The nations who gathered for the Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) have failed to agree an outcome statement, with Russia shamelessly wrecking any hope of a consensus with its objection to a reference to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Ray Acheson of Reaching Critical Will sets that in context in her excellent editorial on the collapse of the Conference:
“But Russia was not alone in derailing this Conference. Despite all the divergences among those playing at geopolitics, Russia was fully aligned with the other NPT nuclear-armed states in actively preventing any meaningful commitment to advance nuclear disarmament, stop nuclear threats, or reduce nuclear risks from being included in the outcome document.”
All of which leaves us in a grim situation. We are walking on the very edge of a global catastrophe where the risks of nuclear war are as great, or greater, than during the depths of the Cold War, due to the virtual collapse of arms control measures, the modernisation of weapon systems and the emergence of ever more unhinged leaders with access to doomsday arsenals. And there are the current threats and counter threats – Putin on the one hand and on the other the chilling words from the new NATO “Strategic Concept” – “The Alliance has the capability and resolve to impose costs on an adversary that would be unacceptable . .” And while a rigorous arms control regime can reduce the risk for a time it is obvious that we will keep returning to the edge unless we eliminate nuclear weapons altogether.
Yet the NPT fiasco does at least clarify matters. It is crystal clear where the adults are and that’s not in the ranks of the nuclear-armed states. It is rather among those realist voices, like Jacinda Ardern, Antonio Guterres and Pope Frances, and overwhelmingly within the 147 UN states (that’s 76% of the total BTW) who backed the Joint Humanitarian Statement submitted by Costa Rica to the Review Conference. The Statement underlines the catastrophic consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, an emphasis shunned by the nuclear-armed states because it shrivels to nothing any argument that can be made on behalf of the so-called “doctrine of deterrence”. The Statement also points out that the only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination. Both these elements are central to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons which is gaining credibility and support by the day. Every attempt by the nuclear-armed states to diss the TPNW tends to highlight its validity and its critical relevance to the crisis we face.
Here is Scotland we emphatically do not need to sit girning on the side-lines while the UK continues its blatant non-compliance with the NPT. ICAN in Scotland is now calling on the Scottish Government, our civil leaders and our kenspeckle figures in the arts and literary world to claim on behalf of us all that we are Nation 148 in backing the Costa Rica Statement as an expression of our commitment to free Scotland and the world from the menace of nuclear weapons.