World­wide move­ment to abol­ish nu­clear weapons

The Progress-Index Weekend - - OPINION - Dr. Robert Dodge Na­tional Physi­cians for So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity Ven­tura, California via peacevoice.info

This week marks 73 years since the U.S. atomic bomb­ings of Hiroshima and Na­gasaki on Au­gust 6th and 9th, 1945, ul­ti­mately re­sult­ing in the deaths of more than 200,000 peo­ple. With the dawn of the nu­clear age, the term “hi­bakusha” for­mally en­tered our lex­i­con.

Atomic bomb sur­vivors are re­ferred to in Ja­pa­nese as hi­bakusha, which trans­lates lit­er­ally as “bomb-af­fected-peo­ple.” The bomb­ings and af­ter­math changed the world for­ever and threaten the very fu­ture of mankind to this day.

Hi­bakusha have pro­vided a liv­ing legacy to the horrors and threat of nu­clear war. The threat con­tin­ues to this day, fu­eled by a new nu­clear arms race ini­ti­ated by the U.S. pro­posal to spend up­wards of $1.7 tril­lion over the next 30 years to re­build our en­tire nu­clear arse­nal. Every other nu­clear na­tion is fol­low­ing suit in mod­ern­iz­ing their ar­se­nals as well, giv­ing rise to the myth of nu­clear de­ter­rence that has driven the arms race since its in­cep­tion.

This re­newed arms race threat­ens us and every­thing we care about every mo­ment of every day. As ten­sions have grown be­tween the nu­clear su­per­pow­ers, the threat of nu­clear war by in­tent or mis­cal­cu­la­tion or in­creas­ingly by cy­ber­at­tack threat­ens us and every­thing we care about.

This is not a re­al­ity that has to be. Rec­og­niz­ing the cat­a­strophic hu­man­i­tar­ian con­se­quences from any use of nu­clear weapons, civil so­ci­ety and NGOs around the world, work­ing with hi­bakusha, ini­ti­ated an in­ter­na­tional ef­fort over the past decade to abol­ish nu­clear weapons. The In­ter­na­tional Cam­paign to Abol­ish Nu­clear Weapons (ICAN), re­cip­i­ent of the 2017 No­bel Peace Prize, led this in­ter­na­tional ef­fort.

On July 7, 2017, the Treaty on the Pro­hi­bi­tion of Nu­clear Weapons was adopted by 122 na­tions, rep­re­sent­ing a ma­jor­ity of the world’s peo­ple at the United Na­tions. Opened for sig­na­ture on Sept. 20, 2017, the In­ter­na­tional Day of Peace, the treaty makes nu­clear weapons il­le­gal un­der in­ter­na­tional law just as all other weapons of mass de­struc­tion have been de­clared. Once 50 na­tions have rat­i­fied the treaty it goes into ef­fect 90 days later. Thus far there have been 15 na­tions that have rat­i­fied the treaty, with New Zealand sign­ing this past week (sign­ing is step one, rat­i­fy­ing is the fi­nal step).

Un­der Ar­ti­cle 1 of the treaty, na­tions are pro­hib­ited from de­vel­op­ing, test­ing, pro­duc­ing, man­u­fac­tur­ing, ac­quir­ing, pos­sess­ing, stock­pil­ing, trans­fer­ring, de­ploy­ing, sta­tion­ing, us­ing or threat­en­ing to use nu­clear weapons, un­der any cir­cum­stances.

The nine na­tions that pos­sess nu­clear weapons have of­fi­cially boy­cotted the ef­forts to abol­ish these weapons. How­ever, there are sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts by the peo­ple in these coun­tries to move their gov­ern­ments to come in line with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity work­ing to elim­i­nate nu­clear weapons. Most of these coun­tries are legally bound to do so with their 48-year obli­ga­tion un­der the Nu­clear Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Treaty, com­mit­ting them to “work in good faith to elim­i­nate nu­clear weapons.”

In the U.S., there is a rapidly grow­ing move­ment called “Back from the Brink” that is gain­ing mo­men­tum as in­di­vid­u­als, or­ga­ni­za­tions, cities and com­mu­ni­ties across the na­tion are en­dors­ing a res­o­lu­tion that al­lows them to take ac­tion now.

This res­o­lu­tion, em­a­nat­ing from the ef­forts of many dif­fer­ent or­ga­ni­za­tions, can be en­dorsed by all. It calls on the U.S. to lead a global ef­fort to pre­vent nu­clear war by re­nounc­ing the op­tion of us­ing nu­clear weapons first; end­ing the sole, unchecked au­thor­ity of any U.S. pres­i­dent to launch a nu­clear at­tack; tak­ing U.S. nu­clear weapons off hair-trig­ger alert; can­cel­ing the plan to re­place its en­tire nu­clear arse­nal with en­hanced weapons; and ac­tively pur­su­ing a ver­i­fi­able agree­ment among nu­clear-armed states to elim­i­nate their nu­clear ar­se­nals.

This week, solemn memo­ri­als around the world com­mem­o­rat­ing the nu­clear at­tacks of 1945 were at­tended by a de­creas­ing num­ber of the hi­bakusha bomb sur­vivors. These in­di­vid­u­als have never lost hope — hope demon­strated from their courage, com­pas­sion, con­vic­tion and wit­ness that no one will ever suf­fer or con­front the hor­ror they ex­pe­ri­enced. We owe it to them and to all fu­ture gen­er­a­tions to do every­thing in our power to elim­i­nate this im­moral and now il­le­gal man­made threat to hu­man­ity. The time is now to add your voice to the grow­ing cho­rus call­ing for the com­plete abo­li­tion of nu­clear weapons.

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