FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Nuclear Insecurity

For many years the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has advocated the global elimination of nuclear weapons. This advocacy is consistent with the moral position adopted by nearly all major religions as well as with the dictates of international law. It is also consistent with the security interests of all states, including the current nuclear weapons states. Nonetheless, many Americans cling tenaciously to the idea that the US is more secure with nuclear weapons than it would be without them.

In response to an article that I wrote recently on “Global Hiroshima,” a letter to the editor took the position, “The proposal to eliminate nuclear weapons is idealistic, but it is naively unrealistic, unless a creditable concept for protecting the US from other nations’ nuclear weapons is available.” The writer concluded his letter by stating, “Our nuclear weapons are not to use, but to prevent other nations from using theirs.”

This is, unfortunately, a falsely reassuring and illusory viewpoint. Nuclear deterrence–the threat of nuclear retaliation–could fail for many reasons, including accidental launches, miscalculations, poor decisions in time of crisis, or the inability to credibly threaten extremist organizations that cannot be located and therefore retaliated against. A threat to retaliate against an opponent that you cannot locate, such as al Qaeda, is futile.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has never called for the US to unilaterally disarm its nuclear arsenal. What we do advocate is for the US to take a leadership role in negotiating nuclear disarmament among all nations. This is a role that only the US can assume, due to its enormous military and economic power.

By taking on this role, the US would be acting in accord with a unanimous 1996 ruling of the International Court of Justice, the world’s highest court, which concluded: “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.”

Our position at the Foundation is that the US should take this obligation under international law seriously, both because the US has a responsibility to follow the dictates of international law and because doing so will enhance our national security. This is not a prescription for immediate or unilateral nuclear disarmament. It is a prescription for demonstrating the political will to move judiciously but urgently toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

The first step in following this path would be for the US to convene the other nuclear weapons states and set forth a negotiating agenda. An important confidence building measure would be a legal commitment by all nuclear weapons states to No First Use of nuclear weapons. This would demonstrate that nuclear weapons had no other purpose than deterring another country from using theirs. Other confidence building steps would include the de-alerting of existing nuclear weapons and ratification by all nuclear capable states of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The goal of the negotiations would be the phased elimination of nuclear arsenals under strict and effective international controls. Countries would phase out their nuclear arsenals gradually and in a verifiable manner. Processes would be established to assure that nuclear weapons and materials were not being diverted into secret stores outside the purview of international inspectors.

The plan is simple. It begins with good faith negotiations convened by the US. It ends with a world free of nuclear weapons. In between, there is much to be worked out to assure the security of all states. One thing is certain, however: This is not a “naively unrealistic” plan. It is the only approach that will assure that cities, countries and civilization remain safe from nuclear devastation and that humankind is secure from future Hiroshimas and Nagasakis.

DAVID KRIEGER is the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and a leader in the global effort to abolish nuclear weapons.

 

 

More articles by:

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org). 

Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
REZA FIYOUZAT
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
Dave Lindorff
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail