Blix calls for removal of US nuclear weapons from Europe

Feature story - June 1, 2006
A new report from the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission to the UN makes some surprising recommendations - among them the removal of US nuclear weapons from NATO countries. It also fundamentally challenges the Bush Administration's nuclear weapons programme and policies of pre-emptive attack. There are 480 US nuclear weapons currently stationed in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Italy, and the UK.

US nuclear missiles in Europe are a provocation to proliferation.

The report, Weapons of Terror, is authored by a commission chaired by former International Atomic Energy Agency head Hans Blix.

The report criticizes all countries involved in the proliferation debate. Iran is not excluded for its continued obfuscation nor the US for its illegal doctrine of pre-emption and its more than 5,000 nuclear weapons, which are described as a major provocation to further proliferation.

Greenpeace received the report a day early when Greenpeace Policy Advisor Felicity Hill stumbled upon a copy accidentally released at the WMDC website.

It was available for several hours before being withdrawn.

"While the world watches with concern at the heated political negotiation over Iran's nuclear programme and holds its breath to see what the US will do next, Blix and his team have produced a state-of-the-art report on all of the pressures and problems surrounding the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," said Ms. Hill.

The report clearly states that the nuclear weapon states are in breach of their Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitment to disarm and "no longer seem to take their commitment to nuclear disarmament seriously - even though this was an essential part of the NPT bargain, both at the treaty's birth in 1968 and when it was extended indefinitely in 1995."

That's the kind of thing we have been saying for decades - but which rarely features in the UN Security Council, dominated as it is by the five permanent members, all of whom possess nuclear weapons.  Far from disarming, they're actually upgrading their arsenals.

The report also observes: "While the reaction of most states to the treaty violations was to strengthen and develop the existing treaties and institutions, the US, the sole superpower, has looked more to its own military power for remedies. The US National Security Strategy of 2002 made it clear that the US would feel free to use armed force without authorization of the United Nations Security Council to counter not only an actual or imminent attack involving WMD but also a WMD threat that might be uncertain as to time and place."

The question remains: will the US continue to undermine international diplomacy, or heed Blix's call to, in effect,  lead by the force of its example rather than the example of its force.

One ghost of Blix's former job of promoting nuclear power pops up when the commission recommends providing nuclear fuel to Iran in a "managed safeguarded and controlled" manner.

We reject the notion that supplying nuclear fuel to anyone will help reduce the danger of nuclear proliferation.  Having the means to make nuclear energy means having the means to make  nuclear weapons. It is the most expensive, unsustainable and dangerous ways to boil water ever invented.

The only sensible way to combat proliferation is to remove the sources of proliferation and that includes nuclear power.

Having correctly identified the problem the WMDC reaches the wrong conclusion. In recognising that nuclear power and nuclear weapons are inextricably linked the only rational conclusion is to reject nuclear power. Instead the world should urgently take up the challenge of developing and deploying renewable energy sources which have the benefit of being both climate-friendly and have no weapons utility whatsoever.

No notion of controlling and safeguarding the production, transport and use of nuclear weapons materials can ever be one hundred percent guaranteed, and the only way to eliminate the risk of diversion or theft by terrorists is to eliminate the materials themselves which means no nuclear power.

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