HIROSHIMA 75 ANNIVERSARY – REMEMBER & ACT

The Treaty is set to enter into force soon,only seven of the many UN member states already working on ratification of the TPNW need to completethe task before it enters into force. It’s time to ensure that every town council and every parliamentarian and everyone who dreams of nuclear disarmament speaks out and insists that it is time the UKGovernment to get its head out of the sand and start thinking about the common good. In the week that marks the 75th anniversaries of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Around the world, people and parliaments are already responding to the hibakusha call to get rid of all nuclear weapons everywhere. Setsuko’s letter to Nicola and Nicola’s reply (see last week’s news) gave Scotland immeasurable reassurance that we are understood in our opposition to nuclear weapons and our determination to play a part in getting rid of them. This is an internationalist rather than a nationalist perspective and Setsuko’s letters to all heads of nuclear armed states are a very powerful tool in putting the humanitarian argument right at the heart of the UK nuclear weapons debate at this significant point in the upgrading and renewal programme. Ireland, always a key player in nuclear disarmament, in ratifying the treaty is a powerful example as we envisage a Scotland that can act responsibly instead of being the UK’s launchpad. As another three UN member states ratified the TPNW in a special cermony in New York with ICAN’s Setsuko Thurlow, a new generation of Scottish campaigners were speaking out at Hiroshima events across the country. They are taking the intersectional relationship between climate change, nuclear weapons and human rights and putting it clearly on the line.The TPNW is urgently needed, and on its way. Dan Haddow from UN House and Secure Scotland was at the Peace Tree in Glasgow

“It is thanks to my connection with Secure Scotland that I have the opportunity to speak with you today. Secure Scotland exists to re-examine the concept of security by asking what it is that makes people feel safe in their everyday lives. Our view is that categorically does not include nuclear weapons.

Hibakusha is a legal term in Japan that encompasses different categories of survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Those officially recognised as Hibakusha are entitled to financial and health support from the Japanese government in recognition of the devastatingly detrimental impact that exposure to either the initial blast of the atomic bombs or the ensuing radiation has had on their lives and livelihoods.

I have never personally met a Hibakusha, but I have had the opportunity to work alongside survivors of landmine accidents through my work with The HALO Trust. I will not insult the Hibakusha and landmine survivors through an effort to compare their vastly different experiences of conflict, however I do strongly feel that both the international campaign to ban landmines and the campaign to abolish nuclear weapons are right to put the testimony of survivors, especially innocent civilians, at front and centre of their campaigns.

This is because survivor testimonies, whether written, spoken, or inscribed upon their bodies are invaluable cultural artefacts. They function as cautionary tales to the rest of humanity through their depiction of the harrowing individual experiences of the human cost of conflict. They achieve this by generating deep feelings of sorrow, compassion and empathy with their audience and, simultaneously, by stirring up a powerful moral conviction that similar atrocities committed by man must never be allowed to happen again. Seen this way, I believe the testimonies of the Hibakusha form the hypocentre of the campaign to abolish nuclear weapons.

One Hibakusha testimony stood out to me in particular for its graphic depiction of the aftermath of the nuclear attack on Nagasaki. It is the testimony of Yoshiro Yamawaki. His story highlights the chaos, tragedy, fear and confusion caused by the nuclear bomb. Born in 1934, he was just 11 years old when a U.S. B-29 bomber dropped the fat man atomic bomb on his home city of Nagasaki on 9th August 1945. Mr Yamawaki explains how he and his twin brother were at home a few kilometres from the hypocentre and were lucky to survive the initial blast unscathed. After coming around, they crawled from their collapsed home and miraculously managed to reunite with their 14-year-old older brother. Together, the three brothers’ thoughts immediately turned to their father who had been working in a manufacturing plant much closer to the hypocentre. He did not return home on the day the bomb was dropped. The next day, they went out in search of him.

The idea of the boys walking across the apocalyptic scene of their devastated city while at the same time, on the other side of the world, Allied Commanders conveyed triumphant messages of military victory thanks to the technological marvel of ‘the bomb’ reminds me of a quote from war correspondent Marie Colvin. She says, ‘despite all the sanitised language describing smart bombs and pinpoint strikes, the scene on the ground has remained remarkably the same for hundreds of years. Craters. Burned houses. Mutilated bodies. Women weeping for children and husbands. Men for their wives, mothers children.’ To this forlorn list we can add children weeping for their parents as soon after embarking on their search, the young brothers’ worst fears came true when they discovered their father’s lifeless body amongst the wreckage of the factory he had been working. Following a suggestion from an adult rescue worker in the vicinity, the boys decided to cremate the body where it lay among the rubble. As the flames around the makeshift pyre grew so did their fear and confusion, so they fled and resolved to come back the following day to collect the ashes. When they returned they were horrified to find that the body had only partially burned, leaving a charred and corrupted corpse in place of the living, breathing man with whom they had shared breakfast together just two days prior on the morning of the attack. They were never able to give their father a proper burial.

Mr. Yamawaki says: ‘I think that all people who lost family members and others close to them went through similar experiences to this.’

I am really struck by this idea. It is hard to listen to Mr. Yamawaki’s story. But it’s even harder to comprehend that to truly grasp the scale of human loss and suffering caused by the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the emotive power of his testimony must be multiplied hundreds of thousands of times. This mind-expanding thought really brings home to me the appalling devastation caused by nuclear warfare, and the urgent need to continue strengthening the voice that speaks of the human cost of nuclear weapons.

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Scottish First Minister Confirms Rejection of Nuclear Weapons and Support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty

ICAN in Scotland1

Scottish First Minister Confirms Rejection of Nuclear Weapons and Support for the Nuclear Ban Treaty

The Scottish First Minister, in her reply to a letter from Setsuko Thurlow, who at the age of 13 survived the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima, has re-iterated her government’s opposition to nuclear weapons and its support for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Setsuko Thurlow, who received the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), wrote to all the leaders of all the nuclear weapon states, pleading with them to reconsider their opposition to the Treaty2. Exceptionally, she also wrote to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to thank her for Scotland’s opposition to nuclear weapons and in recognition of Scotland’s potential to play a key role in global disarmament as a significant and distinct part of a nuclear-weapon state which rejects its nuclear policy.3

In her reply4 Nicola Sturgeon said:

As you are aware, the Scottish Government is firmly opposed to the possession, threat and use of nuclear weapons and the thought that such weapons of indiscriminate and mass destruction could be launched from our shores is unacceptable to me and, I believe, the majority of people in Scotland. We need to do all that we can to create the conditions for a safer world without nuclear weapons. I was greatly encouraged that 122 countries voted for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and like you I have called on the UK Government to sign and ratify the Treaty.”

Janet Fenton, Vice-Chair of Scottish CND and ICAN liaison worker in Scotland said:

Scotland’s First Minister is leading a distinctive and safer response to the Covid-19 emergency and has challenged the impact for Scotland of a Brexit that was not supported by people here, so her consistent and unambiguous support for the sane alternative to the UK’s disastrous addiction to nuclear weapons is another source of pride and encouragement to us all. She has never hesitated in joining the majority world in the demand for their total eliminationa nd is respected and celebrated by the international community. We are appreciative of Setsuko’s awareness of Scotland’s uniquly unacceptable position, and proud of the FM’s response to her letter. The 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki takes place this week and that sobering reminder of horrific suffering offers us a special moment to take the necessary radical steps to end the UK’s nuclear occupation of Scotland.”

Contact: Janet Fenton 07795 594573

nuclearban.scot rise.icanw.org

1 Campaigners in Scottish CND, Trident Ploughshares, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, MEDACT, Northern Friends Peace Board, UN House Scotland, Scottish WILPF, Mayors for Peace and Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland working with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

2 82 UN states have now signed the Treaty and 40 have ratified it, so that it now requires only 10 further ratifications to enter in force as a legally binding instrument. And it is already having an effect. A number of large financial institutions across the globe are ceasing to invest in nuclear weapon production. The most recent example is the Japanese mega bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. which said that the decision had been taken in the light of “broad perceptions in the international community about the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons.”

3 In her letter Setsuko said: “I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your vocal support for this treaty and your continued opposition to the deployment of nuclear weapons in Scotland. . I have written to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to urge him to sign and ratify the prohibition treaty without delay. Even in this time of a global pandemic, the Tory government continues to prioritize nuclear weapons spending over support for human needs. I have no doubt that Scotland can play a pivotal role in dismantling these most murderous weapons and lead the world in the planet-saving work of nuclear abolition.”

4Letters from Setsuko to Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson, and the First Minister’s reply are at https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1WqOqCdgO8_J7wZ8ltnooIhVkVbec83GA?usp=sharing

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Hiroshima survivor writes to First Minister and a Wee Postcard to the UN

Today, 7th July, is the the third anniversary of the adoption by overwhelming vote at the United Nations of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The initiative to seek a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons was an outcome of the discourse centred on promoting greater awareness and understanding of the humanitarian consequences that would result from any use of nuclear weapons.

As the conference to negotiate the Treaty progressed Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, sent a message of hope and support to Ambassador Elaine Whyte Gomez of Costa Rica who chaired the conference. Her emissary was Bill Kidd MSP, Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Nuclear Disarmament Cross Party Group. Pointing out that nuclear weapons were an issue of existential concern to all of the peoples of the world, Nicola said: .

Scotland, as host to the base for the entirety of the nuclear arsenal of the United Kingdom, has a particular interest in the outcomes of the conference in working towards the achievement of effective legal measures to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.”

She quoted Sir Walter Scott in support of her “heartfelt wish” for a process that would rid the globe of nuclear warheads: ‘Dare to say and have the soul to believe’, reflecting the fact that in Scotland there is clear popular and parliamentary rejection of the UK’s weapons of mass destruction An independent Scotland can cause the disarming the whole UK due to the near impossibility of moving the submarine berths and atomic weapon store to any other location. There is widespread international recognition of Scotland’s unique potential to progress nuclear disarmament.

Regarding today’s anniversary, Bill added

I send my very best wishes to those celebrating the third anniversary of the TPNW. I remember this significant day three years ago. Let us continue moving forward in this daring manner, particularly as we approach ratification of the treaty in the coming months.”

Meanwhile the 75th anniverary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approaches. Setsuko Thurlow is a survivor of the attack on Hiroshima on 6th August 1945 and she has devoted her life to telling her story and calling attention to the horrific nature of nuclear weapons. In 2017 she was chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of ICAN, the international organisation that has worked to make the TPNW a reality. As the anniversary approaches, Setsuko has written to all the leaders of all the nuclear weapon states, pleading with them to reconsider their opposition to the Treaty., but she has also written to Nicola Sturgeon in recognition of Scotland’s strong support for disarmament.

Setsuko writes:

I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your vocal support for this treaty and your

continued opposition to the deployment of nuclear weapons in Scotland. I met many ScottishNational Party MPs in 2017 when I shared my testimony in Parliament in Westminster. Your colleagues revealed to me their earnest desires to remove the Trident submarines stationed at Faslane. I have written to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to urge him to sign and ratify the prohibition treaty without delay. Even in this time of a global pandemic, the Tory government continues to prioritize nuclear weapons spending over support for human needs. I have no doubt that Scotland can play a pivotal role in dismantling these most murderous weapons and lead the world in the planet-saving work of nuclear abolition.”

This resonates with opinon across Scottish civil society and political parties as we await the First Minister’s response to Setsuko’s letter, which is anticipated around the 6th August and the 75th anniversary.

From the Scottish Labour Party, MSP Neil Finlay said

“This anniversary reminds us that there are many in the world who share our vision of a planet free of nuclear weapons, a world of peace and justice where people live without the fear and where we can cooperate and thrive in a spirt of hope. At these very difficult times for humanity these ideals seem more appropriate than ever,”

and Elaine Smith MSP remembred her 2015 speech in the Scottish Parliament where she named nuclear weapons possession as:

Wrong, replacing them is wrong, and using them would be not only wrong, but reckless, despicable and immoral” and added that her present position on this is “even more clear as we see the devastating worldwide impact of having to use so many resources to fight a global pandemic.” 

Scottish Greens John Finnie MSP added:

“The continued existence of nuclear weapons shames the human race. As we approach the 75th anniversary of the atrocities at Hiroshima and Nagasaki the last use of nuclear arms against civilian targets fades further into history but these abominable weapons still cast a dark shadow over our planet today. Across the world silos and arsenals are still filled with bombs capable of dealing death and suffering on an unimaginable scale. The Scottish Greens believe in an independent Scotland, free of nuclear weapons, participating in the global community with a spirit of friendship not aggression. On the 3rd anniversary of the United Nations adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons I commend the efforts of the countless campaigners in Scotland and across the world who have helped bring about progress. There is much work to be done but the reality of a world free of nuclear weapons is closer now than it has been at any time since that dark day in 1945.”

A giant mock postcard has been prepared to symbolise Scottish the Scottish aspiration to play its part towards a world free of nuclear weapons. The postcard reads:

Dear UN, Please keep our seat warm – it won’t be long now! Our first stroke of the pen will be to sign the Nuke Ban Treaty! Yours aye, Scotland.

Meanwhile the TPNW is making good progress. 81 UN states have signed the Treaty and 39 have ratified it, so that it now requires only 11 further ratifications to enter in force as a legally binding instrument. And it is already having an effect. A number of large financial institutions across the globe have already sussed the way the wind is blowing and are ceasing to invest in nuclear weapon production. The most recent example is the Japanese mega bank Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. which said that the decision had been taken in the light of “broad perceptions in the international community about the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons.”

Civil Society organisations which are making ready for the 75th anniversary include Northern Friends Peace Board (Quakers) whose statement reads:

‘It is encouraging to see the progress that has been made with the signing and ratification by countries around the world to the Treaty. But we remember with deep sadness the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki nearly 75 years ago, the harm done to people in the continued development and production of nuclear weapons, and the resources committed to this wreckless and wasteful approach to security. Our current crisis highlights how vulnerable human societies are; to develop new nuclear weapons, with that knowledge, is as wrong now as it was to drop them on Japanese cities 75 years ago.’

and Dr Michael Orgel from MEDACT (Scotland) said:

The threat of a nuclear weapons existential crisis compares only to the threat from the climate emergency which these weapons excaerbate. A public health response is that prevention is the only possible way forward in dealing with either.”

Further info on action for the 75th anniversary in Scotland from Scottish CND banthebomb/org

For action and resources relating to the world wide commemorations see rise.icanw.org

Elaine Whyte Gomez will be speaking at a webinar in New Zealand to mark the thir anniversary, join at zoom link at 9 pm (Scottish time) today or catch up afterwards.

Zoom Link https://zoom.us/wc/join/82141008734

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Disarming Women From Paris

In February the YesHub in Edinburgh supported three folk to join the Paris Forum organised by ICAN France. Three (very different) women went to Paris thanks to the sponsorship.

Anna Karisto is currently pursuing a nuclear disarmament internship with Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre while completing the last year of my law degree at the University of Edinburgh. She became involved with ICAN in 2017, just before the second TPNW conference, when interning with a Finnish partner of the campaign. She describes the ICAN Paris Forum as a powerful experience;

“ I got to hear and learn about nuclear disarmament directly from activists and scholars who I have watched speaking through my laptop screen for years now and cited in my own research. ICAN places the experiences of individuals and communities impacted by nuclear weapons at the centre of the disarmament debate and how nuclear disarmament requires cooperation between generations..”

Dagmar Schwitzgebel integrates her art and her activism in every aspect of her life, working with a range of performance strategies as tools for resistance, to challenge expectations of political activism. As part of a Trident Ploughshares, she disrupts and draw attention to the ‘nuclear dump’ of Trident submarines at the Devonport docks. “The importance of infinite dignity was expressed, especially that of indigenous peoples that are poisoned and violated by uranium mining. Grassroots movements all highlighted the links to climate change, and aimed to educate. Art in activism makes issues accessible, we need to enact the change, be kind with each other and enable a room for dialogue.” The third of the women who shared the accommodation provided by the YESHUB was Anne McCullagh-Dlyske. Anne has come to campaigning later in a life that has nonetheless always had resistance to supporting the war machine at its core. As a piano teacher she was never to enjoy a full musical career, because she is also a War Tax Resister

“Developing a more peaceful, sustainable world includes divestment from supporting the defence and nuclear  industries, diversification into more positive  alternatives  and education for a better future. War –  the military, and particularly the US military, with the highest carbon footprint of any nation, are the worst offenders on the planet. “ She hopes is that an independent Scotland will create an option for those who refusal to pay taxes for the military to contrbute to a fund to work for non violent conflict resolution.

A great aspiration for Scotland you can hear more about soon. All three women intended speaking at Disarming Women From Paris! (sponsored by the HUB) but the event has been postponed meantime, but we hope that before long they will be sharing ideas about how Scotland can be rid of nuclear weapons and part of the global majority that does not want them here – or anywhere.

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US “usable” nukes and war game a wake-up call for the world

Almost every week seems to bring us closer to the edge of nuclear catastrophe, most recently the news that the US is deploying the weapons and doing the war games for “limited” nuclear war. There are however signs, albeit small, that this wild spear-waving is beginning to provoke some realism.

On 23rd January the Bulletin on the Atomic Scientists moved forward the hands of its symbolic clock which registers the status of existential threats to humanity and the planet, based on the risks of catastrophic climate change and of nuclear war. In its statement, the Bulletin said that any belief that the threat of nuclear war has been vanquished is a mirage and that civilisation-ending nuclear war – whether started by design, blunder, or simple miscommunication – is a genuine possibility. Their assessment was based on the Iranian and North Korean developments as well as on the almost total breakdown in arms control measures applying to the nuclear armed states.

The situation has just got even worse. On 29th January we learned that US Navy had deployed the new W76-2 “low-yield” warhead aboard the USS Tennessee. The W76-2 It has an explosive yield of five kilotons, a third of the power of the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The unhinged idea behind it is that it could be used militarily, unlike the bigger weapons in the arsenal whose use would lead inevitably to a civilisation-ending exchange. These bright planners are glossing over the fact that it is still a warhead of massive destructive power, capable of inflicting thousands of civilian deaths, horrific injuries, fatal radiation sickness and significant environmental damage. Further, these “tactical” missiles would not be launched singly but as a salvo. Also off the wall is the calculation that any enemy response to its use would be limited to the same level. Once the nuclear threshold is crossed we are on a steep slope to disaster.

On 17th January the US conducted a simulated war scenario in which they responded to a tactical nuclear attack from Russia with their own nuclear weapons. Far from being secretive or coy about it the Pentagon released the story at a press conference, with the clear aim of impressing everyone they felt needed to be impressed. Granted, this was a “table top” exercise invisible at the time to outsiders but the nuclear planners seem to have forgotten just how close to global nuclear war we were brought during the Cold War by exercises such as Able Archer. Were they also unaware of the study conducted by researchers at Princeton in September last year calculating the effects of such an exchange of “tactical” nuclear weapons? The researchers’ scenario depicted “a plausible escalating war between the United States and Russia using realistic nuclear force postures, targets and fatality estimates. It is estimated that there would be more than 90 million people dead and injured within the first few hours of the conflict.”

In the history of the major Cold War nuclear confrontations a touch of realism tended to appear at the most critical points. Kennedy and Kruschev, then Reagan and Gorbachev, backed off. The ramping up of nuclear tension comes two months before the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which, at least notionally, provides an opportunity to measure the stance and performance of the nuclear-armed states against their responsibilities as parties to the Treaty. On 25th February the Stockholm Initiative nations (Argentina, Canada, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland) laid out their hopes for the Review Conference. While their requests to the big 5 nuclear-armed states are modest, their call for a strong arms control framework and for restraint on the part of the US and Russia is a helpful move.

Yet something more radical is needed. Article V1 of the NPT Treaty states that : 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. No significant progress has been made by the nuclear-armed NPT signatories on this article since the NPT’s’s entry into force in 1968. So long as nuclear weapons exist we will keep coming back to these junctures of extreme peril and always in the background is the realistic threat of an accidental or computer generated initiation of a nightmare exchange. The only real answer is prohibition and elimination. Also at the Review Conference will be the 122 states that voted for the adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which provides the legal instrument that article V1 requires to do precisely that. We look forward to hearing their voices at the Conference. We are all downwind on this one.

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The US/UK Warhead Deal

In is important to note that the missiles on the UK nuclear weapon submarines are not British but are leased from the US. Indeed the UK does not have the facility to remove the missiles from its four Vanguard class boats– that needs to be done at King’s Bay in Georgia. The delivery and targeting software is US made. The Trident warheads – the actual nuclear bombs – have been manufactured and assembled at the Aldermaston/Burghfield complex in Berkshire but the design is American, although the evidence suggests that some design elements have depended on collaboration between US and UK nuclear weapon engineers. Not a sniff of “taking back control” on this one. The UK describes its Trident system as an “independent nuclear deterrent”. The description is false.

There is therefore nothing new or surprising about the announcement by the Pentagon of a UK/US deal to supply Britain with new warheads. What is less often remarked upon is the fact that this promised deal, and the history of the UK dependence on US warhead technology, amount to a blatant breach of Article 1 of the Nuclear-Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which states that “Each nuclear-weapons state (NWS) undertakes not to transfer, to any recipient (underline added), nuclear weapons, or other nuclear explosive devices, . .”. In nine weeks time diplomats from across the world will gather for the once-in-five-years NPT Review Conference. This Review takes place at a critical juncture for nuclear disarmament. The world is faced with the dismantling of key nuclear arms control frameworks, the ongoing modernisation of nuclear arsenals, and the indications that new states will seek to acquire their own nuclear weapons.

At the review these five nuclear-armed states will seek to represent themselves as the mature and responsible custodians of nuclear security. This is the opposite of the truth. Article V1 of the Treaty states that : 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.

In 2017, the majority world adopted the necessary treaty, its called the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, (TPNW) so why is it boycotted by the nuclear-armed states, and why has no significant progress has been made on Article V1 since the NPT’s’s entry into force in 1968? Currently we are going backwards.

The TPNW, a treaty “on general and complete disarmament” already exists and is tailor-made to slot into that gap in the NPT. The TPNW has been signed by 80 states and already ratified by 35. With 50 ratifications it will enter into force and put nuclear weapons in the same pariah category as chemical weapons and landmines. The nuclear-armed state in which you and I are currently stuck has two contradictory responses to the TPNW. On the one hand it sneers at it as a Utopian irrelevance and on the other it claims that it threatens the stability of the arms control and disarmament regime. Along with the other big 5 the UK will want no talk of the TPNW at the NPT conference. This is why we need Scottish parliamentarians to attend the Review Conference as civil society representatives, to make our support for the TPNW visible and articulate. If you want more evidence of the urgency of this check out the stance of the three candidates for the Labour leadership, who feel themselves compelled to parade their virility by parroting the mantras of delusion that bolster the UK’s sacred slaughter system. We can do so much better.

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Scottish campaigners head for Paris disarmament forum

ICAN
in Scotland1

Press Release: 13th February 2020 – for immediate use

A group of Scottish anti-nuclear campaigners are today travelling to Paris to take part in a major international disarmament forum called by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

14 Scots are expected to attend the forum at a critical time for global nuclear disarmament. The 5 – yearly review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty takes place in April/May and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is likely to gain 50 state ratifications and enter into legal force this year – all against the background of the increasing threat of nuclear confrontation.

Iona Soper, of Faslane Peace Camp said:

“I’m beyond pleased to be carrying a torch for Scottish CND and the Faslane Peace Camp at the ICAN Paris forum this week. It’s an important opportunity for a meeting of minds with our brothers and sisters from across the international anti-nuclear community, as well as a chance to hear and learn from some of the most prominent and inspiring figureheads of this vital and unifying campaign. The panel I’m most looking forward to is ‘Detoxting From Deterrence and Other Lies’ which aims to expose and counter the patrichical, military-industrial and colonialist frameworks that facilitate mankinds continued engagement with these terrible weapons.”

Also attending is Dr. Michael Orgel of Medact Scotland, an affiliate of both IPPNW (International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War) and ICAN. Michael said:

The Paris Forum will have special focus on education (especially of youth and students) about the existential crises of both climate change and nuclear weapons. It is now more important than ever to work together with international partners to get all countries to sign and ratify the U.N. Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons. “

Underlining the links between the climate emergency and the threat of nuclear war, Grace Quin, a computer games student from Edinburgh and a member of the Scottish Youth Climate Strike, will take part in a panel at the forum. Grace said:

Activism and encouraging people not to just accept everything they are told to believe is something that I have been passionate about since I can remember, so I was enthusiastic when I was offered an invitation to speak on a panel about standing up and trying to bringing change for the better. I’m looking forward engaging in topics that I am passionate about and to listen to other speakers.’

Contact: Iona Soper 07500 043226 Janet Fenton 07795 594573

nuclearban.scot icanw.org

1 Campaigners in Scottish CND, Trident Ploughshares, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, MEDACT, Northern Friends Peace Board, UN House Scotland, Scottish WILPF, Mayors for Peace and Don’t Bank on the Bomb Scotland working with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

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Brian Quail on “Usable” Nukes

Dear Sir,

“We only have it to prevent anybody ever using nuclear weapons on us. It will never actually be used. It’s just a deterrent”. This, the universal mantra of the apologist for Trident, is rehashed ad nauseam – in spite of the fact that the crews practice diligently to actually use the hellish thing. Facts tell a very different story.

The USS Tennessee, which left port in Georgia at the end of last year, is the first submarine to go on patrol armed with the W76-2 warhead, commissioned by Donald Trump two years ago. This has a yield of 5 kilotons, a third of the power of the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

This “low yield”(!) normalizes the W76-2, and makes it more usable. It is thus integrated into military war planning. Hans Kristensen, the director of the nuclear information project at FAS (Federation of American Scientists), said: “Certainly the low-yield collateral effect that would come from this weapon would be very beneficial to a military officer who was going to advise to the president whether we should cross the nuclear threshold.”

So there we have it from the horse’s mouth. While we rabbit on about a never-to-be-used “deterrent”, the US war machine is making plans to actually use nuclear weapons.

This is the inevitable resolution of an inherent contradiction at the very heart of the concept of nuclear deterrence. “Deterrence” is just a fancy Latinate word meaning threat. And a threat is useless, unless you are prepared to act it out. 

Meanwhile, in the real world far from the madding fantasies of American war planners, 122 states agreed on the TPNW (Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons) at the UN in 2017. Our job is to decide which side we are on.

Fortunately, we in Scotland do have a choice. All parties supporting independence take a principled stand against nuclear WMD. Our cousins south of the Tweed are not so fortunate.

We must be an example for them. We need to lead them, not leave them – to coin a phrase.

Yours sincerely,

Brian Quail, Glasgow

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SCND TPNW 24th January 2020

Emma
Cockburn, Gail Lythgoe, Janet Fenton, David French, David Mackenzie,
Flavia Tudoreanu, Lynn Jamieson (online) and Felix Mensah (online),
Lesley Taylor.

Apologies:
Ann Ballinger; Tony Fitzpatrick

Composition of the working group. There are other areas uncovered by representations. Gil Saunderson could be contacted re Fife. We will include Mike Arnott in the invitation, For Arran the contact will be John Page. Emma compile list of these contacts and the invitation to them will go along with these minutes (David).

Next Phase. We will be urging MSPs and to attend the NPT (April/May); Entry into Force will be acquiring momentum (we will reach out to Irish CND via Janet and the office); work on the Cities Appeal; outcomes and follow-up from Paris Forum.

Paris Forum: Attending will be Flavia, Emma, Gail, Alba, Gordon Dickson (plus 2 young Greens), Anne McCullagh-DLyske, a contact via Mike of the Edinburgh Yes Hub, an intern from the P&J Centre, Dagmar Schwitzgebel, an intern from UN House Scotland, Janet; Grace Quinn who is sponsored by ICAN. All attendees are asked focus on feedback and engagement with their own circle Images from the Forum will be important for sharing in Scotland (David to be alert). Attenders will be able to post directly to nuclearban.scot. Short videos would be good. On return attenders could continue the teamwork with joint presentations etc.

Following this discussion, we agreed it is important to let ICAN internationally know what we have been doing recently as well as reporting to them on after work from forum..

Cities Appeal. Lots of scope since both Greens and SNP as parties support the TPNW and councillors can be reminded of this. NFLA works at political level and includes divestment in the ask . We agreed to focus on the simple sign up to the Cities Appeal especially in Local Authorites not members of NFLA. Following discussion about whether to go for an immediate approach to all councils we agreed to go in the first instance for an extended target group: Aberdeen; Dundee; Inverness; Dumfries and Galloway; North Ayrshire; Stirling. We will work through the local CND or similar groups. Gail will draft a letter for the groups and a model letter to be sent to local councillors. Agreed to inform Sean at NFLA about what we are doing so as to avoid confusions (Janet or David?). There are complexities in Aberdeen which has left the NFLA and Aberdeen CND currently considering who best to work through on the council.

Parliamentary Pledge. David French will check up on status of signatures in the light of changes arising from the general election and also changes at Holyrood (such as Sarah Boyack) . The updated status should be posted on nuclearban.scot. and ICAN informed

Next Round Table 7th April from 2-4 in Glasgow hosted by SCND. Office to arrange room in Wellington Church.

Alignment campaign. We already have the basic trifold leaflet which will be adapted for the presentation (Lesley). Emma agreed to develop an online invitation using the leaflet content to enable individuals and groups to get on board. Emma will explore design plus costs and feasibility of a lapel pin to be awarded to signatories to the personal alignment programme – which should mainly be an online process – with proposals ready for next Exec meeting. Cost of the lapel pin could possibly be shared with ICAN UK.

We discussed ways of sharing ideas and text more generally. In the context of this discussion Gail offered to do a training on the use of Google Docs/Drive for cloud sharing. This would be for the Exec plus staff as a whole, not just this working group.

Googlegroup
Agreed for Janet to set up a Googlegroup for this working group.

Staff Time. Emma calculates this as ½ day’s work for the lapel pin work and other minor items. The time and commitment of staff needs to be outlined and agreed by Exec

Reporting to Exec. This will be done as per template being worked on (David to Discuss with Gordon on standard template for working groups).

Next Meeting: 21st February in the office at 2 p.m.

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Model MP/MSP Appeal

Skeleton letter for you to adjust and send to your elected representatives at Holyrood and Westminster. Use They Work for You website if you are not sure of the names. Please forward letter and replies to hello@nuclearban.scot

Dear MSP or MP (name)

I am writing to you as your constituent to ask you to attend the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) Review in New York this spring.

As a signatory to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) Parliamentary Pledge, you will be aware of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), welcomed by the majority of the UN member states. ICAN’s contribution to it earned the movement a Nobel Peace Prize. Scottish MPs and our MSP’s can be accredited to attend through ICAN and its partner organisations.

The NPT has had a limiting effect on nuclear weapons proliferation but the nuclear-armed states, including the UK, have never fulfilled their obligations to negotiate disarmament, and they have opposed the TPNW from the outset. The NPT is reviewed every five years, with preparatory conferences between, so this year’s Review will be the first since the TPNW, which provides the legal route to disarmament, was adopted.

ICAN will be in attendance at the NPT Review. It is planning a special side event to highlight how the TPNW could contribute to the NPT. Additionally, off-record meetings can be arranged with civil society organisations, nuclear weapons victims, scientists and academics. There will be a social event around the same time where informal exchanges can take place.

Scottish MPs and MSPs can meet with, for instance, the diplomats from Ireland and Austria who worked so hard for nuclear disarmament. Ambassadors and parliamentarians can talk informally together at the UN, regardless of constitutional arrangements.

Scotland should not be represented by diplomats who claim that the UK has a mandate to modernise its nuclear weapons system. This is an important opportunity for the world to understand that the UK does not have a mandate over the small country where their nuclear weapons are kept.1

Add any additional comments about previous correspondence you may have had and thank your elected representative for any good recent work.

Yours in peace

1More info at SCND and nuclearban.scot website

The 2020 Review Conference , Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will take place from 27 April 2020 to 22 May 2020 in New York, United States. The first two weeks are likely to be the best time for input from parliamentarians.

Article VI Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty:

Each party “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”.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted on 7 July 2017 by the United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination, held in New York from 27 to 31 March and 15 June to 7 July 2017.

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