By Daryl G. Kimball
Today in Hiroshima, the 11th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates concluded with the reading of "The Hiroshima Declaration on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons" by 1997 Nobel prize recipient Jody Williams. The declaration notes that since the end of the Cold War, enormous progress toward the goal of a world without nuclear weapons has been achieved but " ... there are still enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on Earth many times over. The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the possibility of their use for acts of terrorism are additional causes for deep concern. The threats posed by nuclear weapons did not disappear with the ending of the Cold War."
The declaration expressed support for the "UN Secretary General's five point proposal on nuclear disarmament and proposals by others to undertake work on a universal treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons ... and to provide for their complete and verified elimination," and specifically called for practical steps toward that end, including: ".. the ratification without delay of the New START agreement by the United States and Russia and for follow-on negotiations for deeper cuts in all types of nuclear weapons;" and action by "China, the United States, Egypt, Iran, Israel and Indonesia to ratify, and on India, Pakistan and North Korea to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ... so that the Treaty can be brought into full legal force."
The declaration was drafted and endorsed by several of the living Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and representatives from organizations that have won the prize including:
Due to the consultation processes involved with UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, it was not signed by all present, but will be open for additional signatures.
Meanwhile, 2009 Nobel Peace Prize recipient President Barack Obama was in Yokohama for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting assured Russian President Dimitri Medvedev that getting the Senate to ratify the new START treaty this year is a "top priority" of his administration.
New START, along with U.S. reconsideration and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, are among the several practical steps toward reducing the dangers of nuclear weapons that Obama pledged to pursue in his stirring April 2009 speech in Prague.
The Senate will reconvene tomorrow for a post-election "lame duck" session that will go into December. If Senate leaders agree to spare 2-3 days for floor debate and a vote on the treaty, it would very likely win well over the 67 votes that are needed for ratification.
The trick is to convince Senate Republican leaders to follow the advice of the U.S. military establishment and the overwhelming majority of former national security leaders--Republicans and Democrats--and allow a vote on New START. Standing in the way is Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.), who has threatened to block New START unless there is still more money flowing to the already well-funded U.S. nuclear weapons production infrastructure.
On Friday it was reported that administration officials briefed Kyl on a plan that would add $4.1 billion in funding for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex between 2012-2016 for programs to refurbish warheads and upgrade manufacturing and experimental facilities that are part of the National Nuclear Security Administration weapon complex. This would be in addition to the $80 billion, ten-year plan outlined earlier this year by the administration, which already would have provided the weapons labs with more than enough to maintain and modernize the nuclear arsenal.
If approved by Congress in each of the next several years, this huge increase would be 20% higher than NNSA funding levels during the George W. Bush administration years.
If Kyl and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refuse to allow a vote on New START and, later, reconsideration of the CTBT, it would damage U.S. national security and shatter whatever fragile political consensus exists for higher funding to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the years ahead.
THE HIROSHIMA DECLARATION ON THE ABOLITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The undersigned Nobel Peace Laureates and representatives of Nobel Peace Prize organisations, gathered in Hiroshima on November 12-14, 2010, after listening to the testimonies of the Hibakusha, have no doubt that the use of nuclear weapons against any people must be regarded as a crime against humanity and should henceforth be prohibited.
We pay tribute to the courage and suffering of the Hibakusha who survived the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 and honour those that have dedicated their lives to teaching the world about the horrors of nuclear war. Like them, we pledge ourselves to work for a future committed to peace, justice and security without nuclear weapons and war.
"Nuclear weapons are unique in their destructive power, in the unspeakable human suffering they cause, in the impossibility of controlling their effects in space and time, in the risks of escalation they create, and in the threat they pose to the environment, to future generations, and indeed to the survival of humanity." We strongly endorse this assessment by the International Committee of the Red Cross, three times recognised with the Nobel Peace Prize for its humanitarian work.
Twenty-five years ago in Geneva, the leaders of the two largest nuclear powers declared that "a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought". There has been some substantive progress since then. The agreements on intermediate range nuclear forces (INF); strategic arms reductions (START); and unilateral and bilateral initiatives on tactical nuclear weapons, have eliminated tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. We welcome the signing by the United States and Russia of the New START treaty and the consensus Nuclear Disarmament Action Plan that was adopted by the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
Nevertheless, there are still enough nuclear weapons to destroy life on Earth many times over. The proliferation of nuclear weapons and the possibility of their use for acts of terrorism are additional causes for deep concern. The threats posed by nuclear weapons did not disappear with the ending of the Cold War.
Nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented, but they can and must be outlawed, just as chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have been declared illegal. Nuclear weapons, the most inhumane threat of all, should likewise be outlawed in keeping with the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document, which reaffirmed "the need for all States at all times to comply with applicable international law, including international humanitarian law".
Efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons must proceed along with measures to strengthen international law, demilitarize international relations and political thinking and to address human and security needs. Nuclear deterrence, power projection and national prestige as arguments to justify acquiring and retaining nuclear weapons are totally outdated and must be rejected.
We support the UN Secretary General's five point proposal on nuclear disarmament and proposals by others to undertake work on a universal treaty to prohibit the use, development, production, stockpiling or transfer of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon technologies and components and to provide for their complete and verified elimination.
To ensure that the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki never reoccur and to build a world based on cooperation and peace, we issue this call of conscience. We must all work together to achieve a common good that is practical, moral, legal and necessary – the abolition of nuclear weapons.
Hiroshima, November 14, 2010