Burn the NPT?

 Wildfire>_ the rumour generating and whispering stimulant to what are otherwise sometimes dull discussions in the disarmament diplomatic corridors, has made his NPT debut. During the past week, there have been a number of clever posters and flyers circulating the conference. These have included wanted posters- calling for a backbone, and clever plays on weasels (and words about weasels). Wildfire>_ tried to go public in Geneva recently, but was shut out through some technical issues. Today, during the event “Burn the NPT”, he gave a face to the fame. Despite the name of the event, it featured no physical pyrotechnics, only the metaphorical and figurative type.

In one of the more engaging beginnings to a side event I’ve attended this week, Wildfire>_ asked people in the room to write a word or two that first comes to mind when they think about the NPT. Responses around the room included elaborate delaying tactic and asymmetrical contract. Not a single person said disarmament. Wildfire>_ went on, if you’re looking for disarmament, you’re not going to get it at the NPT.

Wildfire>_ went on to talk about some of the criticisms towards a ban treaty. For example, the idea of engaging and not enraging. Why worry about enraging the nuclear armed states? Are they going to stop the negotiations they are obliged to but aren’t doing anyway? The ones that should be enraged are the non-nuclear weapons states. Wildfire>_ asked “where is the outrage?” How is it that some representatives have said that just because it doesn’t work, doesn’t mean we should try something new. It is not enough to just be right, what are we going to do about it?

A ban treaty doesn’t cost anything. It is something that you can’t be reproached for. What possible complaint can be laid against a NNWS that wants to ban nuclear weapons. It is completely in line with the NPT, in line with Article 6, can only strengthen non-proliferation and nuclear security. The recognised nuclear armed countries can’t object to this publicly- it makes them look insincere, and duplicitous.

How can it be inflammatory to ask for what is already promised? Likening the reliance on nuclear weapons to addiction, with addicts there is often nothing you can do, except take steps to protect yourself. For your own dignity and self worth, sense of purpose and pride, you have to stop pouring money into the problem. States are suffering and have to take the steps to deal with that. It is more than metaphor. It is time to quit the problem and negotiate a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

This article has appeared in the News In Review as an NPT side event report.