Abolish nuclear weapons

Make no mistake - nuclear weapons are still a problem today. Although some may consider them an unfortunate relic from the Cold War, the truth is that the nuclear weapons states are clinging to them as hard as they can, reinventing new roles and designs for them, and recently even proposals for "smaller useable" weapons. And all this despite plenty of speeches, promises and legally binding treaties to get rid of them!

One of 1500 demonstrators, a quarter of the population of Raratonga, who turned out to protest French nuclear testing in 1995.

There is no such thing as a small nuclear explosion, any nuclear explosion will have catastrophic consequences for all living things on the planet. The existence and spread of nuclear weapons stands in theway of any real possibilities for true safety, security and peace. Theonly solution is to abolish them.

In recent years the threat has become even more unpredictable as the nuclear weapon states - the US,the UK, France, Russia and China - have failed to follow their promises made in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to disarm. Countries like Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea have also joined the nuclear weapons club. And due to the widespread use of nuclear energy, about 40 other countries have access to nuclear weapons material and therefore possess the ability to develop nuclear weapons.

The International community as a whole and several key states in particular, must grapple with need to resolve the contradiction at the heart of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treatywhich some claim means nuclear energy is an "inalienable right". The"inalienable right" to nuclear energy is a historical and political mistake; the real legitimate right is to clean and safe energy and nuclear energy is neither. The world has witnessed the acquisition of nuclear weapons capabilities through so-called peaceful civilian nuclear programmes in India, North Korea and Iraq.

But there is hope, some countries have lead the way by getting rid of their weapons. South Africa had nuclear weapons in the 1970s but chose the benefits of disarmament, joining the international community as a country that valued cooperation rather than violence. Once the decision is made, disarmament can happen quite quickly.

Unless leaders of nuclear weapons states follow South Africa's example and begin to dismantle their arsenals, the political leaders in the aspiring nuclear weapons states are unlikely to either. Obviously the more leaders with fingers on the button, the more likely one of them will trigger a nuclear war, by accident or design.

In every case, politicians and military leaders have pursued nuclear weapons without democratic debate in their country. Public opinion polls conducted in nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states show large majorities favouring the abolition of nuclear weapons, and every year at the United Nations when all governments vote, we see the vast majority of the 191 countries voting for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Citizens in nuclear weapons states should question why their leaders feel so entitled to gamble with their lives.

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Historic day at the UN: Nuclear weapons are now banned under international law

Blog entry by Jen Maman | July 8, 2017

Today at the UN Headquarters in New York, a global treaty banning nuclear weapons has been adopted.  This is an historic moment: according to the treaty, to possess and develop nuclear weapons is now illegal under international law.

Nuclear power and the collapse of society

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | May 5, 2017

On March 1 1954, on Bikini Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, the US military detonated the world’s first lithium-deuteride hydrogen bomb, a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. The radiation blew downwind,...

US ship visit: Why's John Key afraid of people-power?

Blog entry by Russel Norman | July 22, 2016

Q/ Why is John Key telling us that the US back down on visiting ships is not a victory for New Zealand’s nuclear free movement? A/ Because if things are to stay the same (which is how the Prime Minister likes them), it is vital...

Japan's nuclear history and the power of peace

Blog entry by Junichi Sato | August 7, 2015

The fight against nuclear is steeped in Greenpeace history. On the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings we're reminded of the consequences of nuclear energy and the people's movement to campaign for nuclear disarmament to create...

Ending the nuclear weapons age

Blog entry by Jen Maman and Aaron Gray-Block | February 19, 2013

The exact number of nuclear weapons situated across the world is shrouded in mystery, but whatever the number, North Korea's underground test this week is a grim reminder of the devastation and destruction these weapons could unleash.

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