International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Monday, October 3, 2016

Considering what a nuclear war would represent, global nuclear disarmament is a central issue in the defense of peace, for the survival of the human species and the maintenance of life on Earth as we know it today.

The presence of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of some countries is a threat upon each one of us, upon peoples, upon all living beings on the planet. Such a threat never existed until the advent of the military use of nuclear energy.

After the Holocaust of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in 1945, when for the first and only time the USA launched two atomic bombs upon the populations of two Japanese cities, causing hundreds of thousands of dead and effects that last to this day. There were great developments in nuclear weaponry. And of the many thousands of nuclear warheads stored in military installations, a significant part of which is ready to be used, only 1% would be enough to release energy equivalent to 4000 Hiroshima bombs and destroy human civilization.

With the multiplication of wars of aggression, there are reasons to thing that the terrible threat of a nuclear conflagration, far from having disappeared, is today more serious than ever. Thus the importance of the initiative of the General Assembly of the United Nations that, in 2013, designated September 26th as International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This day and this date should serve to promote and deepen the conscience of citizens and peoples, all over the world, of the need to completely dismantle the existing nuclear arsenals.

Since the Stockholm Appeal, promoted by the World Peace Council in 1950, that the lovers of peace have committed to the struggle for the end of nuclear weapons.

Pressured by the position of numerous progressive countries, the peace movement and a public opinion increasingly enlightened over the years, the main nuclear powers negotiated several agreements that limited the number and quality of nuclear weapons and their transport vectors and laid down the objective of their total dismantlement. That is the case of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), certainly the most important of these agreements. The treaty entered into force in 1990. In 1995, the signatory countries (190 at the time) agreed to its extension without a defined time limit. The NPT is grounded upon three equally important and complementary pillars: non-proliferation; the commitment to dismantle existing nuclear arsenals and negotiate a general and complete disarmament treaty, guaranteed by a strict and effective international control; and – the third pillar – the recognition of the right of all countries to use nuclear energy for peaceful ends.

At the present, the US, the Russian Federation, France, the United Kingdom and China possess nuclear weapons. Other countries assume they have nuclear weapons are as pointed as having nuclear weapons, like India, Pakistan, Israel or the Democratic Popular Republic of Korea.

None of these commitments has been respected to this day. There was a substantial reduction in the number of nuclear warheads, namely by the two main nuclear military powers. But at the same time the actively pursued, a process accelerated today, the development and fabrication of more technologically developed and for effective military nuclear devices, as was the case of the US and is the intention of the UK. The position of the member countries of NATO that posses nuclear weapons has clearly been a duplicitous position throughout the years regarding the implementation of the dispositions of the NPT in any of its three pillars. Recall the doctrine of first nuclear strike adopted by the US, including against countries that do no possess nuclear weapons, or the recent declarations of the British Prime-minister who, defending the renewal of the (nuclear) Trident missiles, with a calculated cost of 40 billion pounds, admitted the use of nuclear weapon against another country causing 100 thousand dead among its population.

We witness a worsening of international tensions, in the Middle-East, in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia, in Africa, and other regions of the globe, a renewed arms race, nuclear and non-nuclear – such as the installation of the US(NATO anti-missile system in Europe and the Far East – and the development of new forms of war in the domains of cybernetics and robotics. This evolution entails reinforced threats of several orders, technical and psychological, that foster involuntary acts of aggression simply due to faults in system function or human error. The probability of an accidental nuclear catastrophe is today greater that ten years ago.

Achieving total elimination of nuclear weapons is imperative, as an irreplaceable step towards building a just and lasting Peace.

The only guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is by destroying them. On the other hand, the end of the arms race and nuclear disarmament will release financial funds to invest in social justice and progress, indispensable to reach peace.

Nuclear horror, never again!

Thus the appeal of the Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation to all lovers of peace to reinforce the demand for global nuclear disarmament and an end to the arms race.