitarian catastrophe cannot be contained by political borders.

There is a vibrant and growing movement in support of the TPNW because responsible leaders understand that there is no corner of Africa, the Pacific or the Caribbean region, or anywhere remote enough to be immune to the threat of nuclear weapons.

 When India and Pakistan face off with their nuclear weapons over the disputed region of Kashmir, when the United States and North Korea point their nuclear missiles at each other across the Pacific, that poses inordinate risk to populations and environments located nowhere near the conflict zone. It is for this reason that we are already making plans to continue with these regional initiatives in the coming months and year.

There has been a surprising and inspiring theme running through the UNGA this week, largely due to the overrunning of the halls of power by young people. That theme is that where the status quo threatens to end humanity, silence is not an option. When it comes to the twin existential threats of our time, the threats of climate change and of nuclear weapons, nobody will be spared by a failure to act. And that means we must all act.

ICAN’s role is to ceaselessly tell the truth about the scale of the threat of nuclear weapons. Our job is to raise the voices of the people whose lives and livelihoods will be decimated by nuclear conflict. We cannot hold back about the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, we must point the way toward solutions — not simply “Hope,” but also actions that will make a meaningful difference.

Today, in this room I feel the scale tilting toward the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This day of action gives us all hope at a bleak time.

For those of you who are signing today, congratulations — you have taken the first step. We look forward to celebrating your ratification in the not-too-distant future. If you work quickly enough, you can be among the 50 states that enable this landmark treaty to enter into force.

For those of you who have ratified today, congratulations, you are making history. But don’t think that your job finishes here. We look forward to working with you to bring the rest of the world on board. Every last state.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force, and soon. Our journey has blown past the half-way point thanks to you. But we are absolutely not done yet.

Thank you to everyone in this room for your determination and unwavering commitment to solving one of the greatest threats to humanity.

 

 

ICAN statement to the High-Level Plenary Meeting to commemorate and Promote the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Delivered by: Mitchie Takeuchi

During the UNGA event to mark the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, Campaigner Mitchie Takeuchi, second-generation Hibakusha and granddaughter to the director of the Red Cross hospital in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, delivered the following statement on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons:

Mr. President, distinguished delegates, and colleagues,

My name is Mitchie Takeuchi. I have the honour today to represent the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate. I grew up in Hiroshima and my family survived the atomic bombing in 1945. I wish to share something of my own story and the importance of ICAN’s collective work around the world to usher in an age of the end of nuclear weapons.

In 1938, my grandfather, Ken Takeuchi, became the founding president of the Red Cross Hospital in Hiroshima. On August 6th he and most of his colleagues arrived a little before 8 a.m., which meant they were inside the hospital building before the first war-time use of an atomic bomb levelled my hometown. My grandfather’s request that they come early saved many doctor’s lives, so they could save more civilians that day. Although close to Ground Zero, the Red Cross Hospital withstood total destruction.

My grandfather remembers an enormous blast that caused a heavy door to fly off its hinges and knock him unconscious. When he came to, he was not able to move due to broken bones all over his body. His face also sustained horrible injuries. He had been carried to the outside of the main hospital building. What he saw defies description—unimaginable suffering, wailing and crying, dead bodies everywhere. It was complete chaos.

My 18-year-old mother was on the outskirts of the city. She survived the atomic bomb but was exposed to radiation as she searched for her father. She walked five miles through the hell-scape that Hiroshima City had become.

As we approach 75 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the risk of nuclear use is rising. The nuclear-armed states have embarked on a process to develop even more destructive nuclear weapons. They are tearing up arms control treaties.

Today, humanity faces not one but two existential threats—climate chaos and nuclear weapons. But an alternative future is possible. A future that drastically cuts carbon emissions and a future that eliminates nuclear weapons.

For the latter, this future lies with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In an increasing climate of risk, the TPNW offers an alternative path forward to the irresponsibility and irrationality of world leaders with nuclear weapons. It outlaws nuclear weapons for everyone, for all time. This treaty is the future. It will enter into force. More countries are joining the treaty at ceremony in this very building, at this very moment.

You, member states of the General Assembly, have the power to stand up for the rule of law, peace, security, human rights, and environmental survival. On behalf of the atomic bomb survivors, both living and already deceased, we ask that you support the TPNW by signing and ratifying it. As young climate activist Greta Thunberg said here at the UN this week, “the eyes of all future generations are upon you.”

 

 

 

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Live Blog: International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons 2019

September 26th is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, and it’s going to be a big day. All around the world, ICAN campaigners will be marking the occasion with activities calling for the end of these inhumane immoral weapons, and promoting the UN Treaty that will end them. And at 17:00 EDT, in the United Nations Headquarters in New York, a high level ceremony for the signature and ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will take place.

Tune into the livestream here at 17:00 EDT ⬇

Tune into the livestream here at 17:00 EDT ⬆

For governments: Find more practical information about the Ceremony

The High-Level Ceremony will be hosted by Austria, Brazil, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa and Thailand, states which have historically been at the forefront of the process towards the adoption and entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Other events to mark International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

The UNGA will also be marking the International Day with a plenary event where nations and representatives of civil society will speak to the urgency of ending nuclear weapons for good. Campaigner Mitchie Takeuchi, second generation Hibakusha and granddaughter to the director of the Red Cross hospital in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing, will deliver ICAN’s statement.

 

 Tune in to the UNGA Livestream 

In addition to the events in New York, ICAN campaigners around the world will also be marking the occasion with a variety of activities. Follow the different events happening around the world:

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Nobel Peace Laureates Summit stresses the urgent need to prevent nuclear war

“As Nobel Peace Laureates we have repeatedly warned of the catastrophic consequences of nuclear war and are compelled to do so once again.” This week Nobel Peace Laureates and Peace Laureate Organisations gathered at 17th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Yucatán, Mexico. In Make Your Mark For Peace, the final declaration of the summit, the Laureates and Laureate organisations set out a list of priorities for nuclear disarmament and demilitarisation, including a resounding endorsement for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Read the Full Declaration here

During the summit, members of ICAN’s steering group Maria Eugenia Villareal (SEHLAC) and Ira Helfand (IPPNW, Nobel Peace Prize 1985) spoke passionately about the catastrophic threat posed by nuclear weapons, the role of civil society must play in ending them, and the importance of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The entire panel “Four priorities for Nuclear Disarmament” can be viewed below:

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A movement’s symbol for a world without nuclear weapons

On International Peace Day 2019, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons is providing a sneak peek at its updated look and feel (which will roll out before the end of the year) and diving deep into the history of its iconic logo. 

The icon, a repentant nuclear missile locked in a peace symbol, was designed for ICAN by Australian artist Neil Campbell and inspired by the symbolic artwork of Peter Kennard and Gerald Holtom and the millions of people around the world who rallied behind the movements for peace and an end of nuclear weapons. This is a brief history of its origins:

 Eric Austen, first CND badge. Source: https://cnduk.org/the-symbol/1958: British artist Gerald Holtom designs a symbol for the Alderton march against nuclear war.The logo was a combination of the letters “N” (two arms outstretched pointing down at 45 degrees) and “D” (one arm upraised above the head) of the flag semaphore alphabet, and quickly became the symbol of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. But more than that, the symbol quickly travelled around the world, becoming an international emblem for anti-war movements, and universally associated with Peace to this day.

Read more about the origins of the Peace symbol via CND UK

 

Schematic illustrating the semaphore origins of the Peace Symbol. Read more on Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_symbols#Peace_symbol

 

 

Peter Kennard: Broken Missile 1980: Peter Kennard’s Broken Missile.

This powerful piece of protest art – currently in the Tate Modern museum in London – quickly became a symbol for the movement against the modernisation of the Trident nuclear weapons systems. But above all, it became a symbol for the people’s power agains these inhumane, immoral weapons “ The Crushed Missile photomontage aims to show that it is only protest by the people that can stop the missiles of destruction. Presidents, prime ministers and dictators won’t wash their hands of nuclear weapons unless we campaign against them.”

Read more about Peter Kennard’s work and inspiration
Explore Peter Kennard’s impressive nuclear-disarmament art

 

 


2006: Australian designer Neil Campbell and ICAN Co-founder Dr Bill Williams create a logo for ICAN.  
Inspired by the iconic works of Holtom and Kennard, Bill & Neil created a logo for the newly founded organization that would grow into a symbol for a worldwide movement to promote a global treaty banning nuclear weapons.As Neil Campbell says: “This little visual message was designed by myself and Bill paying homage to, and expanding the life of Gerald’s remarkable symbol – whilst paying cheeky tribute to Peter Kennard … a team effort really.”

Read Neil Campbell’s full story about the logo’s history and significance (PDF)

Since its inception the icon has been freely adopted by partner organisations and campaigners across the world. At times it has been adapted for use on video, printed materials, products and banners, sometimes with slight alterations to colour and form (solid colours, outlines, etc) but the fundamental design remains.

 

 2019: ICAN’s updated look and feel

ICAN Logo 2019

After ICAN achieves a historic milestone in 2017, the successful negotiation of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and receives the Nobel Peace Prize as a recognition for its role in making this Treaty a reality, the campaign turns all its energies into achieving the Treaty’s rapid entry into force, stigmatising nuclear weapons, and empowering people all over the world to take action against them. In 2019, this includes working on an updated, consistent look and feel that reflects the campaign ICAN is and needs to be in order to end nuclear weapons, as well as modern, fit for purpose website. And this International Peace Day, ICAN is lifting the veil on that crucial component of any look and feel: the logo, which remains largely unchanged, in order to honour the long-standing history of this powerful icon, which has meant so much to everyone that has worked on this campaign over the years, and will continue to inspire and symbolise our work to end nuclear weapons.

Join the movement

Both the new look and the new website will be rolled over the coming months, but ICAN campaigners can already access the new styleguide on request.

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Nobel Peace Prize Laureates supports Global Climate Strike

Statement by 17 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates
September 20, 2019

There is a perception that with age comes wisdom, and yet, when it comes to confronting the greatest crisis facing humanity today, it is the young people who are bringing the moral clarity and sense of urgency that is so desperately needed.

We have known about the climate crisis for decades. Yet, year after year, we have failed to begin the transition to the safe, clean and renewable energy that must power this century. Instead, our leaders have insisted on expanding into more oil, gas, and coal with no meaningful plan for bringing our dependence on these planet-damaging fuel sources to an end.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that we have little over a decade to transform our energy systems. Some more recent studies suggest it is even less. Everywhere we turn there are signs of catastrophe: the Amazon in flames, a million plant and animal species at risk of extinction, lives and livelihoods lost in unprecedented droughts, floods, and heatwaves — and the tragic conflict that often follows.

Our words, demands, and letters seem unlikely to change the world. But the momentum of the youth climate strikes can. We have largely failed as the guardians of the planet. And while we are deeply disappointed to have come to this, we are enormously thankful that our generation of leaders has met its match in the faces of our children and grandchildren.

The time for rhetoric and inadequate action has ended. We no longer have the luxury of small steps in the right direction.

As Nobel Laureates from many disciplines and walks of life, we stand in unwavering solidarity with the Global Climate Strike taking place from September 20 to 27—and with the countless young people around the world who are courageously demanding action.

We call on world leaders at the United Nations Secretary General’s Global Climate Action Summit to listen, and respond.

We join in the call to end the age of fossil fuels and demand climate justice for everyone.

 

Signatories:

International Peace Bureau, Nobel Peace Prize, 1910

American Friends Service Committee, Nobel Peace Prize, 1947

Amnesty International, Nobel Peace Prize, 1977

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize, 1980

Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize, 1983

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Nobel Peace Prize, 1985

Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo, Nobel Peace Prize, 1986

Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Nobel Peace Prize, 1992

Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Nobel Peace Prize, 1995

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize, 1997

International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Nobel Peace Prize, 1997

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize, 2003

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize, 2006

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize, 2011

Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize, 2011

Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize, 2014

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, Nobel Peace Prize, 2017

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New Study on US-Russia nuclear war: 91.5 million casualties in first few hours

34.1 million people could die, and another 57.4 million could be injured, within the first few hours of the start of a nuclear war between Russia and the United States triggered by one low-yield nuclear weapon, according to a new simulation by researcher’s at Princeton‘s Science and Global Security programme.


 Read more about Princeton’s simulation 

But that’s not all. The overall death toll would be even higher due to long-term consequences of a nuclear war, including radioactive fallout and global cooling of the Earth’s atmosphere, researchers add. Even a limited nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan could put one billion people at risk of starvation and another 1.3 billion at risk of severe food insecurity due to global cooling, according to a 2013 study by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

The Princeton simulation, ironically entitled “Plan A,” comes as the United States works to develop brand new low-yield nuclear weapons, despite the opposition of leading Democratic members of Congress, and demonstrates that even lower-yield nuclear weapons can have devastating consequences.

The researchers used independent assessments of current U.S. and Russian nuclear force postures, including the number of warheads deployed and their yields, war plans and targets to create the simulation.

Equally alarming as the casualty toll of this nuclear war simulation is the growing probability that it becomes a reality.

“The risk of nuclear war has increased dramatically in the past two years as the United States and Russia have abandoned long-standing nuclear arms control treaties, started to develop new kinds of nuclear weapons and expanded the circumstances in which they might use nuclear weapons,” wrote the Princeton researchers on the project website.

“‘Plan A’ shows that there is no sane plan once a nuclear weapon is launched,” said Alicia Sanders-Zakre, Policy and Research Coordinator at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. “A better plan is to reject nightmare nuclear scenarios and support the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”

Join the movement to end nuclear weapons

 

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New cross-party working group to support TPNW in German Parliament

Support for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) keeps growing in the German Parliament. After 166 federal and over 200 regional parliamentarians pledged their support for the TPNW through the ICAN Parliamentary Appeal, a new cross-party working group for the abolition of nuclear weapons had their first meeting on Wednesday. 

The “Parlamentskreis Atomwaffenverbot” arose because 25 Members of the Bundestag felt the need for a forum to bring together the many MPs who are working towards Germany signing the prohibition of nuclear weapons. While they may not have a majority in Parliament, 166 already sign the ICAN Parliamentary Appeal. Counting also the German parliamentarians at regional and EU level, 507 have signed the appeal as of now.

 

While the Government is still hesitant, at the federal, regional and European levels, German politicians are increasingly demanding that Berlin sign on to the Treaty. Three regional governments have recently endorsed this call, including the State of Rheinland-Pfalz, which currently hosts around 20 US nuclear weapons. The state prime minister Malu Dreyer, currently one of two acting Chairs of the SPD, took the initiative after Berlin and Bremen had already done so.

Beyond the three federal states, almost 50 cities have already signed on to the ICAN Cities Appeal, including Munich, Cologne, and the regional capitals of Potsdam, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Hannover, Schwerin and Düsseldorf.

Katja Keul, one of the group’s initiators and representative of the German Greens, said to TAZ-newspaper that “The long-term goal must be that Germany joins the nuclear weapons ban treaty.” While the co-initiators Ralf Kapschack and Kathrin Vogel are Social Democrats and from the Left Party respectively, the founding meeting was also attended by conservative law-makers, including Michael Zimmer.

Leo Hoffmann-Axthelm represented ICAN at the launch event in the German Bundestag, noting that “with the Government playing for time on nuclear disarmament, this kind of parliamentary initiative is crucial to create a debate about our reliance on weapons of mass destruction. We need to bring the government’s position closer to citizens, who overwhelmingly demand the prohibition of nuclear weapons and their withdrawal from Germany.”

Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of ICAN welcomed the new initiative as a great example of elected officials standing up to end nuclear weapons.  “When the threat of nuclear use is increasing, we’re seeing parliamentarians across the world taking action to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. ICAN looks forward to working with this group of German MPs to get the German government to sign the TPNW”

Going forward, the parliamentary intergroup expects to meet twice yearly, keep members updated about the ratification progress of the Treaty in other European states and putting in place the deliberative space and strategic thinking required to move Germany closer towards the signature of TPNW, inviting experts, activists, and increasing the pressure on the Foreign Minister to better justify the Government’s hesitance.

Photos: Katja-keul.de

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The U.S. Missile Test: Provocative and Unnecessary

Just 16 days after formally withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the United States tested on August 18 a cruise missile that would have violated the terms of the treaty had it still been in force. Provocative and unnecessary, the action escalates a nuclear arms race the world cannot afford to have. The United States plans an additional test later this year.

Russia and China immediately condemned the test and warned about the consequences of a renewed arms race, and the United Nations Security Council met on 22 August to discuss the situation. Numerous representatives expressed fears about a new global arms race at the meeting and called for better dialogue on arms control agreements; the South African representative specifically urged the United Nations community to sign and ratify the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The type of cruise missile tested is particularly destabilising because it can host either a nuclear or non-nuclear warhead. When launched, others might not know if it is a nuclear strike or not, but choose to respond as if it was. The ambiguity can lead to mistrust and escalation.

“The nuclear weapons arms race is here and we all have a choice,” said ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn. “We can remain passive and wait for these weapons of mass destruction to be used or we can fight for the stigmatization, prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. I urge countries that have not done so to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.”

The United States and Russia signed the INF Treaty in 1987. In recent years, each side has accused the other of violating the terms of the treaty. The United States claimed Russia developed numerous noncompliant missile battalions and waited for years for Russia to return to compliance. Russia claimed that the United States’ deployment of a specific missile launcher in eastern Europe violated the treaty, while the United States maintained the version deployed in Europe could only launch defensive missiles, not offensive ones. Notably, the United States used the launch equipment in question for its test of an offensive missile this month, a fact that can only reinforce Russia’s concerns. For its part, Russia does not seem inclined to shy away from a new arms race, as President Putin has boasted about developing new “invincible” nuclear weapons.

Aside from increasing the risk of the use of nuclear weapons, this new arms race means that United States taxpayers will pay nearly $500 billion over the next ten years to maintain and modernize its country’s nuclear weapons arsenal – and an estimated $1.7 trillion over the next 30 years. Every dollar spent on nuclear weapons in any country represents a missed opportunity to improve programs that enhance social well-being and security of the people.

The devastating humanitarian and environmental impact from the development, testing, and use of nuclear weapons has been made abundantly clear by decades of evidence. In the face of this reality, the global community took a bold step to approve in 2017 a new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The Treaty universally condemns any actions related to nuclear weapons and strips them – and the underlying theory of nuclear deterrence – of legitimacy.

As some nations seem prepared to embark on a morally bankrupt, fiscally devastating arms race, the majority of the world’s states have turned to a hopeful and realistic alternative. A growing community of states have signed and ratified the Treaty, which will enter into force once 50 states have ratified it. You can learn more about it here.