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Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Abolitionists While US Conducts Nuclear War Games

Photo by MAPW Australia | CC by 2.0

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for its successful effort to establish a global treaty that bans nuclear weapons. Peace, disarmament, and civil society groups around the world celebrated the announcement and congratulated ICAN for its landmark treaty accomplishment.

In a statement, ICAN called the prize “a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.” By employing grassroots organizing and ordinary citizen diplomacy, ICAN, with 468 partner organizations from 100 countries, has permanently stigmatized nuclear weapons and their possessor governments, and helped to achieve their eventual elimination.

The new treaty was concluded on July 7 when 122 United Nations states voted in favor of its adoption. Since Sept. 20, 53 individual heads-of-state have signed the treaty, the first step in a government’s process of ratification which is decided by individual national parliaments. It will enter in force 90 days after at least 50 countries have ratified it.

The United States, the most powerful opponent of the Ban, called the treaty negotiations “unrealistic” and led a boycott, even though the talks are among the explicit mandates or binding “Articles” of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signed and ratified by the United States in 1970.

The Ban Treaty prohibits developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, stockpiling and deploying nuclear weapons, transferring or receiving them from others, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, allowing any stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons on national territories of signatories, and assisting, encouraging, or inducing any of these prohibited acts. The Treaty requires each signatory state to develop “legal, administrative and other measures, including the imposition of penal sanctions, to prevent and suppress” the prohibited activities.

US Fearmongering and Nuclear War Games Distract

Diverting attention from the Ban Treaty and the Nobel Committee’s abolitionist Peace Prize, the United States has for months been issuing wildly exaggerated warnings about threats posed by North Korea — which may have 20 nuclear warheads but no provably workable rockets for them — and Iran — which has no nuclear weapons at all.

At least the rest of the world is aware that US nuclear weapons are superfluous, conventional weapons being “deterrent” enough and sufficient for the Pentagon takeover of Afghanistan and Iraq. Nuclear weapons are worse than useless in today’s seven US “anti-terror” wars since they embody and teach, but never deter, terrorism. Case in point: Between October 16 – 20, the United States and four NATO partners conducted what they called their “Steadfast Noon” nuclear strike exercises. The annual war game is a NATO practice of nuclear weapons use with bombers and the B61 H-bombs the US deploys in Europe.

The Wall Street Journal reported Oct. 16 that one NATO official said the war game involves a “fictional scenario.” The Journal noted that the US keeps about 150 B61 nuclear weapons at six bases in five European countries. The US nuclear weapons practice took place at Kleine Brogel Air Base in Belgium and Büchel Air Base in Germany, both of which host about 20 of the US B61s. Belgian and German pilots train to use these H-bombs in the event of a Presidential order to go nuclear, i.e., insane.

Joseph Trevithick reported for TheDrive online, “The bombs are technically ‘tactical’ nuclear weapons, though experts and advocates routinely debate the validity of this term and whether any nuclear weapon can be seen as a limited, tactical tool.” The B61 is an unguided gravity bomb that has an explosive force of 340 kilotons (27 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb that killed 170,000 people). The nonfiction use of just a single B61 could kill more than 3.7 million people, the vast majority “protected” (civilians).

The Peace Prize increases the stigmatization of nuclear weapons, NATO’s preparations for using them, and the nuclear-armed states’ self-contradictory rationalizations for retaining their arsenals. All three need to be universally publicized and appreciated before a malfunction, miscalculation or “moron” (as Secretary of State called President Trump) kills millions.

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John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

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