On Monday 4th February there will be a peaceful protest at both the Russian and US Consulates in Edinburgh to register alarm at the breakdown of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The INF is a bi-lateral treaty between the US and Russia and bans the deployment of nuclear weapons with a range of between 300 and 3400 miles. The INF was agreed by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987 in a mutual recognition that land-based mobile weapon systems like the US Pershing and the Soviet SS 20 dangerously reduced the threshold for all-out nuclear war. Intermediate-range nuclear weapon systems were the main focus of disarmament movements in the 80’s, such as at Greenham Common. In the last few days both the US have said they will withdraw from the treaty, effectively causing its collapse.
Janet Fenton, of ICAN’s International Steering Group, said:
“Thanks to 1980’s civil society’s heightened awareness of the terrible danger and the enormous public pressure on governments, the US and Russia agreeing the INF was effective in reducing the threat of nuclear war. The nuclear arms race we now face carries even more horrific risk in such a fluid and volatile world order, involving weak governments and non-state actors added to the political spectrum and cyber attack possible on the weapons systems. The nuclear-arms states must cease their criminally infantile brinkmanship and start real constructive talking again. Above all, this dangerous episode illustrates how vulnerable arms control measures are to political change. The only irreversible solution is elimination of nuclear weapons. Again civil society is demanding change,with prohibition and elimination as the purpose of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)1 which includes provision for nuclear armed states to disarm while addressing their security concerns.”
Michael Orgel, of Medact Scotland, said:
“The suspension of the INF Treaty today heightens risks for all of us. An escalating nuclear arms race will lead us further to the brink of nuclear war by accident or design. Any medical response to a nuclear attack would be extremely limited and largely ineffective because of the complete devastation caused to roads, buildings and electricity supplies. Even if some medics could treat those not killed instantly by the immense force of the blast, they would lack the resources to provide meaningful care. Researchers estimate that more than two billion people could die of starvation in the years following even a ‘limited’ nuclear war. And just 1.5% of the world’s nuclear weapons could dim the sunlight and cause a nuclear winter resulting in the possible extinction of the human race.”
Gari Don, Director of UN House Scotland, said:
The hitherto global commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 162 is being challenged to breaking point. We have until 2 August 2019, the date the US withdrawal can be revoked, to bring back the sanity of a rules-based world order. It appears to be impossible for States Parties to achieve and maintain this, so we in civil society must do everything we possibly can to highlight the lunacy of legal anarchy. This is the time for all of us to recognise, support and deliver the momentum behind the moral rationality of the TPNW.
The protests will take place at the Russian consulate in Melville Street at 9 a.m. , and at the US consulate on Regent Terrace at 10.15 a.m.C
1 The Treaty On the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted at the UN in July 2017. It will enter into force when it has been signed and ratified by 50 member states –un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/
The International Campaign to abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)icanw.org was founded in 2007 and has partner organisations in one hundred countries world wide. It was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its contribution to the TPNW. Scottish partner organisations are: Scottish CND www.banthebomb.org, Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre peaceandjustice.org.uk, UN House .www.unhscotland.org.uk, MEDACT (Scotland)medact.org/project/scotland, Northern Friends Peace Boardnfpb.org.uk and Trident Ploughshares – tridentploughshares.org.
2 UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 is for Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions