Analysis

Published on April 11th, 2014 | by Susi Snyder

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2014 NPDI Ministerial begins

The Non Proliferation Disarmament Initiative, a group of 12 countries seeking the implementation of the 2010 NPT Action Plan, are starting to gather now in Hiroshima. This afternoon, two events took place for NPDI members. The second of these was a closed meeting, a general exchange of views, between the Foreign Ministers of Australia, Japan and the Netherlands, a survivor of the bombing of Hiroshima, some students and NGOs.

Akira Kawasaki spoke on behalf of Peace Boat and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in the second session. He explained how ICAN is a growing, vibrant, enthusiastic campaign coalition, with more than 300 partners in over 90 countries. He took the opportunity of this meeting with the ministers to remind all present that it is reasonable, feasible, and practical to start negotiations on a treaty to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons now.

A little earlier in the afternoon, a public seminar was organised by the City and Prefecture of Hiroshima. Attended by several hundred members of the public, as well as ministry officials from several NPDI member states, the seminar heard from eight speakers, including the incoming chair of the NPT Prepcom, Ambassador Roman-Morey (Peru), the Mayor of Hiroshima, the governor of Hiroshima Prefecture, and more. I also spoke on the panel, and my full remarks are below.

Hopefully these exchanges will have an impact on the NPDI ministerial statement- expected on the 12th. More will follow once the Foreign Minister’s statement is released. Stay tuned!

NPDI Symposium

11 April 2014

Susi Snyder, PAX

Prepared remarks

Thank you for the warm welcome and the invitation to join this important symposium. This is an interesting occasion, and I’m pleased to see that the relationship between civil society and the governments in the Non Proliferation Disarmament Initiative has opened up to include these events. I hope that this will continue, and expand for future meetings of the NPDI.

The reason for my travel to beautiful city of Hiroshima is because the foreign ministers of twelve countries were invited by the Japanese government to meet tomorrow, 12 April,. The NPDI states: Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates will talk about their cooperative efforts to achieve the implementation of the 2010 Action Plan on disarmament and non-proliferation agreed during the last Review Conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The 2010 Action Plan is a useful document, but simply agreeing on an action plan does not outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons. Especially when that Action Plan is not being implemented.

The 2014 Prepcom, taking place at the end of this month, is a milestone moment for the 2010 Action Plan, as the agreed document calls upon the nuclear armed states to report on their progress in implementing Action 5 at this meeting.

Action 5 was one of the useful outcomes from the 2010 Review Conference. It included a call on the nuclear armed States to commit to accelerate concrete progress on their previously agreed steps leading to nuclear disarmament. It even laid out an approach to do this, including overall reduction in the global nuclear weapons stockpile; addressing the question of all types of nuclear weapons; diminish the role and significance of nuclear weapons in all military and security concepts, doctrines and policies; Reducing the risk of accidental use of nuclear weapons; and Further enhancing transparency and increasing mutual confidence.

Yet, the nuclear armed States have made very little progress. The nuclear arsenals of four of the five Nuclear Weapons States have gone to lower numbers, but China is reported to be increasing its arsenal size. It is good that the numbers are going down, (though not “rapidly” as called for in the Action Plan), but it is important to remember that most of these reductions are not actually reducing the numbers of operational warheads. Instead, they are dismantling stockpiles. Still, that is a positive action.

However, I would hold the applause. Because at the same time there are commitments on the part of all Nuclear Weapons States to modernise their arsenals. They are investing billions of dollars in making qualitative improvements. This is also called vertical proliferation. Building nuclear weapons that are better at causing catastrophic humanitarian harm is not helpful. It is hoped that the NPDI members will take note of this, and demand the Nuclear Weapons States to stop their modernisation programmes.

As the NPDI members have made the issue of reporting on the Action Plan one of their significant themes, it will be interesting to see how they assess the reports that the Nuclear Weapons States will be making at the NPT Prepcom later this month. It will also be quite interesting to see how the nuclear armed countries report on their modernisation plans or if they simply forget to include that information.

Humanitarian Consequences

NPDI Members agreed, at their April 2013 meeting that they “remain deeply concerned by the risk for humanity represented by the possibility that nuclear weapons could be used and the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from their use.” This was an important statement, and one that we should welcome. However, the discussion is bigger than that. The debate should also consider the risks of use, and the threat to humanity that exists by the continued possession of the weapons themselves. As the NPDI has already agreed, the only way to prevent the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is to eliminate the weapons completely. Hopefully this meeting will reaffirm that the use of nuclear weapons, under any circumstances, would cause catastrophic humanitarian harm.

In February of this year, 148 governments registered to attend a conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, hosted by the Mexican government. The Nayarit conference reaffirmed that action such as the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty as a core element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and the achievement of a comprehensive outcome in the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, together with the discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, are mutually reinforcing processes. This is well in line with stated NPDI priorities, and the NPDI should welcome the Nayarit Chair’s Statement.

NPDI has already taken note of the UN Secretary General’s Five – Point plan for nuclear disarmament, including the possibility of a nuclear weapons convention or framework of agreements, providing additional support to this important step would strengthen existing efforts. NPDI members should incorporate a reference to a treaty banning nuclear weapons and leading to their elimination as a way to fulfil existing disarmament obligations. As the Nayarit summary concluded, “The broad-based and comprehensive discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons should lead to the commitment of States and civil society to reach new international standards and norms, through a legally binding instrument… It is time to take action..”

It IS time to take action. The government of Japan indicated that the humanitarian consequences discussion would be a main issue at the meeting tomorrow, and hopefully, the NPDI members will agree that they have a role to play in achieving a nuclear weapons free world, and announce their commitment to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons. The time has come to start negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons as the next logical step towards a nuclear weapons free world.

Reducing the Role of Nuclear Weapons & Nuclear Disarmament

The NPDI has made it clear that one of their priorities is to “focus on efforts to further reduce the number of nuclear weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons, and to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in security strategies, concepts, doctrines and polices.” It is unclear how the NPDI intends to promote this and whether or not NPDI members will utilize their unique opportunity to contribute to this reduction through their national and alliance activities.

Seven of the twelve NPDI members currently rely on nuclear weapons in their national security strategies. These countries should demonstrate leadership by fulfilling their 2010 NPT Action Plan commitment to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in security strategies. They could take this kind of positive step by issuing national declarations that their security arrangements do not include a nuclear retaliation option, and publicly recognise that retaliation with nuclear weapons would cause immediate casualties in the thousands (or millions) it also has the potential to cause environmental destruction leading to global famine. The NPDI members must clearly state that it is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances.

The NPDI statements have repeatedly called for inclusion of non-strategic (or tactical) nuclear weapons in next rounds of disarmament negotiations. The five NATO States of the NPDI have a key role to play in that respect. NATO’s continued stationing of nuclear weapons in non-nuclear weapons States, as well as the training of their military to use these weapons is one of the main obstacles keeping the U.S. and Russia from dealing with the issue of non-strategic nuclear weapons. For the three NPDI states hosting non-strategic weapons on their territories, their credibility is at stake, as a majority of countries regards them as violating the spirit, if not the letter, of NPT Articles 1 and 2 which prohibit any transfer of nuclear weapons to Non-Nuclear Weapon States. Given this special responsibility of a large section of the NPDI, it is imperative that the NPDI as a group further develops its statements on the necessity to reduce, relocate and dismantle current non-strategic nuclear weapons stockpiles.

Nuclear Security

All NPDI members participated in the recent Nuclear Security Summit, held in the Netherlands. Three NPDI members- Chile, Mexico and the Philippines – joined the Brazilian gift basked. The Dutch summary of the gift basket says: “On behalf of a group of countries, Brazil has taken the initiative to press during the NSS for a ‘broader approach’ to security, and specifically nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The authors of this GB seek a complete ban on nuclear weapons. The GB also refers to the need for military nuclear material to be properly secured.” It is important when considering nuclear security matters that the issue of nuclear disarmament not be left behind. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans recognised this as well at a working lunch with the NSS delegations, when he said ‘Preventing nuclear terrorism is the central issue on the agenda of this Nuclear Security Summit. But it’s an issue that can’t be viewed in isolation from nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,’

It is necessary to keep the disarmament and non-proliferation focus in mind when dealing with broader questions of nuclear security, as it is necessary to prevent the spread of the materials to make nuclear weapons. Here in Japan, there should be an extra effort on this, especially as Japan is one of the only countries in the world that produces plutonium for nuclear fuel. The Rokkasho plant is a problem- both for the health and safety of citizens in this country, but also because it is a proliferation risk and could lead to the spread of materials for new nuclear weapons. Japan, unlike many of the other participants at the NSS, did not pledge to convert plutonium processing capabilities, instead it agreed to firmly maintain the policy to possess no plutonium reserves without specified purposes. There is no need for Japan to maintain a capacity for the production of plutonium, and I sincerely hope that this policy will be changed to recognise this before the next NSS.

Looking Ahead

It is an unusual time for the NPDI overall. Now is the moment that the group may be thinking about what next, after the 2015 Review Conference. It is an opportune moment to do so.

One option, is for the NPDI states to move closer to the middle ground. That middle ground has changed, and significantly. This was seen clearly during the Nayarit Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. During the final plenary session, the General Exchange of Views, over 70 States took the floor. Of those, only five or so raised concerns with any new approaches to address the longstanding deadlock on multilateral nuclear disarmament. The overwhelming majority called for action, and a significant percentage called for negotiations on a new legal instrument. The average response, mathematically, is to call for the start of negotiations on a new legal instrument.

This goes to the very heart of the NPT- a treaty that is predicated on the assumption that these are bad weapons, and no one should possess them. The humanitarian narrative aligns fully with the goals and objectives of the NPT. In fact, the humanitarian imperative to prevent “the devastation that would be visited upon all mankind by a nuclear war” is the overarching treaty chapeau.

In light of evidence demonstrating the catastrophic humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and the risk of their use by accident, miscalculation or design, the lack of progress in the implementation of Article VI of the NPT, as well as in other deadlocked disarmament forums, is unacceptable. The only logical response to the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons is to start a process of negotiation for a legal prohibition on these weapons, even if the nuclear-armed States refuse to participate at the outset. Such an instrument would fulfil and strengthen the NPT and create conditions for disarmament by establishing a clear norm against possession of nuclear weapons; challenge the assertion that nuclear weapons provide security; provide a strong moral incentive for nuclear possessor States to eliminate their arsenals; reinforce non-proliferation; and increase the likelihood for a successful outcome of the 2015 Review Conference. This should be something the NPDI states take on board and advocate for.

The time has come for all States to decide, once and for all, if they think nuclear weapons are good or bad. If they are good weapons, then all of the efforts to stop proliferation don’t matter. If they are bad weapons then there is not better time than now to outlaw them once and for all.

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About the Author

Susi is the project lead for the PAX No Nukes project, she also coordinates the Don’t Bank on the Bomb research and campaign. Read more about Susi here.



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