10 Reaons to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

by DAVID KRIEGER

1. Fulfill Existing Obligations. The nuclear weapons states have made solemn promises to the international community to negotiate in good faith to achieve nuclear disarmament. The United States, Russia, Britain, France and China accepted this obligation when they signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and extended their promises at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and again at the 2000 NPT Review Conference. India and Pakistan, which are not signatories of the NPT, have committed themselves to abolish their nuclear arsenals if the other nuclear weapons states agree to do so. The only nuclear weapons state that has not made this promise is Israel, and surely it could be convinced to do so if the other nuclear weapons states agreed to the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. The International Court of Justice, the world’s highest court, unanimously highlighted the obligation to nuclear disarmament in its 1996 Opinion: "There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control." This means an obligation to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenals to zero.

2. Stop Nuclear Weapons Proliferation. The failure of nuclear weapons states to act to eliminate their nuclear arsenals will likely result in the proliferation of nuclear weapons to other nations. If nuclear weapons states continue to maintain the position that nuclear weapons preserve their security, it is only reasonable that other nations with less powerful military forces, such as North Korea, will decide that their security should also be maintained by nuclear arsenals. Without substantial progress toward nuclear disarmament, the Non-Proliferation Treaty will be in jeopardy when the parties to the treaty meet for the NPT Review Conference in the year 2005.

3. Prevent Nuclear Terrorism. The very existence of nuclear weapons and their production endanger our safety because they are susceptible to terrorist exploitation. Nuclear weapons and production sites all over the world are vulnerable to terrorist attack or to theft of weapons or weapons-grade materials. Russia, due to the breakup of the former Soviet Union, has a weakened command and control system, making their substantial arsenal especially vulnerable to terrorists. In addition, nuclear weapons are not helpful in defending against or responding to terrorism because nuclear weapons cannot target a group that is unlocatable.

4. Avoid Nuclear Accidents. The risk of accidental war through miscommunication, miscalculation or malfunction is especially dangerous given the thousands of nuclear warheads deployed and on high alert status. Given the short time periods available in which to make decisions about whether or not a state is under nuclear attack, and whether to launch a retaliatory response, the risk of miscalculation is high. In addition, the breakup of the former Soviet Union has weakened Russia’s early warning system, since many parts of this system were located outside of Russia, and this increases the likelihood of a nuclear accident.

5. Cease the Immorality of Threatening Mass Murder. It is highly immoral to base the security of a nation on the threat to destroy cities and potentially murder millions of people. This immoral policy is named nuclear deterrence, and it is relied upon by all nuclear weapons states. Nuclear deterrence is a dangerous policy. Its implementation places humanity and most forms of life in jeopardy of annihilation.

6. Reverse the Concentration of Power. Nuclear weapons undermine democracy by giving a few individuals the power to destroy the world as we know it. No one should have this much power. If these individuals make a mistake or misjudgment, everyone in the world will pay for it.

7. Promote Democratic Openness. Decisions about nuclear weapons have been made largely in secrecy with little involvement from the public. In the United States, for example, nuclear weapons policy is set forth in highly classified documents, which are not made available to the public and come to public attention only by leaks. On this most important of all issues facing humanity, there is no informed consent of the people.

8. Halt the Drain on Resources. Nuclear weapons have drained resources, including scientific resources, from other more productive uses. A 1998 study by the Brookings Institution found that the United States alone had spent more than $5.5 trillion on nuclear weapons programs between 1940 and 1996. The United States continues to spend some $25-$35 billion annually on research, development and maintenance of its nuclear arsenal. All of these misspent resources represent lost opportunities for improving the health, education and welfare of the people of the world.

9. Heed Warnings by Distinguished Leaders. Distinguished leaders throughout the world, including generals, admirals, heads of state and government, scientists and Nobel Peace Laureates, have warned of the dangers inherent in relying upon nuclear weapons for security. These warnings have gone unheeded by the leaders of nuclear weapons states.

10. Meet Our Responsibility. We each have a responsibility to our children, grandchildren and future generations to end the threat that nuclear weapons pose to humanity and all life. This is a responsibility unique in human history. If we do not accept responsibility to speak out and act for a world free of nuclear weapons, who will?

DAVID KRIEGER is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the editor of Hope in a Dark Time (Capra Press, 2003), and author of Choose Hope, Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age (Middleway Press, 2002). He can be contacted at dkrieger@napf.org.


Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?