THE HUMANITARIAN INITIATIVE AND THE TPNW

Alexander Kmentt is one of the architects of the initiative on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In this article he gives the rationale for the Humanitarian Initiative and counters criticism of the Treaty. He points out what a step-change the TPNW is, marking the point that: “Rather than continue to merely demand disarmament progress from nuclear-weapon states, a prohibition of nuclear weapons emerged as the one concrete action that non-nuclear-weapon states were able to effect themselves.

With the Treaty now established as international law the challenge for us all is to work for its progress. This will involve being savvy about the arguments of those who resist that progress. It will involve challenging the conventional narrative about nuclear deterrence and focusing instead on the humanitarian consequences and the appalling risks. This article is an excellent place to start.

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ICAN in the UK Letter to PM as Nuclear Ban Treaty enters into Force

To: Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, UK Prime Minister 10 Downing St London SW1A 2AA

Cc: Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Affairs

Cc: Rt Hon Ben Wallace MP, Secretary of State for Defence

22 January 2021

Entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Dear Prime Minister,

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons becomes binding international law today, following the ratification of the 50th state on 24 October 2020.

On behalf of UK-based partner organisations of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN, the 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate), we welcome this important multilateral Treaty which will not only ban the production, testing, deployment, possession and use of nuclear weapons, but also prohibit those bound by it from assisting others in these illegal endeavours.

While we are disappointed that UK diplomats decided not to attend the negotiations that led to the Treaty, we note that the Treaty has the overwhelming endorsement of the UN General Assembly, where over two thirds of countries support it. We further note that the United Nations Secretary-General views the Treaty as an “important element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime”.

Irrespective of the UK’s current position, the Treaty’s impact will be increasingly felt here in Britain. The Scottish Government publicly supports it and seeks to rid Scotland of Trident and end the dangerous transportation of warheads between Faslane, Coulport, and Berkshire’s bomb factories, Aldermaston and Burghfield.

Major international banks and financial institutions are divesting from nuclear weapons production, informed by ICAN’s “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” campaign.

Cities across Britain, including Manchester, Edinburgh, Oxford, Brighton and Hove, Norwich and Leeds, have signed up to support the Treaty’s implementation. Many more Councils will follow.

Nuclear weapons are dangerous security risks, not assets. They are useless for tackling today’s major threats like the COVID-19, climate and ecological emergencies. Whether intentional or accidental, nuclear weapons use would have catastrophic global humanitarian consequences – the UK therefore has a responsibility to work with the global community on this issue.

We urge the government to engage constructively with this Treaty, which will help create a more favourable environment for the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, rescheduled for 2021 due to Covid.

Until such time that Britain joins the Treaty, we call on the UK to participate in meetings of states parties as an observer and contribute to discussions including those on disarmament verification, environmental remediation and victim assistance.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Austin, Northern Friends Peace Board (Quakers)

Councillor David Blackburn, Nuclear Free Local Authorities

Sue Claydon, Anglican Pacifist Fellowship

John Cooper, Fellowship of Reconciliation

Tim Devereux, Movement for the Abolition of War

Ben Donaldson, United Nations Association – UK

Dr Gari Donn, United Nations Association – Scotland

Janet Fenton, United Nations House Scotland

Dr Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

Prof Lynn Jamieson, Scottish CND

Dr Rebecca E. Johnson, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy

Brian Jones, CND Cymru

Bruce Kent, Pax Christi

Gina Langton, 80,000 Voices

Brian Larkin, Peace and Justice Centre

Fiona MacGregor, Hastings Against War

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis FFPH FRCP, Chair of Medact

David Maxwell, Christian CND

Elizabeth Minor, Article 36

Dr Lesley Morrison, MEDACT (Scotland)

Marian Pallister, Pax Christi Scotland

Dr Stuart Parkinson, Scientists for Global Responsibility

Oliver Robertson, Head of Witness and Worship, Quaker Peace and Social Witness

John Sauven, Greenpeace UK

Paula Shaw, WILPF UK

Jane Tallents, XR Peace

Dave Webb, Yorkshire CND

Angie Zelter, Trident Ploughshares

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Marking the Progress of The Nuclear Ban Treaty

As far as the Nuke Ban Treaty is concerned the 22nd January is a day for a double celebration. On that day the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) enters into force as international law, binding those states that have ratified to abide by its articles. It’s a day to bang the drum, ring the bells, hang the banners, chalk the streets.

The other cause for celebration is the real progress of the Treaty itself. While awareness of the TPNW is very low in the UK, in the fresh air of the wider world things are shifting in the right direction. Here are just a few indicators of how positions are moving from initial disregard and criticism of the TPNW towards a level of recognition and acceptance. When the UN General Assembly got a further opportunity to endorse the Treaty on the 7th December last year it did so emphatically with 130 nations registering there continued support. There have also been nuanced but significant position changes by both China (itself a member of the nuclear Big Five) and Canada. On the 25th October a Tweet from the Chinese Mission to the UN ran: “China has always been advocating complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, which is fundamentally in line with purposes of #TPNW. China will continuously make relentless efforts towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.” Cynical perhaps, but taken at its lowest it is still a recognition that to speak against the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons does not place you well in global opinion.

In 2017, Canada’s premier Justin Trudeaux called the Treaty “useless”, echoing the sneers that were current then from the US, France and the UK, and when it was adopted by the UN in July that year he said it was “premature”. There has been a small but meaningful shift. Following the 50th ratification of the Treaty in October last year Global Affairs Canada said: “We acknowledge the widespread frustration with the pace of global efforts toward nuclear disarmament, which clearly motivated the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of of Nuclear Weapons.”

The point here is that in a globalised world the big players, states, corporations and institutions, are concerned for their reputations. Japan, as a state theoretically sheltering under the US nuclear umbrella, refuses to sign the TPNW. Yet it is also a country which, uniquely, has suffered a nuclear attack and where 75% of the population want Japan to join the Treaty. Two of Japan’s biggest financial institutions have now begun to take account of the TPNW. Sumitomo Life Ins. Co., whose huge tower dominates the Shinjuku skyline, does not have guidelines on investing in nuclear weapons companies, but has recently said it will consider exercising restraint as investing in such companies would hurt its reputation once the nuclear ban treaty takes effect. The stance taken by the investment giant MUFG is less opportunistic and more ethically based. It will no longer invest in nuclear weapon production as it now classes them along with “other inhumane weapons”.

Another key sign is the failure of the US to stop the TPNW reaching entry into force. To date it has only just managed to keep its NATO clients in line but its attempt in October last year to prevent new states from ratifying, and to urge those who had already ratified to withdraw, was a complete and humiliating failure.

It is the emphasis on the inhumanity of nuclear weapons together with the hard reality of the risks of nuclear exchange that has been the key to the growing enhancement of the Treaty’s stature. The basic message is simple: nuclear weapons are horrific in their effects and the risk over time that they will be used is utterly intolerable. The petrol can sits on the edge of a shelf close to the open fire. The only solution is elimination.

Like the climate emergency nuclear weaponry is an existential threat to humanity and the planet. Beyond that there is a further parallel. Up to this point it is the possessors of nuclear weapons who have been able to have almost complete ownership of the disarmament agenda. The TPNW is a claim to shared ownership of the nightmare problem, since any nuclear exchange is a threat to us all, just as the Global South, already suffering the effects of climate change, is increasingly challenging the disproportionate carbon emitters of the rich nations. The pandemic is surely teaching us that on this wee, fragile planet we have to come together for solutions. The Nuke Ban Treaty is bang on that track.

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We must maintain the momentum of the Nuclear Ban Treaty

This is a summary of Ambassador Kmentt’s address to Scottish CND’s AGM on 21st November 2020. A recording of the talk is available here.

Speaking in a personal capacity Alexander addressed the significance of the TPNW and the arguments against it, and went on to outline how its progress might best be supported. A key feature is the focus on the humanitarian consequences and the recognition that these consequences are much more grave and complex than previously understood. The Treaty moves the discourse from the abstractions around the deterrence concept to the concrete – the real risks and impacts of the weapons and the emphasis on human security. It is an expression of the need for the non-nuclear states to take responsibility themselves for addressing the risks, rather than simply making demands on the nuclear-armed states. The Treaty has depended on working within the UN General Assembly, thus breaking free of the usual consensus model for disarmament negotiations which has hitherto given a de facto veto to the nuclear-armed states. The TPNW illuminates the impossibility of combining deterrence theory with human security and international humanitarian law. For example deterrence can make no provision for restitution and environmental repair in the case of an accidental detonation. The TPNW can transform the whole discourse.

The established nuclear think-tanks are fighting back against the Treaty but the fact and nature of this opposition is evidence of the sharp challenge it presents to the conventional discourse. It is notable that the nuclear establishment fight-back does not deal with the humanitarian dimension. It is argued that the TPNW must be ineffectual since the nuclear-armed states are not involved, yet it present a sharp challenge to the deterrence doctrine. It is claimed that the Treaty disregards the “security” environment, yet there is no attempt to elucidate whose security is at risk. The Treaty exposes the basic position of the nuclear-armed states – to postpone disarmament until the “security” environment allows it, so indefinitely. There is also the accusation that the TPNW undermines the NPT, despite it being precisely crafted to support Article V1, and despite the fact that Ireland, which was key in developing the NPT, and South Africa, which responded to the NPT by disarming, are strong supporters.

Civil society can support the Treaty by taking advantage of the broader and more inclusive discourse that focusses on humanitarian consequences, as with climate change high-lighting the links bewteen the two threats. This is pertinent for Scotland as the location of nuclear weapons and the risks that brings in the case of accidental detonation or nuclear conflict. In the UK, a House of Lords committee at least acknowledges the Treaty, urging the government to take its existence seriously, to be more open and to adopt a less aggressive tone.

There are two scenarios. The TPNW may be unsuccessful in challenging the nuclear status quo or it can lead to greater engagement with international humanitarian law. Maintaining its momentum is the key.

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Shifting the Norm for Nukes

The Nuke Ban Treaty and the Global Social Norm

We are well used to dramatic norm shifts in our recent social history. Recall the low internal visibility, stink and grime of pubs before the smoking ban, or the hahaha from drivers who had managed to drive home utterly guttered without killing anyone. On a slightly longer view there was the accepted habit of burning witches – the last one in Scotland, Janet Horne, was a mere 300 years ago.

A couple of weeks ago at the Nuclear Disarmament Cross Party Group in the Parliament we heard from Sean Crowe TD about the Irish Parliament passing legislation to line up with the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). His audience was impressed and intrigued that the bill was passed unanimously but Sean seemed to be a little puzzled by our reaction. What else would you expect? It was the bleeding obvious (though his terminology was more circumspect than that).

The big bad world also has a social dynamic. Like big businesses all the big nations take account of reputational risk – especially relevant in today’s world in which the power tectonics are slipping and creaking. Even authoritarian states guard their global reputations as they attempt to expand or protect their spheres of influence. When satellites exposed the internment camps in Xinjiang the Chinese government launched a blizzard of whitewashing and misinformation. If reputational risk was a not a feature they would just have told the world to bugger off.

The TPNW has been impinging on assessments of reputational risk for some time and this has stepped up with the 50th ratification on 24th October and its entry into force on January 22nd next year. A number of big international investment corporations have caught the drift, such as the giant Japanese finance company MUFG which now classes nuclear weapons along with other inhumane weapons. Since the 50th ratification there have been nuanced but significant position changes by both China (itself a member of the nuclear Big Five) and Canada. On the 25th October a Tweet from the Chinese Mission to the UN ran: “China has always been advocating complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, which is fundamentally in line with purposes of #TPNW. China will continuously make relentless efforts towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.” Cynical perhaps, but taken at its lowest it is still a recognition that to speak against the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons does not place you well in global opinion. And that is one of the beauties of the Treaty. It poses that critical question. Are you for the end of nuclear weapons and if not through the Treaty what precisely is your plan?

In 2017, Canada’s premier Justin Trudeaux called the Treaty “useless”, echoing the sneers that were current then from the US, France and the UK, and when it was adopted by the UN in July that year he said it was “premature”. Since the 24th October there has been a small but meaningful shift. Following the 50th ratification Global Affairs Canada said: “We acknowledge the widespread frustration with the pace of global efforts toward nuclear disarmament, which clearly motivated the negotiation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of of Nuclear Weapons.”

This norm shift is perhaps a little slow to roll right now in the tight enclave that is the United Kingdom. Channel 5 still thinks it is OK to make a slice-of-human-life documentary aboard one of the UK’s very own genocidal nuclear submarines. Can you imagine: the heart-warming account of the daily life of a unit handling poison gas? The mundane preoccupations of bulldozer drivers as they excavate mass grave plots, just in case they are needed? No, I thought not. Yet we have managed to make our particular obscenity quite cuddly, really. But even here there are signs. In a recent interview Labour’s Shadow Defence spokesperson repeated the party’s utterly deplorable backing of the renewal of the UK’s nuclear arsenal and intensified the absurdity by saying that it was our duty as a P5 state to modernise. Yet even he had to acknowledge that the TPNW was “an important milestone”, though what meaning can be attached to that contradiction remains obscure.

And there is not doubt that in nuclear weapon-addicted states like ours the norm will mainly be changed by heightening the stigma the weapons attract. We can do this by avoiding getting totally sidetracked into secondary arguments (important though they may be), such as strategic value, obscene costs, waste of high order skills, etc. and instead keeping on hammering home that they are utterly inhumane and threaten human life across the planet. In Scotland we are maybe beginning to get there but if we are not careful we can so easily slip back into the old track of passive acceptance of the utterly unacceptable.

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MSP/MP MODEL APPEAL

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NEXT STEPS FOR TPNW –

On 22 January, the states that have ratified the TPNW will be bound by its prohibitions and also its obligations – including universalisation – which means urging all the world’s governments to join. Already, the norm is starting to shift as the Canadian Government, a strong opposer, took an opportunity at the UN to state that while they still were not ready to support it, Canada could see that there was merit in the Treaty and its aims. The occasion was a UN review of the adoption of the Treaty, where it was supported by over 100 member states. The UN has also postponed the (already postponed from last May) NPT Review Conference from January to August 2021. The discussions will now be set to include reference to how the NPT and the TPNW relate, so the Review has been put off until the latest possible date (within 5 years of the last Review Conference) – and certainly the nuclear armed states will not want it to take place in the glare of publicity that will surround Entry into Force of the TPNW. Divestment continues to advance, and we must ensure that Scotland’s commitment to the TPNW is firmly on the agenda during the Holyrood election debate. Watch this space for actions that you can take to achieve this. Meanwhile, this article about the good news of the nuclear weapons ban treaty’s imminent entry into force has been published by the International Law Association (Australian Branch):

http://ilareporter.org.au/2020/11/nuclear-weapons-have-always-been-inhumane-and-unacceptable-soon-they-will-be-illegal-tilman-ruff/
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NUKE BAN TREATY BECOMES INTERNATIONAL LAW!!

With Honduras’ ratification on 24th October 2020 the TPNW has now acquired the necessary 50 ratifications to enter into force as international law.

The TPNW 1 was adopted at the UN in July 2017 with the support of 122 member states.. When the 50th state ratifies, there remains only the 90 day period allowed by the UN for all states that are members of the treaty to prepare their practical and or legislative arrangements before the Treaty finally enters completely into force.

Terms of the Treaty

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. As well as prohibitions, the Treaty carries positive obligations, which include suppression of violations of the prohibitions on its territory and the requirement to urge non member states to join.

Scope of the Treaty

All of the treaties prohibiting inhumane weapons have an effect on global understanding and the interpretation of International Humanitarian Law. They have created stigma and they change the global perception of what is acceptable. Each of these treaties is binding on its state parties – the states which have ratified or acceded to it. It does not add any formal obligations to states which are not parties. For example, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention have been ratified by a large majority of UN states but have not been ratified by the US, China, Russia and Israel, among others. To date, none of the nine nuclear-armed states have ratified or indeed signed the TPNW. The use of a nuclear weapon, as an indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction, has always been illegal under the basic principles of international humanitarian law. The TPNW, as a specific and targeted legal instrument, builds on that legal basis.2

General Impact of the Treaty

Major treaties on prohibition have all impacted hugely on states that haven’t ratified them. 3They have created stigma and they change the global perception of what is acceptable. This norm shift is significant in a world in which even authoritarian states guard their global reputations as they attempt to expand or protect their spheres of influence.

There are also significant practical factors. In a globalised economy physical resources and capital for investment in production are cross-border factors and the production of nuclear weapon systems and delivery platforms requires enormous sums. A number of significant international investment corporations, being risk adverse, have noted the emergence of the Treaty and have already decided to cease investment in nuclear weapons4. The most recent example is the giant Japanese finance company MUFG which now classes nuclear weapons along with other inhumane weapons5. The Treaty will also affect nuclear-related transit through territorial airspace or seas. Crucially, the US is fully aware of these impacts and has applied pressure6, particularly on NATO states, to prevent them from engaging with the Treaty, on the basis that it will hamper their ability to maintain what they call their “extended deterrence” – the nuclear “umbrella”. In recent days the US has written to state parties to the Treaty, urging them to withdraw7.

Support for the Treaty

Through the legislative processes available, Parliamentarians and legislators have pledged and passed resolutions supporting the treaty globally rather than nationally, Already, over 1,600 elected representatives have called on their governments to join the TPNW, as have capitals in nuclear-armed states like Paris and Washington D.C. – this includes legislators in Scotland and in the rest of the UK.

Impact on the UK and on Scotland

Internationally, the UK is seen as the most likely of the nuclear-armed states to be brought to the table.. There is the pressure arising from the distinctive Scottish public, parliamentarian and government stance which undermines any claim to a mandate. There is the serious fiscal and managerial disorder in the project to renew the nuclear weapon system and the growing likelihood that a fully equipped Dreadnought platform will not be ready in time to take over the from the ageing ISBN submarine fleet8. There is also a looming crisis in overall government expenditure. States which are not party to the Treaty, as well as relevant institutions and non-governmental organisations, can observe the meetings of the TPNW after it enters into force and pressure will be put on the UK government to seek observer status at the Treaty’s first Meeting of States Parties.

The Treaty’s Entry into Force will provide a strong boost to the already strong Scottish public, parliamentarian and government opposition to the UK’s nuclear weapons. It will also be a key factor should Scotland achieve independence, persist with that opposition, and ratify the TPNW.

The following Treaty Articles are especially pertinent:

Article 1. g) Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control.

Article 4. para 4. A State Party that has any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or in any place under its jurisdiction or control that are owned, possessed or controlled by another State shall ensure the prompt removal of such weapons, as soon as possible but not later than a deadline to be determined by the first meeting of States Parties . . .

Scotland would then have the specific and unqualified backing of international law, (as well as huge international support) to have the weapons removed and to resist any pressure to give the UK a long lease of the Clyde nuclear weapon bases. Without a feasible UK re-location option9 the remnant Westminster government would be faced with no credible alternative to disarmament.

1https://www.un.org/disarmament/wmd/nuclear/tpnw/ See also https://www.icanw.org/the_treaty for description and analysis. ICAN was 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner on account of its work on the TPNW.

2From the Preamble of the Treaty: “Basing themselves on the principles and rules of international humanitarian

law, in particular the principle that the right of parties to an armed conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited, the rule of distinction, the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks, the rules on proportionality and precautions in attack,the prohibition on the use of weapons of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, and the rules for the protection of the natural environment,”

3 The US has not ratified the CBTC, nor the Convention on Cluster Munitions but the US Government is affected by media condemnation and seeks to be seen as complying; chemical weapons are prohibited, and are strongly condemned by the US but the US only ratified that treaty two days before it entered into force; the treaty prohibiting biological weapons was only ratified by the US (and the UK) the day after it entered into force – three years after it opened for signature; the US still has not signed or ratified the Landmine treaty, but no longer manufacture or use landmines because 80% of UN member states have, and the treaty makes them completely unacceptable to the international community.

4https://www.icanw.org/the_36_banks

5https://www.mufg.jp/dam/press release/2020/pdf/news-20200513-002_en.pdf

6https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/ican/pages/821/attachments/original/1590165765/NATO_OCT2016.pdf?1590165765

7https://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-urges-nations-to-withdraw-support-for-un-nuclear-weapons-prohibition-treaty-ap/?ftag=CNM-00-10aag7e

8See https://www.nuclearinfo.org/article/dreadnought-barrow/mod-admits-problems-rolls-royce-could-delay-dreadnought

9http://www.banthebomb.org/docs/stng-pamphlet-final.pdf

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Scotland and the Nuclear Weapon Red Line

This article was first published in the Scottish Socialist Party’s Newspaper “Voice”

Right now I guess that the diverse collective of those who have an investment in a Scottish status quo has accepted that formal independence is pretty well inevitable, sooner or later. Their focus will now be mainly on ensuring that conditions favourable to their interests remain firmly in place even after the divorce. Why worry about Scotland having its own seat at the UN if it still can be irradiated with brutal capitalism and still contains an entire nexus of military platforms for global power games? The collective will hope to continue to have nod-and-wink access to Prestwick for dubious military transits, airfields for NATO surveillance ops, deregulated trade arrangements with destructive environmental, health and worker welfare effects, factories engaged in arms manufacture and complicit in war on civilians, vast tracts of land still under the control of a transnational elite, continuing generous scope for corruption and money laundering, and yes, of course, a Green Zone at Faslane/Coulport guaranteeing for undefined decades ahead a very Scottish launch-pad for genocidal weapons.

If you want specific evidence that their hopes are not unrealistic have a look at the Sutherland Space Hub project, which the Scottish government has spinelessly allowed to go ahead. We now learn that it will be open to military use. To give an additional foothold to global arms manufacturers at this critical stage in Scotland’s story is at the least incredibly stupid. These things are much harder to uproot when fully embedded. Now’s the time to rip them out.

The UK’s nuclear weapons have to go as soon as is safely and practically possible. That’s a red line – a key indicator of whether we really want a new start. Bill Kidd MSP and others have done their bit in re-iterating the SNP’s commitment to exactly that. These bombs are deadly, even in their unarmed state and it will require people who know what they are doing to remove them from the missiles on the subs, store them temporarily in Coulport until they are all taken south, a small number at a time, probably using the same convoy system that is currently operates to maintain and refurbish them. This can be done in an orderly way within two years.

We will not be doing this on our own. The ability of an independent Scotland to effect a removal has been enormously strengthened by the arrival of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). By the time we gain independence the TPNW will have entered into force (that could happen in early 2021). We immediately ratify it so as to be legally bound by all its prohibitive articles. The following Treaty Articles are especially pertinent:

Article 1. g) Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances allow any stationing, installation or deployment of any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or at any place under its jurisdiction or control.

Article 4. para 4. A State Party that has any nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in its territory or in any place under its jurisdiction or control that are owned, possessed or controlled by another State shall ensure the prompt removal of such weapons, as soon as possible but not later than a deadline to be determined by the first meeting of States Parties . . .

We then have full legal backing for an eviction order, as well as huge international support. Indeed the Treaty’s Article 7 outlines in some detail what practical form that support may take. Like a genuine response to the climate crisis and the management and mitigation of pandemics the end of nuclear weapons requires a coherent worldwide response. We are accustomed to thinking that the power triangle is wee Scotland against the intransigence of Westminster with the US Godfather in the background. Not on this one. The world will be watching and cheering us on.

What is vital is what we do about this now. With a Holyrood election impending we must do what we can to ensure that candidates and voters fully get the linkage between the end of nukes in Scotland and the TPNW. Scottish CND’s open working group on the Treaty is developing a Candidates Pledge to back the TPNW for the use of local groups, individuals and political parties, and is also preparing material for online meetings and street work. Contact us at hello@nuclearban.scot for more information and read the Treaty for yourself at icanw.org/the_treaty.

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Huge Boost for the TPNW from 56 former National and NATO Leaders

As the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) edges ever closer to becoming international law, it has just received a huge and significant endorsement. Fifty-six former presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and defence ministers from 20 NATO member states, as well as from Japan and South Korea, have just issued an open letter calling on their current governments to join the Treaty. All of these states are so-called “umbrella states” that currently claim protection from US nuclear weapons and have not yet joined the Treaty – so the letter does not involve the actual nuclear-weapon states like the UK. The letter will be sent to the current leaders of these 20 states. The co-signers include the former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and two former NATO Secretaries-General, Javier Solana and Willy Claes.

In their letter the former leaders say:

It is not difficult to foresee how the bellicose rhetoric and poor judgment of leaders in nuclear-armed nations might result in a calamity affecting all nations and peoples. As past leaders, foreign ministers and defence ministers of Albania, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey — all countries that claim protection from an ally’s nuclear weapons — we appeal to current leaders to advance disarmament before it is too late. . .

By claiming protection from nuclear weapons, we are promoting the dangerous and misguided belief that nuclear weapons enhance security. Rather than enabling progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons, we are impeding it and perpetuating nuclear dangers — all for fear of upsetting our allies who cling to these weapons of mass destruction.”

Janet Fenton, ICAN liaison in Scotland said:

Signing the TPNW does not hinder or prevent any UN member state from entering or remaining in any military co operation or alliance that alliance they wish, it just prohibits them from participating in nuclear weapons preparations assistance or activities. NATO and the nuclear armed states are very aware that the TPNW, far from conflicting with the NPT as they suggest, is already changing the norm around nuclear weapons through divestment and increased understanding of the global humanitarian consequences of their use. Thus the TPNW provides the much-needed legal instrument that will ensure that the nuclear-armed states comply with its disarmament obligations. That is why the US, France, the UK and NATO are exerting so much pressure to maintain control of these governments, their last remaining supporters.“

Huge credit is due to ICAN Australia’s Gem Romuld for her work behind the scenes on this project.

Full text of letter here

Article in New York Times here

The 56 co-signers of the open letter in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons are:

Lloyd Axworthy, former foreign minister of Canada

Ban Ki-moon, former UN secretary-general and foreign minister of South Korea

Jean-Jacques Blais, former defence minister of Canada

Kjell Magne Bondevik, former prime minister and foreign minister of Norway

Ylli Bufi, former prime minister of Albania

Jean Chrétien, former prime minister of Canada

Willy Claes, former NATO secretary-general and foreign minister of Belgium

Erik Derycke, former foreign minister of Belgium

Joschka Fischer, former foreign minister of Germany

Franco Frattini, former foreign minister of Italy

Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, former foreign minister of Iceland

Bjørn Tore Godal, former foreign minister and defence minister of Norway

Bill Graham, former foreign minister and defence minister of Canada

Hatoyama Yukio, former prime minister of Japan

Thorbjørn Jagland, former prime minister and foreign minister of Norway

Ljubica Jelušič, former defence minister of Slovenia

Tālavs Jundzis, former defence minister of Latvia

Jan Kavan, former foreign minister of the Czech Republic

Alojz Krapež, former defence minister of Slovenia

Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, former foreign minister and defence minister of Latvia

Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former president of Poland

Yves Leterme, former prime minister and foreign minister of Belgium

Enrico Letta, former prime minister of Italy

Eldbjørg Løwer, former defence minister of Norway

Mogens Lykketoft, former foreign minister of Denmark

John Mccallum, former defence minister of Canada

John Manley, former foreign minister of Canada

Rexhep Meidani, former president of Albania

Zdravko Mršić, former foreign minister of Croatia

Linda Mūrniece, former defence minister of Latvia

Fatos Nano, former prime minister of Albania

Holger K. Nielsen, former foreign minister of Denmark

Andrzej Olechowski, former foreign minister of Poland

Kjeld Olesen, former foreign minister and defence minister of Denmark

Ana Palacio, former foreign minister of Spain

Theodoros Pangalos, former foreign minister of Greece

Jan Pronk, former defence minister (ad interim) of the Netherlands

Vesna Pusić, former foreign minister of Croatia

Dariusz Rosati, former foreign minister of Poland

Rudolf Scharping, former defence minister of Germany

Juraj Schenk, former foreign minister of Slovakia

Nuno Severiano Teixeira, former defence minister of Portugal

Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, former prime minister of Iceland

Össur Skarphéðinsson, former foreign minister of Iceland

Javier Solana, former NATO secretary-general and foreign minister of Spain

Anne-Grete Strøm-Erichsen, former defence minister of Norway

Hanna Suchocka, former prime minister of Poland

Szekeres Imre, former defence minister of Hungary

Tanaka Makiko, former foreign minister of Japan

Tanaka Naoki, former defence minister of Japan

Danilo Türk, former president of Slovenia

Hikmet Sami Türk, former defence minister of Turkey

The late John N. Turner, former prime minister of Canada*

Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium

Knut Vollebæk, former foreign minister of Norway

Carlos Westendorp y Cabeza, former foreign minister of Spain

* ICAN would like to extend our condolences to the family of former Canadian prime minister John Turner, who passed away on 19 September 2020. 

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