Exciting news last month as the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which CND is a partner organisation, for their continuing efforts to help rid the world of nuclear weapons. Such a prestigious award is reassuring for the global movement against nuclear weapons: our campaign isn’t going unnoticed. With the state of current affairs, it’s finally nice to hear positive news rather than the toddler tantrums thrown by Tweedledum and Tweedledee (formally known as Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un).
Following decades of tireless campaigning for a nuclear-free world by ICAN and all of its organisations, a treaty to ban nuclear weapons was adopted at the United Nations in July 2017. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into legal force once 50 nations sign and ratify it. This treaty will prohibit nations from developing, testing, producing, manufacturing, possessing, stockpiling, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, as well as prohibiting nations from encouraging anyone to engage in any of these activities. This landmark treating will not only advance nuclear disarmament but will also prevent further proliferation. With almost 15,000 nuclear weapons now on our planet, this is a powerful step in the right direction.
But the treaty doesn’t seem to be stopping Prime Minister Theresa May from committing to spending billions of pounds on replacing Trident. Theresa May even failed to show up at the treaty negotiations, instead choosing to boycott the landmark event – who knew she was such an activist? By ensuring that the UK was not even represented at the talks, Theresa May has quite clearly undermined the hard work that CND and many other organisations have done over the years. Of course the Prime Minister instead joined hands (yet again) with our nuclear buddies in turning a blind eye to this historic development.
The UK government continually say that they are committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Yet, if that were really the case, why would they refuse to take part in negotiating this multilateral treaty? One rule for the UK, another rule for the rest of the world.
Instead of signing this treaty, the government is proposing that we ‘strengthen’ the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT), which prohibits other countries from getting nuclear weapons, whilst allowing us to spend £205 billion replacing ours- hypocrisy at its finest. Whilst the NPT was great for setting a foundation for a nuclear-free world, it was adopted nearly 50 years ago, when the global political landscape was completely different. Unfortunately, the NPT ultimately hasn’t prevented countries such as India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons either. Not only this, but several countries have modernised and increased their nuclear arsenal since signing. It’s no wonder so many countries support an outright ban instead!
53 countries have signed the treaty so far. The Nobel Peace Prize has put a much-needed spotlight on the continuing global efforts to achieve a nuclear-free world and should help to push states into doing the right thing.
But now is not the time for us as campaigners to become complacent. We’re the closest we’ve ever been to global disarmament, but there’s still a while to go. The risk of nuclear weapons being used now is greater than it has been since the height of the Cold War. Not to mention, nuclear weapons have come a long way since then and just one of the thousands of warheads can cause unimaginable destruction. Yet still, Theresa May is sitting on her hands and failing to address the problem diplomatically.
The government must support the global ban to prevent any possibility of nuclear war. As activists, we must continue our campaign and put pressure on Theresa May to set an example to other nuclear states and respect the majority of the world’s decision.
The choice is clear; choose to be on the side of Nobel Peace Prize winners as well as 122 countries or choose to be on the side of Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
By Jessica Muckleston, CND Office Assistant
**Please note, the views expressed in this piece are that of the individual, and not representative of CND as an organisation***
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