Inter Press Service » Nuclear Energy – Nuclear Weapons http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Mon, 22 May 2017 13:06:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.18 At UN, Rex Tillerson, Top US Diplomat, Delivers Stark Warnings to North Koreahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/at-un-rex-tillerson-top-us-diplomat-delivers-stark-warnings-to-north-korea/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=at-un-rex-tillerson-top-us-diplomat-delivers-stark-warnings-to-north-korea http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/at-un-rex-tillerson-top-us-diplomat-delivers-stark-warnings-to-north-korea/#comments Sat, 29 Apr 2017 21:42:27 +0000 Barbara Crossette http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=150222 Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, right, who presided over the UN Security Council session on North Korea’s nuclear threats, with Yun Byung-se, his South Korean counterpart, April 28, 2017. Tillerson demanded that all UN member states must abide by UN sanctions on North Korea. Credit: RICK BAJORNAS/UN PHOTO

Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, right, who presided over the UN Security Council session on North Korea’s nuclear threats, with Yun Byung-se, his South Korean counterpart, April 28, 2017. Tillerson demanded that all UN member states must abide by UN sanctions on North Korea. Credit: RICK BAJORNAS/UN PHOTO

By Barbara Crossette
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 29 2017 (IPS)

Speaking to the United Nations Security Council at a meeting on North Korea held at the foreign-minister level, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked member countries to join the United States in a strong campaign to enhance pressures on the Kim Jong-un regime, whose rapidly developing nuclear and missile programs have reached dangerous levels.

The high-level diplomatic session took place on April 28, the final day of the American presidency of the Security Council, a monthly rotating position. The atmosphere signaled that the US was back and needed partners after months of disparaging the UN and insulting various UN member countries.

All 15 Council members read statements at the session, in addition to South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se. North Korean diplomats did not participate in the Council session. But as if to underline the menacing if predictable behavior of the regime, it fired a missile, which apparently failed, not long after the Council’s meeting ended.

The tone of Tillerson’s address to the Council was much more measured than the freewheeling style of Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, who said on her first day in the job that she would “take names” and later threatened to use her high heels for kicking those who opposed American policies. (The heels reference was used when she was governor of South Carolina, referring to labor organizers.)

She also compared the UN with the South Carolina state legislature for its clubbiness when she was governor, yet she promoted a fellow state governor to become head of the UN’s World Food Program. PassBlue obtained the letter she wrote to UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Haley had promised to “fix” things at the UN as well. “I like to fix things,” she told the US Senate Foreign Relations committee at her confirmation hearing in January.

Hints that a new approach by the US toward world politics may be forming, perhaps led by Tillerson, followed a week of extraordinary chaos in an already chaotic White House. President Donald Trump, still lacking a coherent foreign policy of his own, flailed around for a single domestic success he could advertise on his 100th day in office.

He tried and failed again to get a new national health care bill and threw out an ill-considered American tax-reform outline that ran into a buzzsaw of criticism from experts who called it a gift to the rich.

The week of chaos began on April 24 with a White House lunch for all Security Council ambassadors and their spouses, in which the idea of a presidential “we need you” surfaced and praise for the UN Secretary-General Guterres was made by Trump, according to a diplomat at the meeting. Tillerson was not present at the lunch, but Haley sat at the president’s side.

Curiously, Trump tried to make a joke about her tenure in New York, thanking her for her “outstanding leadership” and then asking Council members: “Does everybody like Nikki? Because if you don’t she can easily be replaced. No, we won’t do that. I promise.”

Still, Trump inadvertently raised suspicions about whether Haley will be reined in by Tillerson, who is slowly but surely reorganizing his department and takes a cautious approach to his diplomacy so far. Reports soon emerged that Haley may be required to have her public statements pre-approved by the State Department, but whether she agrees remains to be seen.

Four days later, on April 28, Tillerson’s message in the Security Council session on North Korea was about partnership, stressing not only American fears — the stock rhetoric of the Trump White House — but also the anxieties of Asian nations and the wider world. “The more we bide our time, the sooner we will run out of it,” Tillerson said to a chamber full of UN ambassadors, whom he thanked for their presence. “I urge this Council to act before North Korea does.”

Tillerson’s demand for action — beginning “today,” he said — included familiar complaints from Washington; for example, doing a better job of enforcing UN resolutions aimed at bringing North Korea to a nuclear stand-down. He called for new financial sanctions on anyone, individual or country, who is supporting or abetting North Korea in its nuclear and missile development — thus defying the sanctions regime, the strictest set imposed by the UN on a member country. No higher-level sanctions on, say, digital activities that violate UN penalties, were mentioned.

He also asked all 193 UN member nations to “suspend or downgrade diplomatic relations with North Korea,” saying that the regime of Kim Jong-un was exploiting its diplomatic openings and privileges to fund its technology programs, particularly for its military. And he emphasized the importance of imposing bans on North Korean imports, especially coal. He called for suspending the guest-worker program that bring laborers into various countries who can become agents of the Kim Jong-un regime.

He singled out China. “We must all do our share, but with China accounting for 90 percent of North Korean trade, China alone has economic leverage over Pyongyang that is unique, and its role is therefore particularly important,” Tillerson said. “The US and China have held productive exchanges on this issue, and we look forward to further actions that build on what China has already done.”

Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, in his address to the Council, refused to accept that it was up to his country alone to solve the North Korea problem. “The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side,” he said. China has preferred to deal with the North Korea issue in multination talks, although these have gained little ground in the past.

The Chinese minister told the media before the Council session that his country’s priorities are denuclearization of North Korea, upholding the nonproliferation regime there, peace talks and not to allow “chaos or war to break out on the peninsula.”

Tillerson repeated the long-held position that “all options” were on the table in dealing with North Korea, as Vice President Mike Pence repeated throughout his trip to Northeast Asia.

“Diplomatic and financial levers of power will be backed by a willingness to counteract North Korean aggression with military action, if necessary,” Tillerson said. But he did not repeat Trump’s recent offhand remark that he would meet with Kim Jong-un if the situation required it. Nor did he refer to the cyberwarfare powers that the US has at its disposal, which Washington does not confirm or deny have been used to abort or destroy North Korean missiles after their launchings.

Russia, for its part, emphasized the toll that sanctions took on ordinary North Koreans and said that although Russia was united in condemning in North Korea’s missile launchings, the government won’t give up its nuclear program as long as it feels threatened by US naval exercises in the region.

Speaking to the Council first, Guterres of the UN described North Korea’s nuclear tests and missile firings in recent years as “clear violations of Security Council resolutions.”

He pointed out that these actions have violated numerous international agreements, including maritime law and aviation regulations.

Moreover, Guterres said, “The International Atomic Energy Agency remains unable to access the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to verify the status of its nuclear program,” though it does have sophisticated satellite monitoring in place.

“The DPRK is the only country to have conducted nuclear tests in this century,” Guterres noted. “We must assume that, with each test or launch. The DPRK continues to make technological advances in its pursuit of a military nuclear capability. . . . The onus is on the DPRK to comply with its international obligations. At the same time, the international community must also step up its efforts to manage and reduce tensions.”

In his concluding remarks, speaking as the US representative and not the Council presiding officer, Tillerson re-emphasized the crucial importance of a truly international effort beyond the calls for more negotiations.

“We will not negotiate our way back to the negotiating table with North Korea,” he said. “We will not reward their violations of past resolutions. We will not reward their bad behavior with talks. We will only engage in talks with North Korea when they exhibit a good-faith commitment to abiding by the Security Council resolutions and their past promises to end their nuclear programs.

“And that is why we must have full and complete compliance by every country to the resolutions that have been enacted by this body in the past — no relaxation in the vigorous implementation of sanctions. . . . Any failure to take action diminishes your vote for these resolutions of the past, and diminishes your vote for future resolutions, and it devalues your seat at this Council. We must have full, complete compliance by all members of the Council.”

Leaving the Council after the hourslong session and skirting the media throng outside the chamber, Tillerson walked with Haley to the US mission to the UN across the street, where Council members were treated to lunch.

(Brought to IPS readers courtesy of PassBlue, online independent coverage of the UN, a project of the Ralph Bunche Institute, City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center)

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Fate of Earth Must Not be Decided by US & Fellow Nuclear Stateshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/fate-of-earth-must-not-be-decided-by-us-fellow-nuclear-states/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=fate-of-earth-must-not-be-decided-by-us-fellow-nuclear-states http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/fate-of-earth-must-not-be-decided-by-us-fellow-nuclear-states/#comments Mon, 24 Apr 2017 15:21:57 +0000 Joan Russow http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=150115 Dr Joan Russow is Co-ordinator, Global Compliance Research Project]]> Credit: UN photo

Credit: UN photo

By Joan Russow
VICTORIA, BC, Canada, Apr 24 2017 (IPS)

When the United Nations continues its negotiations in June for an international treaty against nuclear weapons, there must be a treaty that should cover every single aspect of the devastating weapons — and leading eventually to their total elimination from the world’s military arsenals.

As envisaged, the treaty should not only prohibit stockpiling; use and threat of use, and planning for use of nuclear weapons but also the deployment; transfer, acquisition, and stationing; development and production of these weapons—along with testing; transit and transshipment; and financing, assistance, encouragement, and inducement and an obligation for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and a framework to achieve it.(WILPH, Reaching Critical Will).

As Eva Walder, the Swedish representative to the UN’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, declared: “Sweden’s position is clear. The only guarantee that these weapons will never be used again is their total elimination.”

Through the current negotiations, there is the global opportunity to speak truth to power, to save the world from the scourge of war and to prevent and remove the threats to peace.

The US has stated that the treaty to ban nuclear weapons would be ineffective, with adverse consequences for security and would hinder the implementation of Article VI of the US constitution on international treaties.

It is, rather, NATO`s nuclear policy which contravenes Article VI, as well as some of the Thirteen Steps Towards Nuclear Disarmament, and has consequences for common security:

1) nuclear weapons must be maintained indefinitely
2) We will improve their use and accuracy (modernize them)
3) We can use them first.
4) We can target non-nuclear weapon states
5) We can threaten to use them
6) We can keep them in Europe, as they are now doing
7) We can launch some on 15 minutes warning.
8) We say “they are essential for peace
(Murray Thompson, Canadian for a Nuclear Weapons Convention)

In October 17 2016, prior to the vote of the Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) on Nuclear Weapons, the US circulated a “non-paper“, to NATO and its allies on potential negative impacts of starting negotiations for a nuclear ban treaty and wrote,“ for the allies, participating in the OEWG , we strongly urge you to vote no on any vote at the UN First Committee on starting negotiations for a nuclear ban treaty.“ http://www.icanw.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/NATO_OCT2016.pdf

Subsequently, in the October 27 2016 meeting of the OEWG, the US Intervention appeared to work. Only the Netherlands did not vote no. On December 23, 2016.the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approved a significant resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

The resolution was adopted by a large majority, with 113 UN member states voting in favour, 35 voting against and 13 abstaining. Support came from every continent, except Australia, and represented the range of legal systems. It thus fulfilled the criteria for a peremptory norm.

The US appears, however, to have provided a script for the US allies voting on the nuclear ban treaty; most of them gave the reason for voting against the resolution as being, “the US nuclear weapons are essential for its security and they have refused to declare that nuclear weapons should never be used”. Perhaps “security” needs to be redefined not distorted by the US weapons industry.

The late Olof Palme, former Prime Minister of Sweden, affirmed “True security exists when all are secure, through “common security” (Palme Commission (Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security) 1982)
http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/04/the-u-n-at-70-a-time-for-compliance/

The aforementioned October 17 2016 letter to the NATO and the script for allies at the UNGA, continues the practice of the US “influencing“ votes through financial incentives, threats, or intimidation (FITI),

For example, in 1990, only two countries on the UNSC opposed the passage of US Resolution 678, and when Yemen cast one of these votes, the U.S. Ambassador threatened him: “that will be the most expensive vote you ever cast,” and the U.S. immediately cut off aid to Yemen.

In 2003, several UNSC non-permanent members who opposed the US` proposed intervention in Iraq, suddenly came out with a US script supporting the invasion of Iraq. In addition, in 2003, the US sent a letter, described as an ultimatum, to all the members of the UNGA pressing them to not support the call for an emergency session of the UNGA to oppose the invasion of Iraq.

The data, based on UNGA voting patterns, provided in the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) document of participants in the March negotiations, indicates that there were 138 “supportive” states, one “not supportive” state (Japan), and 13 “not clear” states

The ICAN data on voting patterns of participants who did not attend the March negotiations indicate 14 were “supportive, five were “not clear”, 27 NATO states were “not supportive,” along with the other non-NATO nuclear weapons states (Russia, China, Israel, India, Pakistan and other US allies from NATO along with Japan, and South Korea, http://www.icanw.org/

If the 14 supportive states attend the upcoming June 15– July 7 meeting, there will be around 143 “supportive` states” (70% of the 193 member states of the United Nations). This would be the case, provided the US does not threaten or offer financial incentives and persuade them to claim “that the US nuclear weapons are essential for its security and has refused to declare that nuclear weapons should never be used”`.

If there is a positive vote in the UNGA, the US and the four other permanent members will try to block decision through taking any UNGA decision to the UNSC. With the current composition of the UNSC, the nuclear powers will be able to get “not supportive” votes from only three non-permanent members: Italy, Japan and Ukraine.

This is assuming that Bolivia Egypt, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Senegal. Sweden, and Uruguay will not be coerced into renouncing their former supportive positions for a treaty for the abolition of nuclear weapons. If the required number of nine votes does not oppose the treaty, the UNSC would fail to make a decision. Then there is a precedent in the 1950 “Uniting for Peace Resolution” and the decision could pass back to the UNGA. http://www.un.org/en/sc/repertoire/otherdocs/GAres377A(v).pdf

In the Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, there is a call to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war – and “to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace”…

In 2017, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the Doomsday clock to two and one half minutes to midnight because of the threats arising both from nuclear weapons and climate change. The funds thus saved from ending the production of nuclear weapons could be transferred to fully implement the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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A Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons Is in the Makinghttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/a-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons-is-in-the-making/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons-is-in-the-making http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/a-treaty-to-ban-nuclear-weapons-is-in-the-making/#comments Fri, 14 Apr 2017 13:19:36 +0000 Sergio Duarte http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=149969 Sergio Duarte is a Brazilian Ambassador, former United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs; former Chairman of the Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; former President of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Amb. Duarte’s Op-Ed first appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS). Amb. Duarte’s Op-Ed first appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS).]]> Image by The Official Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Photostream – flickr.com

Image by The Official Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Photostream – flickr.com

By Sergio Duarte
UNITED NATIONS, Apr 14 2017 (IPS)

The nine possessors of nuclear weapons and most of their allies chose to ignore the negotiations on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.

This unprecedented initiative resulted from a proposal by South Africa, Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico and Nigeria and was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2016 by an overwhelming majority.

The first Session, from 27 to 31 March, ended on an optimistic tone. There was wide convergence of views on the core prohibitions relating to stockpiling, use, deployment, acquisition, development and production of nuclear weapons.

Sergio Duarte

Sergio Duarte

Other questions such as verification of compliance, clauses for accession by nuclear-armed and other States, timelines for elimination of stockpiles and the relationship of the new instrument with existing treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), among others, will be further discussed during the second Session, from June 15 to July 7, when the President of the Conference will introduce her draft. The future instrument may soon be opened to the signature of States.

It is clear that these negotiations will not bring about a sudden shift in the mindsets of the nine governments that threaten the rest of the world with the willingness to use the most cruel, indiscriminate and destructive weapon ever invented.

It is undeniable, however, that even at this early stage public opinion in many countries have begun to pay attention to the potential impact of a prohibition treaty through press articles and analyses in specialized publications.

The mantra “a world free of nuclear weapons” has become the stated and uncontroverted objective of the community of nations.

Opponents of a ban argue that such an agreement would impede or at least render more difficult efforts for reductions of atomic arsenals under the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and that a treaty to which the current nuclear powers choose not to adhere would not bring about any tangible results in reducing or eliminating nuclear weapons.

They consider that negotiating a prohibition is “premature” and even counterproductive as it risks unraveling the disarmament architecture put together over the past decades.

Supporters, for their part, contend that a ban treaty would establish a clear legal standard rejecting nuclear weapons on humanitarian grounds and would enable States to formalize such a rejection besides enhancing the stigma against those weapons.

They add that it would reaffirm their unacceptability and incompatibility with universally recognized principles of international law and would re-state and strengthen commitments assumed under other treaties. It would enhance, not detract from such commitments.

They hope that it will set into motion a trend toward further specific agreements on nuclear disarmament.

In fact, one of the major challenges for the universality and full effectiveness of a ban treaty is precisely how to design a mechanism that will ensure the possibility, in a second stage, of adherence of States currently under the “umbrella” of nuclear-armed powers and ultimately the adherence of the latter themselves.

Before we can hail a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons as a worthwhile accomplishment or dismiss it as futile, the two sets of arguments must be checked against the results that the treaty may bring about in the short, medium and long run.

If the ban proves at least to be a positive ingredient to infuse life and energy into the moribund multilateral disarmament machinery or to create viable alternative, but not conflicting paths we may consider it useful and justifiable. If not, it will simply fall into oblivion or at best remain as a monument to human fallibility.

The push for negotiations on a nuclear arms ban treaty grew out of years of mounting frustration over the lack of progress in efforts under the NPT regime.

Whether or not parties to that instrument, possessors of nuclear weapons have displayed little or no inclination to fulfill the commitment enshrined in its Article VI, which requires all its Parties “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”.

Possessors are currently engaged in a new round of the nuclear arms race as they seek to enhance the destructive power, accuracy and range of their weapons. As a result, confidence in their real motives and intentions waned in recent years.

In the recent past, a new and powerful force helped to propel forward the drive to finalize a treaty banning nuclear weapons and brought this matter to the forefront of the preoccupations of a large majority of States.

The collective conscience of humankind has increasingly taken to heart the unanimous concern expressed at the 2010 Review Conference of Parties to the NPT over the catastrophic consequences of nuclear detonations as well as the conclusions of three international Conferences held in 2013 and 2014 on such consequences.

In 2015 a large majority of States supported the humanitarian pledge to “stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate” nuclear armament. Civil society organizations contributed studies and discussion forums that helped shape specific, realistic proposals.

The thrust of the movement to ban nuclear weapons is not directed against any State in particular, but against the inhuman nature of nuclear weapons themselves and their disastrous effects on populations and the environment.

The movement does not advocate unilateral disarmament but rather good faith compliance with treaty commitments and with imperatives dictated by humanitarian international law and the universal principles of civilized behavior.

Accordingly, it does not discriminate against “good” or “bad” possessors, whether these are States or non-State actors. No country should be allowed to possess the means to annihilate whole populations and render the planet uninhabitable under the pretense that this would somehow protect their own security.

In his vote in the legal suit brought last year before the International Court of Justice by the Marshall Islands against the nine countries possessing nuclear weapons Judge Cançado Trindade stated: “A world with arsenals of nuclear weapons, like ours, is bound to destroy its past, dangerously threatens the present, and has no future at all. Nuclear weapons pave the way into nothingness”.

It is time for mankind as a whole to act decisively in defense of its own survival.

This article originally appeared Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 10 April 2017: TMS: A Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons Is in the Making.

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A Transformational Moment in Nuclear & International Affairs?http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/a-transformational-moment-in-nuclear-international-affairs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-transformational-moment-in-nuclear-international-affairs http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/04/a-transformational-moment-in-nuclear-international-affairs/#comments Mon, 03 Apr 2017 06:21:12 +0000 John Burroughs http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=149763 John Burroughs is Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy & Director of UN Office of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.]]> Credit: UN Photo

Credit: UN Photo

By John Burroughs
NEW YORK, Apr 3 2017 (IPS)

Is a paradigm shift now underway on nuclear weapons at the United Nations? That was the question posed as about 130 nations gathered this past week to begin negotiations on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination. The treaty would prohibit development, possession and use of nuclear weapons, but would not contain detailed provisions relating to verified dismantlement of nuclear arsenals and governance of a world free of nuclear arms.

This is the first multilateral negotiation on nuclear weapons since the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted in 1996. It is also the first ever such negotiation relating to the global elimination of nuclear arms, despite the fact that the first UN General Assembly resolution, in 1946, called for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

The hope of the nations leading the negotiations, including Costa Rica, whose ambassador, Elayne Whyte, is president of the negotiating conference, is that the second session, to be held from June 15 to July 7, will succeed in adopting a treaty. The idea is to strike while the iron is hot.

What makes the initiative at first hard to grasp is that it involves countries whose acquisition of nuclear weapons is already barred by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and by regional nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties.

The nuclear-armed states (United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel) are not participating, nor are almost all states in military alliances with the United States. The aim, nonetheless, is to set a global standard stigmatizing nuclear arms and laying the foundation for their universal and permanent elimination.

The initiative grew out of three conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear explosions organized by the governments of Norway, Austria, and Mexico, in 2013 and 2014. The straightforward message is that the consequences of use of nuclear weapons are morally unacceptable and also incompatible with international humanitarian law barring the use of weapons causing unnecessary suffering and indiscriminate harm.

Therefore, nuclear weapons should be explicitly prohibited by treaty, as have other weapons including biological weapons, chemical weapons, landmines, and cluster munitions. The initiative also builds upon the regional nuclear weapon free zone treaties, to which most of the negotiating states belong.

The Trump Administration has carried forward the Obama Administration’s policy of opposing the negotiations. An alarming related development is that Christopher Ford, a former US Special Representative for Nonproliferation now serving on the National Security Council, has stated that the administration is reviewing “whether or not the goal of a world without nuclear weapons is in fact a realistic objective, especially in the near to medium term.” Ford, a lawyer, knows very well that the United States is legally bound by Article VI of the NPT to pursue in good faith negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament.

A common objection made by U.S. allies is that a nuclear ban treaty will undermine the NPT. Participating states reply: How? We are negotiating an effective measure relating to nuclear disarmament as Article VI requires of all NPT states parties.

The first week of negotiations revealed a broad convergence in favor of a relatively simple prohibition treaty. Only a few countries advocated negotiation in this forum of a comprehensive convention addressing all aspects of nuclear disarmament. Many other countries see negotiation of a comprehensive convention as a step to be taken later, when at least some nuclear-armed states are ready to participate.

There remain significant issues to be resolved concerning the provisions of a prohibition treaty, including issues relating to threat of use of nuclear arms and to testing. My organization, the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA), advocates for inclusion of a prohibition of threat of use.

In our view, that would confirm and specify existing international law and, as Chile and South Africa also said, help to delegitimize nuclear deterrence. An opposing view is that the illegality of threat of use would be implicit in the prohibitions of possession and use and is already adequately covered by the UN Charter.

IALANA also calls for the treaty to prohibit design and testing of nuclear weapons, capturing a whole suite of activities from computer simulations to explosive testing. The treaty will help set the template for future disarmament agreements, and therefore should be reasonably comprehensive.

Many governments support the inclusion of a prohibition of at least testing. Some governments maintain, however, that it is captured by the prohibition of development and note that explosive testing is banned by the yet to enter into force CTBT.

A knotty issue is how to handle possible later participation in the treaty by nuclear-armed states. The basic options are to require that they denuclearize prior to joining the treaty, or to provide that they may join the treaty if they have accepted a time-bound obligation verifiably to eliminate their arsenal. Participation by nuclear-armed states in a ban treaty in the near term is entirely theoretical, and may not happen even when they do decide to eliminate their arsenals. Still, negotiators want to make it clear that all states are welcome and encouraged to join the treaty.

The initiative and the negotiations have been marked by close cooperation between governments and civil society, notably the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and with the International Committee of the Red Cross. Civil society was given ample opportunity to comment throughout the first week.

Such cooperation has never before occurred in the nuclear sphere. Also noteworthy is that the negotiations are taking place in a UN process over the opposition of the permanent five members of the Security Council, perhaps a harbinger of democratization of the United Nations.

Diplomats and civil society organizations involved in the negotiations are clearly energized, even passionate, and determined to work constructively. If all goes well, members of a ban treaty, working together with civil society, will become a potent collective actor that will transform nuclear and international affairs for the better.

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Trump, the Banks and the Bombhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2017/01/trump-the-banks-and-the-bomb/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=trump-the-banks-and-the-bomb http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/01/trump-the-banks-and-the-bomb/#comments Sat, 07 Jan 2017 07:59:40 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=148435 Nuclear weapon test at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Credit: United States Department of Defense via Wikimedia Commons

Nuclear weapon test at Bikini Atoll in 1946. Credit: United States Department of Defense via Wikimedia Commons

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Jan 7 2017 (IPS)

When pro-nuclear disarmament organisations last October cheered the United Nations decision to start in 2017 negotiations on a global treaty banning these weapons, they probably did not expect that shortly after the US would elect Republican businessman Donald Trump as their 45th president. Much less that he would rush to advocate for increasing the US nuclear power.

The United Nations on Oct. 27, 2016 adopted a resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons, putting an end to two decades of paralysis in world nuclear disarmament efforts.

At a meeting of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, which deals with disarmament and international security matters, 123 nations voted in favour of the resolution, 38 against it and 16 abstaining.

The resolution will set up a UN conference beginning in March 2017, which will be open to all member states, to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”. The negotiations will continue in June and July this year.

The Geneva-based International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a civil society coalition active in 100 countries, hailed the adoption of the resolution as a major step forward, marking a “fundamental shift in the way that the world tackles this paramount threat.”

“For seven decades, the UN has warned of the dangers of nuclear weapons, and people globally have campaigned for their abolition. Today the majority of states finally resolved to outlaw these weapons,” said ICAN’s executive director, Beatrice Fihn.

Despite arm-twisting by a number of nuclear-armed states, the resolution was adopted in a landslide. A total of 57 nations were co-sponsors, with Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa taking the lead in drafting the resolution.

European Parliament’s Resolution

The UN vote came just hours after the European Parliament adopted its own resolution on this subject – 415 in favour, 124 against, 74 abstentions– inviting European Union member states to “participate constructively” in the 2017 year’s negotiations, ICAN noted.

Nuclear weapons remain the only weapons of mass destruction not yet outlawed in a comprehensive and universal manner, despite their well-documented catastrophic humanitarian and environmental impacts, the anti-nuke campaign chief warned.

“A treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons would strengthen the global norm against the use and possession of these weapons, closing major loopholes in the existing international legal regime and spurring long-overdue action on disarmament,” said Fihn.

“Today’s [Oct. 27, 2016] vote demonstrates very clearly that a majority of the world’s nations consider the prohibition of nuclear weapons to be necessary, feasible and urgent. They view it as the most viable option for achieving real progress on disarmament.”

Biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions are all explicitly prohibited under international law. But only partial prohibitions currently exist for nuclear weapons.

ICAN also recalls that nuclear disarmament has been high on the UN agenda since the organisation’s formation in 1945. “Efforts to advance this goal have stalled in recent years, with nuclear-armed nations investing heavily in the modernisation of their nuclear forces.”

Other pro-nuclear disarmament organisations also welcomed the UN resolution. They included PAX, a partnership between IKV (Interchurch Peace Council) and Pax Christi; Soka Gakai International (SGI), a community-based Buddhist organisation that promotes peace, culture and education centered on respect for the dignity of life; and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), just to mention a few.

US Must Greatly Strengthen, Expand Its Nuclear Capability – Trump

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.  Photo: Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Wikipedia

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Gage Skidmore. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Wikipedia

The global ani-nuke movment, however, soon saw its joy being frustrated by the US president-elect Donald Trump, who in a tweet on Dec. 22, 2016, wrote:

Donald J. Trump Verified account ‏@realDonaldTrump : “The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.

Trump’s announcement, if materialised, would imply one of the most insourmountable hardles facing the world anti-nuclear movement.

Is Your Bank Funding Nuclear Bombs?

Meanwhile, the international campaign to prevent private banks and financial companies from funding the production and modernisation of nuclear weapons has achieved a further step forward.

“Governments have decided to negotiate a nuclear weapons ban treaty in 2017, and now is the time for banks, pension funds and insurance companies to get ready and end financial relations with companies involved in nuclear weapons,” says Susi Snyder from PAX and author of a the Hall of Fame report.

“Around 400 private banks, pension funds and insurance companies continue to fund –with their clients’ money– the production of nuclear weapons.”

According to this study, 18 banks, controlling over 1.7 trillion Euros, are ready not to collaborate in the funding of atomic weapons, with policies that strictly prohibit any investment of any type in any kind of nuclear weapon-producing company.

These 18 banks are profiled in the Hall of Fame of the Don’t Bank on the Bomb 2016 edition, which was issued on Dec. 7, 2016. These Hall of Fame institutions are based in Australia, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The report also shows there are another 36 financial institutions with policies that specifically name nuclear weapons as a concern, and limit investment in some ways.

“Even though these policies have loopholes, they still demonstrate there is a stigma associated with investments in nuclear weapons. PAX calls on these institutions to strengthen their policies and Don’t Bank on the Bomb offers tailored recommendations for each financial institute in the Runners-Up.”

Investments are not neutral, warns the report. “Financing and investing are active choices, based on a clear assessment of a company and its plans. Institutions imposing limitations on investing in nuclear weapons producers are responding to the growing stigma against these weapons, designed to kill indiscriminately.”

All of the nuclear-armed countries are modernising their nuclear weapon arsenals, and Don’t Bank on the Bomb details how 27 private companies are producing key components to make nuclear weapons as well as the 390 banks, insurance companies and pension funds that still invest in nuclear weapon-producing companies, the report adds.

“As a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons is to be negotiated in 2017, states should include a prohibition on financing to provide an added incentive for the financial industry to exclude nuclear weapon associated companies from their investment universe, and raise the economic cost of nuclear weapons deployment, stockpiling and modernisation.”

Some Striking Facts about Nukes

The International Campaign against Nuclear Weapons summarises the most striking facts about this weapon of mass destruction:

Which countries have nuclear weapons and how many?

What are their effects on health and the environment?

Who supports a global ban on nuclear weapons?

What are the most significant events of the nuclear age?

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Ethiopia, Kazakhstan, Sweden Among New Members of UN Security Councilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/ethiopia-kazakhstan-sweden-among-new-members-of-un-security-council/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopia-kazakhstan-sweden-among-new-members-of-un-security-council http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/ethiopia-kazakhstan-sweden-among-new-members-of-un-security-council/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 01:27:14 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145864 Italy and the Netherlands have taken the unusual step of splitting the term of a UN Security Council seat. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine.

Italy and the Netherlands have taken the unusual step of splitting the term of a UN Security Council seat. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine.

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Jun 29 2016 (IPS)

Bolivia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Sweden were elected on Tuesday to serve on the UN Security Council (UNSC) as non-permanent members, while Italy and Netherlands have split the remaining contested seat.

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) met to choose five new non-permanent members who will serve a two-year term starting January 2017 alongside the 15-member council.

As the UN’s most powerful body, the UNSC is responsible for international peace and security matters from imposing sanctions to brokering peace deals to overseeing the world’s 16 peacekeeping missions.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom expressed how “happy” and “proud” Sweden is to be joining the UN’s top decision-making body.

“We will do now what we promised to do,” she told press. Among its priorities, Sweden has pledged to focus on conflict prevention and resolution.

“With 40 conflict and 11 full-blown wars, it is a very very worrisome world that we have to take into account,” Wallstrom stated.

Despite its location in Northern Europe,  Sweden has not been untouched by recent conflicts, including the ongoing civil war in Syria. With a population of 9.5 million, the Scandinavian country took in over 160,000 asylum seekers in 2015. The government has since imposed tougher restrictions on asylum seekers including a decrease in permanent residence permits and limited family reunification authorisations.

Ethiopia has also highlighted its position in promoting regional and continental peace and security. The country is the largest contributor of UN peacekeepers and is actively involved in mediating conflicts in Africa, most recently in South Sudan. It has also long struggled with its own clashes, including a crackdown on political dissent.

The Sub-Saharan African country has also promised to work towards UNSC reforms.

During the 70th Session of the UNGA in September 2015, Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn remarked that he was “proud” that Ethiopia is one of the UN’s founding members, but stressed the need to reform and establish a permanent seat for Africa in the council.

“Comprehensive reform of the United Nations system, particularly that of the Security Council, is indeed imperative to reflect current geo-political realities and to make the UN more broadly representative, legitimate and effective,” he told delegates.

“We seize this occasion to, once again, echo Africa’s call to be fully represented in all the decision-making organs of the UN, particularly in the Security Council,” Dessalegn continued.

Ethiopia has been a non-permanent member of the UNSC on two previous occasions, in 1967/1968 and 1989/1990.

It will also be the third time that Bolivia will have a non-permanent SC seat. Bolivia campaigned unopposed with the backing of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

“Bolivia is a country that has basic principles…one of those principles is, without a doubt, anti-imperialism,” the Bolivian delegation said following their election, adding that they will continue implementing these principles as a member of the UNSC.

Since the election of Evo Morales, its first indigenous leader, the South American country has largely focused on social reforms and indigenous rights. Most recently, Morales has been reportedly implicated in a political scandal that is threatening journalists and press freedom.

Kazakhstan became the first Central Asian country to be a member of the UNSC after beating Thailand for the seat.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov said that he was “very happy” and their selection was a “privilege.” He also reiterated the country’s priority focus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan relinquished its nuclear weapons and has been actively advocating for non-proliferation around the world.

“We have a lot to offer to the world and we believe that it is time to attract attention to the need of development in our part of the world,” Idrissov stated.

However, Human Rights Watch has scrutinized the Central Asian nation’s human rights record, including restrictions on freedom of expression.

Netherlands and Italy were up for the last Western European seat on the UNSC, but after four rounds of voting, they were deadlocked with each country receiving 95 votes while needing 127 to win.

Following deliberations, Italian and Dutch foreign ministers announced that they would split the seat, with Italy in the UNSC in 2017 and the Netherlands in 2018.

Since May, the six countries have been campaigning for council seats by participating in the first-ever election debates in the UN’s 70-year history.

The debates were a part of a new effort to increase transparency in the institution.

The new non-permanent members will work alongside the five veto-wielding permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Following their controversial exit from the European Union, known as “Brexit”, the UK may face an uncertain future in the UNSC as the prospects of Scotland and Northern Ireland leaving the UK loom.

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An Elite Club of Suicide Bombershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/an-elite-club-of-suicide-bombers-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=an-elite-club-of-suicide-bombers-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/06/an-elite-club-of-suicide-bombers-2/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 16:50:10 +0000 Editor Dawn http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145729 By Editor, Dawn, Pakistan
Jun 21 2016 (Dawn, Pakistan)

It is always baffling, isn’t it, to see the yawning difference in our responses in South Asia to a gathering communal threat, for instance, as opposed to the catastrophic prospect of nuclear annihilation? Only recently, Pakistan toggled between public outcry and terrified whispers when teeming mourners showed up at the funeral of an executed religious zealot, the savage killer of a popular provincial governor.

57682f60102e5_In India, the sight of glistening, unsheathed swords or trishuls used to disembowel helpless people, as happened in Gujarat in 2002, evokes outrage from the middle classes among others. The remorseless lynching of men, women and children and an almost formulaic public gang rape of women that accompanies such abhorrent outings fill us with horror. It all horrifies us because we abhor bloodshed and hurting innocents. We are outraged because we see the rule of law collapsing; we see injustice ruling, where women bear the brunt of a hideous mob.

Remember the piles of bodies on military trolleys in Jaffna? They included the sexually tortured cadavers of women from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. We acknowledged at the time that though the LTTE included ruthless killers in its ranks, the military response was even more inhuman. Some of the cases we petitioned before international arbiters.

The middle classes that quake at the thought of gore and fascist hordes seem incorrigibly sanguine about a nuclear calamity.

So one thing is clear. We abhor bloodshed or at least most of us do. We are not inclined to accept organised mass rape or torture and targeted lynching as an occurrence we have to learn to live with. In fact, even laden with our unending grief and sorrow, as glimpsed in the case of Zakia Jafri and her doughty supporter, Teesta Setalvad, we want the severest retribution for our killers but not capital punishment.

What goes wrong when it comes to the prospect of nuclear annihilation? Why do we go silent or even appear indifferent? The middle classes that quake at the thought of gore and fascist hordes seem incorrigibly sanguine about a nuclear calamity. The cavalier way in which we behave towards our own or someone else’s nuclear arsenal is clearly not the standard global response to weapons of mass destruction, not even to nuclear power. Are we thus behaving like the third world that we are, people who are so busy warding off starvation and so on, that we don’t have the time or inclination to reflect on a major existential issue? Or is it because very few among us believe that a nuclear exchange, say between India and Pakistan, or between India and China, is really possible?

Examine: India joining NSG will escalate nuclear race in South Asia: US senator

We hear ever so often from nation-first analysts who try to assure us that the concept of mutually assured destruction (MAD) is adequate to deter a nuclear war. If Pakistan, for example, targets India then Pakistan would be made extinct by India, or so goes the doctrine. In which case the world should relax. There cannot be war. Yet there is that lingering doubt. What if the Pakistani ruler or the man with the trigger control says enough is enough, it’s time for all the faithful to go to heaven? And he or they pull the trigger? This is a common and pervasive fear across the world. North Korea could do it. Vladimir Putin could. Donald Trump, if he succeeds in his presidential bid will only be a shade more fraught than Hillary Clinton in posing a global threat. That’s a given.

In the cluster of those that are genuinely sensitive to the ticking of the Doomsday Clock are New Zealand and South Africa. They have opposed the US-backed move to include India in the elite club called NSG, the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

But why should India or Pakistan or Israel, which would be the ultimate beneficiary of the current dogfight between India and Pakistan over the NSG bone, be indulged? What does it signal to the rest of the world — that we are ready to honour two more or possibly three new members to the elite club of suicide bombers? That is what they are, nothing less. Suicide bombers. How are they different — the so-called P5 from those that wear belts to blow up people? To suggest that India’s participation in the club of bombers would make the world more stable or secure is to ignore history. The NSG was barely a decade old in 1983 when the presence of mind of a Soviet officer manning the early warning system prevented a nuclear war and thereby the end of the world. India and Pakistan will not have the luxury of the time gap that may have saved us in 1983.

Read: Nuclear leak in Gujarat may be more serious than the Indian government is claiming

That doesn’t answer the question though. Why are we in South Asia, laden with the potential to destroy ourselves many times over, so blasé about the issue? One Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union sent shivers down the spine of the world. I was in Tokyo the day the Fukushima calamity took place in Japan. It was scary. But I have to say something about the discipline of the Japanese, the way they trooped out of their offices and schools and homes and forded through the crisis without treading on the toes of the person next to them.

The mile-long lines to the telephone booths moved steadily, with everyone sure they would get their chance to send a message to their folks. Consider the melee that occurs in our patch at the drop of a hat. So many crushed in a stampede in such and such religious fair. Can we even begin to imagine the stampede if and when a nuclear calamity takes place? It rained exploding missiles at a military arms depot in Maharashtra the other day. It was an accident. There have been several close calls at our nuclear facilities as well. That somehow doesn’t frighten us as much as fidayeen suicide bombers and unsheathed swords do. Why?

The writer is Dawn’s correspondent in Delhi. jawednaqvi@gmail.com

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

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Strange Spectacle: Nuclear Security Summit 2016http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/04/strange-spectacle-nuclear-security-summit-2016/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=strange-spectacle-nuclear-security-summit-2016 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/04/strange-spectacle-nuclear-security-summit-2016/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2016 15:59:17 +0000 John Burroughs2 http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144461 John Burroughs is Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and a member of the Marshall Islands’ International Legal Team.]]>

John Burroughs is Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and a member of the Marshall Islands’ International Legal Team.

By Dr. John Burroughs
NEW YORK, Apr 4 2016 (IPS)

At the invitation of President Obama, on April 1 more than 50 leaders of countries, including all countries possessing nuclear arsenals, except Russia and North Korea, gathered in Washington for the fourth Nuclear Security Summit.

The focus was on securing civilian highly enriched uranium (HEU) and other modest and voluntary steps aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological materials usable in weapons. HEU intended to fuel civilian nuclear reactors is a small fraction of the total amount of weapons-usable HEU and plutonium in the world.

It was a strange spectacle indeed to see so much political capital invested in limited measures which do not address:
• the estimated 15,000-plus nuclear weapons in the possession of states which say they are prepared to use them; there are no safe hands, state or non-state, for these horrific devices
• the large stocks of HEU and plutonium in military programs
• the large stocks of reactor-grade but weapons-usable plutonium
• ongoing production of HEU and plutonium and construction of new reprocessing plants to yield plutonium

The contrast is stark with the global negotiations on prevention of climate change that culminated in the Paris Agreement last December. While that agreement is only a start, at least its negotiators acknowledged and sought to address the reality of climate change in its entirety.

Also remarkable and deplorable is that the United States and the other nuclear-armed states are so far boycotting the 2016 United Nations Open-ended Working Group on Taking Forward Multilateral Negotiations on Nuclear Disarmament. Established by the General Assembly in late 2015 with the support of 138 countries, the Working Group is charged with discussing legal measures and norms needed to attain and maintain a world without nuclear weapons. Its next session will be held in Geneva in May.

The United States and five other nuclear-armed states (China, France, Israel, North Korea, Russia) have additionally refused the Marshall Islands’ requests to defend their stances on nuclear disarmament before the International Court of Justice.

Referring to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to the long history of General Assembly resolutions on nuclear disarmament, in a 1996 Advisory Opinion the Court unanimously concluded: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective control.”

The Marshall Islands contends that the obligation applies universally, binding those few states (India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan) not party to the NPT, and further contends that all states possessing nuclear arsenals are failing to comply with the obligation.

Cases are proceeding against the India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom. They are the only nuclear-armed states which have accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice as to disputes involving other states, including the Marshall Islands, having likewise accepted the Court’s jurisdiction.

Hearings on preliminary issues were held in The Hague from March 7 to 16, and rulings by the Court on whether the cases will go forward to the merits are expected within the next six months.

The limited scope of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, and the nuclear-armed states’ resistance to the enterprise of nuclear disarmament in other forums, corrodes the international cooperation badly needed in the nuclear arena and as to climate and other urgent issues as well.

The world would have been far safer if this had been the fourth Nuclear Abolition Summit. It is past time for the United States, Russia, and other states to embrace and urgently implement a broader agenda to achieve without delay a world free of nuclear weapons.

(End)

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US Nuclear Security Summit Shadowed by Rising Terrorismhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/us-nuclear-security-summit-shadowed-by-rising-terrorism/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=us-nuclear-security-summit-shadowed-by-rising-terrorism http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/us-nuclear-security-summit-shadowed-by-rising-terrorism/#comments Fri, 25 Mar 2016 18:31:20 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144363 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 25 2016 (IPS)

When some of the world’s major nuclear powers meet in Washington DC next Friday, they will be shadowed by the rising terrorist attacks– largely in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, which will take place 31 March-April 1, will the fourth and final conference in a series initiated by US President Barack Obama in 2009 to address one key issue: nuclear terrorism as an extreme threat to global security.

According to the US State Department, the overarching theme of the summit meeting, to be attended by the world’s nuclear leaders, is “the risk of nuclear or radiological terrorism and how nations can mitigate this threat.”

Dr Rebecca Johnson, a London-based expert on non-proliferation and multilateral security agreements, told IPS the terrorist attacks that ripped through Brussels “tragically remind us that President Obama’s key objective in setting up the Nuclear Security Summits was to prevent nuclear materials getting into the hands of anyone wishing to use them for nuclear or radiological weapons.”

“As well as strengthening intelligence and transnational cooperation, I hope they won’t forget that the risks start with the nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nine nuclear-armed states”.

These nine include the five permanent members of the UN Security Council –the US, Britain, France, China and Russia –plus India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.

Johnson said access to nuclear weapons and materials would be greatly reduced if governments would take bold steps to prohibit everyone from using and deploying nuclear weapons, along with activities like transporting warheads and nuclear materials.

This is one of the initiatives being discussed in a UN Working Group in Geneva this year.

“But the Obama administration appears determined to block any progress towards this nuclear security objective, which would put nuclear weapons on the same illegal, pariah footing as chemical and biological weapons,” said Dr Johnson, who founded the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy in 1996 after working as an activist and then analyst on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations

Dr M.V. Ramana, a physicist and lecturer at Princeton University’s Programme on Science and Global Security and the Nuclear Futures Laboratory, told IPS: “As the last nuclear security summit during the Obama administration’s term, I hope that the summit will not be an exercise in futility. Unfortunately, I don’t think we should have any expectations of any dramatic breakthroughs”.

To start with, he said, all the Security summits have been very narrowly focused on just civilian HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium). Occasionally there is some talk about plutonium, but this is more the exception than the rule.

The real big stockpiles of fissile material are the military stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and weapon grade plutonium that are possessed by countries with nuclear weapons, and the large quantities of reactor grade plutonium accumulated by countries that reprocess their spent fuel, he pointed out.

“These stockpiles should be the real focus of any process that is interested in reducing nuclear dangers—and unfortunately I think the upcoming summit will fail that test”, said Dr Ramana, the author of The Power of Promise: Examining Nuclear Energy in India.

Dr Johnson told IPS though it’s essential to share intelligence and ensure the best possible safety and security practices around nuclear facilities and materials, but more sustainable security requires ending the production and use of plutonium and highly enriched uranium – not only for weapons purposes, but also for military purposes like naval nuclear reactors in submarines and for all commercial purposes.

“There’s no need for these highly dangerous fissile materials to be produced or used any more”.

She said banning the production, use and trade in plutonium and HEU should be a no brainer for anyone who really cares about preventing nuclear use and terrorism.

But unfortunately the US and many others who plan to be in Washington next week are so stuck in their own outdated nuclear dependencies that they will prefer to rearrange the deckchairs rather than tackle the tough challenges that require them to change direction, he added.

“The two most salient measures they could take to prevent nuclear terror are the ones they will try to avoid – a nuclear ban treaty to take these WMD (weapons of mass destruction) out of circulation, and measures to end the production and use of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for all purposes,” declared Dr Johnson.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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CTBTO to Install Two Nuclear Monitoring Stations in Ecuadorhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/ctbto-to-install-two-nuclear-monitoring-stations-in-ecuador/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ctbto-to-install-two-nuclear-monitoring-stations-in-ecuador http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/03/ctbto-to-install-two-nuclear-monitoring-stations-in-ecuador/#comments Mon, 07 Mar 2016 14:41:25 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144095 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 7 2016 (IPS)

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), based in Vienna, will soon install two new monitoring stations in Ecuador.

CTBTOs Executive Secretary Dr Lassina Zerbo told IPS the two stations in Ecuador, RN 24 and IS 20, “will brings us an important step closer to the completion of the International Monitoring System – the network that monitors the globe 24/7 for signs of nuclear explosive testing.”

Courtesy of CTBTO

Courtesy of CTBTO

“I am very grateful to the Government and the people of Ecuador for this valuable contribution to global security, especially given the special status of the Galapagos Islands,” he added.

The stations will be located on Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, and a province of Ecuador.

Zerbo underlined the importance of both stations which are expected to enhance global coverage of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) verification regime.

The stations will be located near the Equator, where detection capabilities through infrasound and radionuclide monitoring are relatively lower due to the absence of steadily flowing winds.

The two stations will considerably enhance coverage for the Pacific Ocean, where hundreds of nuclear tests were conducted in past decades.

According to CTBTO, the infrasound station in the Galapagos will not only enhance the verification regime’s global detection capabilities but also assist in regional disaster warning efforts, including detections of volcanic eruptions.

There are a number of volcanoes in Ecuador, including the Tungurahua volcano which last erupted in April 2014. Data generated by both stations can also contribute to research of the atmosphere, storm systems and climate change.

The CTBTO’s global monitoring network now comprises over 300 stations, some in the most remote and inaccessible areas of the earth and sea.

The network captures four types of data: seismic (shockwaves in the earth), hydroacoustic (measuring sound through water), infrasound (low frequency sound) and radionuclide (radioactivity). It is about 90 percent complete.

When completed, the system will have 337 stations placed globally to monitor every corner of the planet effectively

Currently, there are three certified seismic stations in Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil), 16 auxiliary seismic stations, six certified infrasound stations, with two still planned, including the one in Ecuador, one hydroacoustic station (Juan Fernandez Island, Chile), and nine radionuclide stations, two of which are under construction – not including the one planned in Ecuador.

There are also radionuclide laboratories in Argentina and Brazil.

The locations of the various stations is prescribed by the CTBT and based on scientific methods which are designed to ensure complete coverage of the globe.

Every additional station that is certified, improves the overall reliability of the network (which, incidentally, is already performing at a far higher and more accurate rate than was envisaged when the Treaty was being negotiated), according to CTBTO.

The network is a way to guard against test ban treaty violations because the CTBT prohibits nuclear explosions worldwide: in the atmosphere, underwater and underground.

“The CTBTO’s International Monitoring System has found a wider mission than its creators ever foresaw: monitoring an active and evolving Earth,” said Zerbo.

He said some compare the system to a combined giant Earth stethoscope and sniffer that looks, listens, feels and sniffs for planetary irregularities.

It’s the only global network which detects atmospheric radioactivity and sound waves which humans cannot hear, said Zerbo.

He said the CTBTO would work closely together with all national stakeholders involved to ensure that the establishment of the two stations at the Galapagos Islands would be amongst the quickest ever undertaken by the organization, while ensuring the highest environmental protection standards during the stations’ installation and operation.

He also expressed his appreciation for the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry’s excellent coordination in this regard.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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New Nuclear Hysteria in the Middle Easthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/new-nuclear-hysteria-in-the-middle-east/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=new-nuclear-hysteria-in-the-middle-east http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/new-nuclear-hysteria-in-the-middle-east/#comments Mon, 29 Feb 2016 17:37:44 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=144035 Image by The Official CTBTO Photostream – flickr.com

Image by The Official CTBTO Photostream – flickr.com

By Baher Kamal
MADRID, Feb 29 2016 (IPS)

Three years ago when the tsunami of panic around Iran’s potential capability to develop nuclear weapons reached its peak, a combined diplomatic, media campaign warning that a Gulf Arab state would think of purchasing atomic bombs was spread like an oil spot.

Now that the so-called P5+1group (US, UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany) few months ago concluded an agreement with Iran to prevent the risk of an eventual military nuclear programme in exchange of lifting massive Western sanctions, a new wave of nuclear hysteria seems to be in the air.

In fact, just a few days ago, a news item that the Gulf states would be now seeking nukes, came out of the Munich Security Conference, which was basically meant to set an accord between the US and Russia to establish a humanitarian ceasefire as a step on the 18 December 2015 UN Resolution 2254 (2015) roadmap for Syria.

The majority of Arab media did not pay due attention to this piece of news which, if translated into real facts, would change the fate of the whole region.

What is this all about ?

The Persian Gulf states seeking nuclear weapons to counter “bad guy” Iran have held clandestine meetings with Israel despite not having official ties with Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon revealed at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, RT on 15 February reported.

Arabs Ready to Acquire Nukes?

“We see signs that countries in the Arab world are preparing to acquire nuclear weapons, that they are not willing to sit quietly with Iran on brink of a nuclear or atomic bomb,” Ya’alon told fellow defense ministers on Sunday [14 February], the final day of the Munich Security Conference.

Ya’alon did not name specific countries who might be interested in developing nuclear weapons and gave no evidence to back up his claims –RT informed– however, he then made a surprise statement that the Gulf states – officially hostile to Tel Aviv because of its occupation of the West Bank – had held clandestine meetings with Israel.

“Not only Jordan and Egypt,” he said, referring to the only Arab countries who signed peace treaties with Israel after three Arab-Israeli wars, according to this television network which runs cable and satellite television channels directed to audiences outside the Russian Federation.

“I speak about the Gulf states and North African states too. Unfortunately they are not here to listen. For them, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are the enemy. Iran is the bad guy for us and for the Sunni regimes. They are not shaking hands [with Israelis] in public, but we meet in closed rooms.”

In the meantime, Israel is widely believed to possess dozens of nuclear warheads, although official statistics do not exist… Israel possesses Jericho-3 ballistic missiles capable of delivering up to 1,000kg load at ranges of 4,800 to 6,500km. Additionally, it is believed to have a naval nuclear strike capability, using Dolphin-class submarine-launched nuclear-capable cruise missiles, said RT.

The Israeli Air Force also has F-15I and F-16I Sufa fighter aircraft, which can be utilized to deliver tactical and strategic nuclear weapons at long distances using external fuel tanks or aerial re-fueling fleet of modified Boeing 707s, according to the Russian network.

“We do have atomic bombs. This is no news. World powers know that we have the bomb and we want to test it. This would take place should Iran conduct a nuclear test,” prominent Saudi political analyst, Daham to Anzi, told RT,” the Russian TV network on 20 February½ reported in its Spanish service.

“US sources said in May last year that Saudi military had traveled to Pakistan, an ally country, to acquire nuclear weapons “available for sale”. This action of the Saudi military was motivated by Ryiad’s concerns of a hypothetical nuclear threat from Iran.”

A Nuclear Free Middle East

This is not the first time that the risk that Gulf countries may acquire nuclear arms has been raised. Prince Turki al-Faisal, a former Saudi ambassador to the United States, had over two years ago warned that nuclear threats from Israel and Iran might force Saudi Arabia to follow suit.

As the Wall Street Journal on November 2013 pointed out, the Saudis may conclude that international acceptance of a nuclear programme of any kind by Iran may compel them “to seek their own nuclear weapons capability through a simple purchase.” The likely source: Pakistan, whose nuclear programme was partly funded by the Saudis.

Inhumane suffering from nuclear bombs - Hiroshima. Credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)

Inhumane suffering from nuclear bombs – Hiroshima. Credit: International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN)


Anyway, these reports bring to mind the half-a-century-long debate around the Egyptian-led Arab proposal to free the Middle East from all weapons of mass destruction, starting with the nuclear ones.

In fact, the 22 states forming the Arab region are all signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which meets, every five years, to review the state of implementation of this global agreement aimed at preventing the proliferation of atomic warheads. In all successive review conferences, the Arab states reiterated their proposal to declare the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

Though the UN Security Council adopted in 1995 a resolution meant to pursue this goal, the NPT review conferences have so far failed to move forward in such direction, mainly due to Israeli, US-backed position against any attempt implying that Tel Aviv dismantles its nuclear arsenal.

Israel is widely believed to posses between 210 and 250 nuclear warheads, an amount that largely exceeds those in the hands of India (80 nuclear bombs) and Pakistan (90). The government of Tel Aviv systematically refuses either to confirm or deny the existence of such nuclear arsenal.

The sole attempt to implement the 1995 Security Council’s resolution, came out in 2010, when the NPT review meeting called for an “international conference” –not under the UN umbrella– to deal with that resolution. Following intensive efforts to find a country ready to host the conference, Finland volunteered to have it in Helsinki. But diplomatic talks failed to organise the meeting.

In view of this yet another frustration and also of the brinkmanship games being played by big military powers in the region, the Arab countries in general, and in the Gulf region in particular, have lately been expressing fresh fears of Iran’s nuclear programme and therefore focusing, again, on nukes.

Not That the Arabs Want to Go Nuclear, But…

Arab states have repeatedly heralded their opposition to any kind of nuclear activity in the region.

In fact, a couple of years ahead of the 2015 NPT conference, both Bahrain’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ghanum Fadhel Al Buainain, and Foreign Affairs Minister, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Bin Mohamed Al Khalifa, told this journalist in Manama in March 2013 that their nation – likewise all other Gulf countries – do not want to hear a word about any nuclear activities, even for peaceful purposes.

Their arguments are that even civil nuclear activities of whatever nature, have strong, negative impacts on the very lives and livelihoods of the Gulf peoples, from polluting waters and thus affecting the fish –which historically constituted an important source of living– to the risk of a nuclear accident.

The Bahraini stand is still valid and it applies to all the Gulf states, said to IPS this week a retired high governmental official. “None of us want to have to do with any atomic weapon. But you must understand our fears from both nuclear Israel and a potential nuclear Iran… We have to defend ourselves, protect our people.”

The Real “Security”

In an evident signal confirm their stand, the Bahraini capital, Manama, hosted a major anti-nuclear campaigners activity–the international exhibition “From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Towards a World Free from Nuclear Weapons”

Organised by the Tokyo-based non-governmental civil society association Soka Gakkai International (SGI), with the support of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), together with the Inter Press Service IPS and the UN Information Centre in Manama, and promoted by the Bahraini and Japanese ministries of foreign affairs, the exhibition was held in Manama from Mar. 12-23, 2013.

“Nuclear weapons – the most inhuman and destructive of all tools of war – are at the peak of a pyramid of violence in this increasingly interdependent world,” said anti-nuclear campaigners. “The threat of atomic weapons is not in the past… It is a major crisis today.”

“This exhibition –the first ever in an Arab country – (represents) a step further toward making the human aspiration to live in a world free from nuclear weapons a reality,” SGI’s executive director for peace affairs, Hirotugu Terasaki, told this journalist.

“The very existence of these weapons –the most inhuman of all– implies a major danger,” said Terasaki, who is also the vice president of this Buddhist organisation that promotes international peace and security, with more than 12 million members all over the planet.

Asked about the argument used by nuclear powers that the possession of such weapons is a major guarantee of safety and security – the so-called “deterrence doctrine” – Terasaki said, “The world should now move beyond this myth.”

According to the exhibition’s promoters, “Security” begins with basic human needs: shelter, air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat. People need to work, to care for their health, to be protected from violence.

These—and not nuclear bombs, are exactly the basic human needs that are lacking in Iraq, Libya, Palestine, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen… and more to come.

(End)

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Elections in Iran, a Test for the Regimehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/elections-in-iran-a-test-for-the-regime/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=elections-in-iran-a-test-for-the-regime http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/elections-in-iran-a-test-for-the-regime/#comments Mon, 22 Feb 2016 12:57:14 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143945 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 22 2016 (IPS)

Iran will hold two crucial elections on February 26, 2016, which could decide the fate of the Islamic Republic for many years to come. Earlier this month, Iranians celebrated the 37th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. During that period, the country experienced revolutionary upheavals, a disastrous eight-year war with Iraq that killed and wounded nearly a million Iranians, eight years of populist rule by a hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and crippling Western sanctions.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

Yet, despite all these crises and upheavals, not only has the Islamic Republic survived, it could be argued that Iran is now the most stable country in the region.

This year the election for the 290-seat parliament (Majles), which will serve for four years, coincides with the election of the 88-member Assembly of Experts, which has a eight year term. The Assembly of Experts is in charge of selecting the next Supreme Leader. The current leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is 76 and ailing, and the next Assembly will likely select his successor. In view of the importance of the role that the Supreme Leader plays in Iranian politics, the person who is chosen will decide the direction that the Nizam (the establishment) will take in the coming years.

At the moment, the country is split between the reformists and the moderates on one side, and the hardliners on the other. Whether the next parliament and more crucially the next leader are reformist or extremist will have a major impact on the course of Iran’s domestic and foreign policy. This is why the forthcoming elections are so critical.

There have been regular, if flawed, elections in Iran since the revolution, but the fairness of the elections has been compromised by the enormous power that the right-wing Guardian Council wields in vetting the candidates. The Supreme Leader appoints six clerical members of the Guardian Council, and the head of the Judiciary, who is appointed by Khamenei, appoints six jurists to the Council. Therefore, the Council acts as a rubber stamp for the wishes of the Supreme Leader and the clerical establishment.

On the eve of the forthcoming elections, the Guardian Council rejected the qualifications of the vast majority of reformist candidates, while the majority of the so-called ‘Principleists’, or right-wing extremists, have been allowed to contest the elections.

Initially, there were more than 12,000 candidates from the three main political movements, the hardliners, the reformists and the moderates. In total, about 6,200 candidates ¬ including 586 women ¬ have now been cleared to run, while the rest have been disqualified. Nine moderate parties issued a statement complaining that only 30 of the 3,000 reformist candidates had been allowed to run.

In the absence of organized political parties, anyone can put his or her name down for election. There is certainly a need for a body to vet the candidates and make the elections more manageable, but the problem with the Guardian Council is that it functions in a very partisan way.

In 2009 election, there was widespread support for the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Musavi, but the Guardian Council declared Ahmadinejad the winner, and Khamenei put his full support behind him. That controversial decision led to the biggest demonstrations and protests since the early days of the revolution, which were brutally put down. A number of protestors were killed, and hundreds, including the leaders of the Green Movement, were arrested and most of them are still either in jail or under house arrest.

The hardliners had hoped to repeat the success of their candidates in the last presidential election in 2013, but the rightwing candidate Saeed Jalili received only 11.3% of the vote. When Hassan Rouhani declared his candidacy, opinion polls put his popularity at only 5%, but an energetic campaign with the promises of greater freedoms at home and a policy of engagement with the West, brought more than 72% of the electorate to the polling stations, and he won in the first round with nearly 51% of the vote.

It was hoped that after the successful implementation of the nuclear deal with the P5+1, President Rouhani’s supporters would have greater success in the forthcoming election and that he would face a less hostile Majles. However, as the result of massive disqualifications of reformist candidates, the Guardian Council has dashed all those hopes.

Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson, Hassan Khomeini, who is a reformist and who had supported President Rouhani in the last election, has been barred from running for the Assembly of Experts, and Morteza Eshraqi, another grandson of the founder of the Islamic Republic, was prevented from running for Majles, as were former President Hashemi-Rafsanjani’s son Mohsen and daughter Fatemeh Hashemi.

These disqualifications have given rise to a great deal of anger and criticism. Speaking at a ceremony commemorating the anniversary of Khomeini’s return to Tehran on February 2nd, Hashemi-Rafsanjani criticized the Guardian Council’s decision to disqualify Hassan Khomeini. Rafsanjani said: “They disqualified the grandson of Imam Khomeini, who is the person who is closest to his grandfather.” Addressing the hardliners, Rafsanjani said: “Who has given you the right to judge others? Who has given you the right to take all the guns, have all the podiums, have Friday prayer platforms and radio and television?”

This criticism is extremely significant because it is not directed only at the Guardian Council but at the entire clerical establishment, and at the IRGC that holds all the guns. He is also indirectly criticizing the Supreme Leader who appoints the heads of the IRGC, the Friday prayer leaders and the head of the state-run broadcasting.

President Rouhani too strongly criticized the hardliners. Speaking on Tuesday 9 February, referring to the IRGC, Ruhani said: “If an organization possesses intelligence, weapons, money, newspapers, news agencies, and if other tools of powers were put altogether in the hands of one organization, even if they were saints they would become corrupted.” He said that if Iran wants to move forward, “we should get rid of monopolies and move towards real competition. The sanctions were not the only chains tying our hands. Bureaucracy is also a chain that we must remove from our hands one day.”

These strong criticisms of the Guardian Council, the IRGC and implicitly the Supreme Leader, show that the forthcoming elections are going to be tense. However, despite all these obstacles put in the path of the reformers, former reformist President Khatami, while expressing disappointment that “capable” and “deserving figures” have been disqualified, urged the people to vote because “your vote is your voice”.

At this election, there are around 53 million voters, 30% of whom are under the age of 30, and 70% under the age of 50. The balance of power in Iran has shifted to a younger, more cosmopolitan and more reform-minded generation. The forthcoming elections will set the stage for major changes in Iran.

(End)

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The Nuclear Deal Implementation Day: Can the Deal with Iran Survive Iranian and US Elections? (part three)http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-can-the-deal-with-iran-survive-iranian-and-us-elections-part-three/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-can-the-deal-with-iran-survive-iranian-and-us-elections-part-three http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-can-the-deal-with-iran-survive-iranian-and-us-elections-part-three/#comments Wed, 17 Feb 2016 10:23:30 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143909 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 17 2016 (IPS)

Although the implementation of Iranian nuclear deal has been welcomed by all those who had been involved in the negotiations as part of the P5+1, the deal has had many vociferous opponents.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

In the United States, the opposition to the Iranian deal has not stopped at verbal denunciation alone. Only one day after the January 16th announcement of the implementation of the deal, the US Treasury unveiled new sanctions on Iran on the excuse that Iran had tested Emad missiles in October, contrary to the Security Council resolutions. These sanctions are at least against the spirit of the nuclear deal as the US had pledged not to impose new sanctions on Iran. First of all, Resolution 2231 had rescinded all nuclear-related resolutions, and the nuclear deal has ensured that Iran has no nuclear weapons.

In December 2015, the US Congress passed a new law seeking to stop terrorists from traveling to the US. The law changed the rules of the visa waivers afforded to citizens of some 38 countries, including a provision that dual citizens from Syria, Iraq, Sudan and Iran or anyone who has visited any of those countries over the past five years must obtain a visa in advance, including an in-person interview, prior to visiting the US. This law would inconvenience many dual Iranian citizens and many other nationals who wish to travel to Iran on business or tourism, thus violating the provisions of the nuclear deal. Iran’s name was added to the list at the last moment as a pure act of hatred.

It is no wonder that many Iranian officials say that they do not trust the US. It is clear that such acts are not aimed at improving relations between the two countries and encouraging Iranians to have closer relations with the West.

However, Iran did not waste any time in making the best use of the nuclear deal. The unfreezing of Iranian assets, said to be worth about 100 billion dollars, will help the Iranian economy that has been suffering for years under crippling sanctions. Even before the formal Implementation Day, President Vladimir Putin travelled to Iran in November 2015, his first visit for ten years. The two sides signed many deals on economic cooperation. The Russian engineering company Tekhnopromexport will build a 1.4 GW thermal power plant in Iran and a desalination plant with a capacity of 200,000 cubic meters of water per day near the city of Bandar Abbas. Moscow will extend Tehran a government loan worth 5 billion dollars to cover the implementation of 35 priority projects in the fields of energy, construction, seaports, railway electrification, and others. A further 2 billion dollars in the form of export credits is due to be provided by Russia’s State Corporation Bank for Development and Foreign Economic Affairs. Victor Melnikov, head of the Iran-Russia Trade Council, said that the two countries could boost bilateral trade exchanges to 10 billion dolars in coming years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was the first foreign leader to visit Tehran following the lifting of international sanctions. During his two-day visit to Iran (22-23 January), the two sides agreed to raise the level of their bilateral trade more than tenfold, from 51.8 billion dollars in 2014 to600 billion dollars in the next 10 years. In an article on the eve of his visit to Iran, the Chinese President referred to the first Iranian delegation that had visited China more than 2,000 years ago, and he referred to the Silk Road that had connected those two ancient lands over many centuries. Presidents Rouhani and Xi oversaw the signing of 17 politico-economic agreements between the two countries worth tens of billions of dollars.

Perhaps even more important than the economic deals was Iran-China’s strategic partnership. The Chinese president confirmed his support for Iran to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Iran enjoys a unique geopolitical position, as a link between the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea, between Central Asia and the Caucasus, also linking China and India to Europe, thus acting as a hub for Eurasian integration.

During his visits to Italy and France (25-29 January), the Iranian president signed some 55 billion dollars in deals focused on the hydrocarbons, metals, transport, and automotive sectors. Unquestionably the biggest deal was Iran’s purchase of 118 Airbus planes, at a total cost of 25 billion dollars. Iran’s transport minister, Abbas Akhoundi, has remarked that Iran is in the market for some 400 medium and long-range planes, as well as 100 shorter-haul aircraft. He also said that Iran was open to deals with American aviation companies.

The wide range of deals across multiple industries highlights the overall appeal of the Iranian market to the world. Iran’s 80 million young and educated population, as well as Iran’s vast natural resources, have made it the biggest hope for the recovery of a sluggish European economy. Iran owns more than 7 per cent of the total global mineral reserves, ranking first in terms of proven gas and second in terms of oil reserves (fourth if shale oil is also taken into account). Iran also ranks first in the world in terms of zinc, 2nd in copper, 9th in iron, 10th in uranium and 11th in lead mines, as well as possessing 68 different types of minerals.

In addition to all its economic benefits, Europe also sees Iran as a major ally in the battle against ISIS. The world has moved on from the era of sanctions, which were on the point of collapse even prior to the nuclear agreement. It would be futile to try to reverse the global trend and to isolate Iran again. All that the attempts to isolate Iran would do is to push her further into the arms of the Russians and the Chinese, while most Iranians are strongly pro-Western and pro-American. There is a very large community of Iranian-Americans with a vast network of friends and relatives in Iran that could be used to bring Iran closer to the Western orbit. This asset should not be wasted.

It is time for US politicians to realize that past US policies in the Middle East have destabilized the region and have given rise to ISIS and other terrorist groups. They should turn a new leaf and make use of America’s soft power, rather than giving priority to military options and regime change.

(End)

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Views Split on Nuclear Deal Implementation (Part Two)http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/views-split-on-nuclear-deal-implementation-part-two/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=views-split-on-nuclear-deal-implementation-part-two http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/views-split-on-nuclear-deal-implementation-part-two/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:21:29 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143861 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan. Prior to that he was a Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. Currently he is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 11 2016 (IPS)

The implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal with the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) on January 16, which resulted in the lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iran, has split the views of current and former US politicians.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

Two days later 53 U.S. national security leaders issued a statement welcoming the implementation of the nuclear agreement. The council included some leading foreign policy experts, including former National Security Advisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski; Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, and Defense Secretary William Perry; Ambassadors Thomas Pickering, Ryan Crocker and Daniel Kurtzer; military leaders Admiral William Fallon, Admiral Eric Olson and Lieutenant General Frank Kearney; and members of Congress Richard Lugar, Tom Daschle and Lee Hamilton.

In their statement, they pointed out that the success of the agreement “had reaffirmed the value of diplomacy as an invaluable tool for conflict resolution.” They added that “new mechanisms for cooperation should be established between the executive and legislative branches to monitor compliance and evaluate suspected violations.” The views of such eminent national security leaders cannot be easily ignored.

Coinciding with the Implementation Day, there was a successful prisoner exchange, involving five Americans and seven Iranians. A few days earlier, Iran had released ten US sailors who had “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters, in less than 24 hours.

A few years ago, these events could not be envisaged and the holding of American sailors could have resulted in intense hostility and even military clashes; with possible disastrous consequences of another war in the Middle East with a country much larger and stronger than Iraq to appreciate what has been achieved by diplomacy at a much smaller cost. Now having established a reliable channel of communication between the two countries, it will be much easier in the future to persuade Iran to help resolve some of the intractable crises in the Middle East, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Libya; as well as the Arab-Israeli conflict.

This landmark agreement has shown how diplomacy can succeed when sanctions and military action fail. This provides an example for resolving other major crises in the Middle East and in the rest of the world. If two adversaries that had threatened each other for over 37 years are able to resolve their differences and extend the hand of friendship to each other, there is reason to hope that other complicated issues and crises in the world can also be resolved through persistent efforts, talks in an atmosphere of goodwill. Maybe one can begin to hope that the time of wars is coming to an end; making way for a new chapter in international relations.

However, the implementation of the Iranian nuclear agreement has not satisfied the hawks on neither side. On the Iranian side, the hardliners that control the Guardian Council, which vets the credentials of the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) candidates, has disqualified a large number of reformist candidates. The Guardian Council has even rejected the qualifications of Hassan Khomeini, the grandson of the founder of the Islamic revolution, as a candidate for the Assembly of Experts that is in charge of selecting the next Supreme Leader. Hassan Khomeini is regarded a reformist and in the controversial 2009 presidential election that resulted in a second term for President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, Khomeini had supported the Green Movement and the reformist candidates.

Many reformists fear that the hardliners wish to prevent President Hassan Rouhani from winning a second term, and in any case they will try to make his job much more difficult by the creation of a confrontational Majlis. Many candidates have appealed those rulings and some of the disqualifications may be reversed.

In the United States and Israel, the opposition to the nuclear deal has been strong and continuous. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reverted to his refrain about the deal, saying: “This is a very dangerous deal and it threatens all of us.” He appealed to American Jews to oppose the accord. One group of Jewish activists in Pittsburgh even warned that the deal would hasten a “Second Holocaust in Israel”, neglecting to mention that the deal had in fact blocked all the paths to Iran’s acquisition of even a single nuclear weapon, while Israel possesses hundreds of such weapons.

Immediately after the Implementation Day, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that it was “akin to declaring war on Sunni Arabs and Israel by the P5+1.” A number of Republican presidential candidates have even stated that they would not honor the deal. Senator Marco Rubio has threatened to tear the Iran deal up on day one if he were elected president. Iran’s ultimate goal, Rubio said, was to be able to “hold America hostage.” Senator Ted Cruz also echoed Rubio’s comments. During the September 2015 GOP debate he said: “If I am elected president, on the very first day in office, I will rip to shreds this catastrophic Iranian nuclear deal.”

Chris Christie strangely linked Iran’s nuclear deal with ISIS: “Well, I think we have to focus…on exactly what the priorities are. And to me, what I’ve always said is that the president has set up an awful situation through his deal with Iran, because what his deal with Iran has done is empower them and enrich them. And that’s the way ISIS has been created and formed here.” Another presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, is so scared of the implementation of the deal that he has said that it jeopardizes “the survival of Western civilization.” He continued, “this threatens Israel immediately, this threatens the entire Middle East, but it threatens the United States of America. And we can’t treat a nuclear Iranian government as if it is just some government that would like to have power.”

Despite all this hyperbole, all the experts who have studied the issue, the NIE, and above all the IAEA that has been closely monitoring Iran’s nuclear program agree that there has been no diversion of Iran’s nuclear program towards military uses. In his final assessment of the Iranian nuclear program, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano wrote: “The agency has found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”

It seems that some people prefer to resort to force in resolving international problems, rather than resolving them through talks and negotiations.

(End)

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Violence Is a Preventable Diseasehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/violence-is-a-preventable-disease/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=violence-is-a-preventable-disease http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/violence-is-a-preventable-disease/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 15:55:00 +0000 mairead-maguire http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143837 Mairead Maguire, a peace activist from Northern Ireland is a 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate ]]>

Mairead Maguire, a peace activist from Northern Ireland is a 1976 Nobel Peace Laureate

By Mairead Maguire
BELFAST, Feb 9 2016 (IPS)

The World Health Organization has said that ‘Violence is a preventable disease’ and people are not born violent, rather we all live in cultures of violence. This can be changed through nonviolent peacemaking and the persuit of ‘just peace’ and nurturing of cultures of peace.

Mairead Maguire

Mairead Maguire

In Northern Ireland for over thirty years we faced violence from all sides, as we lived in a deep ethnic/political conflict. This violence only ended when everyone acknowledged that militarism and paramilitarism could not solve our human problems, and only through unconditional, all inclusive dialogue and negotiations could we reach a political agreement based on nonviolence, forgiveness, compromise and cooperation. We spoke ‘to our enemies’ and made peace with them, because we recognized that without peace nothing is possible, and with peace, everything is possible. We also began to tackle the root causes of our violence, by painstakingly making policy changes. Today in Belfast, while it is good for all its citizens to live in a city at peace, we all acknowledge that our peace process is a work in progress and we must continue to work on justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.

This is a time when, I believe, Europe is at cross-roads and hard choices regarding policies and priorities have to be made. Today’s refugees and migration challenge has shown the best and the worst of European values, often beamed via television onto our screens. The best have been the compassionates response of some spiritual leaders such as Pope Francis and the people of Italy, government and political leaders, such as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, and millions of ordinary citizens across Europe, moving to help in any way they can the refugees, and migrants who have arrived from war torn countries.

The worst has been the fearology fuelled by negative forces which has resulted in an increase in racism, islamophobia, hate crimes and speech, and fascism in some European cities, hitherto known as cities of cultural diversity and tolerance. The stream of refugees andmigrants from Africa, Middle East and Asia, will continue pouring in to Europe, and the question is: what is the role of Europe and its citizens? I hope that Europe will continue to demonstrate compassion and offer to host those who are so desperate they had to flee all they loved in order to save their lives, or for a better life elsewhere.

The consequences of NATO/US policies of invasions and occupation is the destruction of Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and Yemen, to name but a few. A real question now to be asked by Europeans is: Do you want to continue being part of the perpetual wars of US and its most belligerent states of UK and Israel, and the militarization and nuclearization of Europe to continue?

All across the European Union (UE) young Europeans are travelling to other EU countries and further afield, trying to find jobs, and many continue to immigrate overseas. Austerity cuts, imposed by many European Union (UE) governments, are driving people deeper into poverty. In spite of this lack of jobs and falling In to poverty for many families, political leaders insist on governments policies, supporting foreign wars instead of human security of EU citizens, health care, education and the environment.

The British government has implemented austerity cuts which have devastated social services for many poor families and it is currently promising the renewal of the UK nuclear trident missile (these nuclear weapons, although on European soil, are in the control of the US government). This is all done in the face of millions of citizens protesting nuclear weapons and calling for a nuclear weapons free Britain and World.

Many governments in Europe are in denial that they are in a crisis but unless courageous policy reversals are implemented and more funding put into human security by dealing with unemployment and poverty, things will not change for the better for our societies in the forseeable futre. But we do not need austerity cuts, we live in a very rich world it’s just that we have got our priorities wrong!

Billions of Euros spent by NATO and Europe hosting war exercises, increases fearology, prepares people mentally for enmity and war, and lines the pockets of the rich, of arms manufacturers and war profiteers. In November 2015, while the worlds political leaders, and media, focused on the refugee crisis and the violence of illegal groups of Daesh (Islamic state) and other fundamental Islamic extremists, almost unknown to the civil community, as it was little reported, one of the great threats to the survival of humanity was taking place in Northern Europe, across three European states. Some 36,000 military troops, 200 fighter aircrafts and more than 60 warships carried out NATO’s biggest war games in 13 years.The military troops were from over 30 states.

They were carrying out war exercises preparing to fight together in battle groups if necessary in a war, which should it come to pass, would be a horror of horrors and one of the greatest crimes against humanity, a nuclear/conventional war on European soil, and spreading quickly across the world. The NATO (led by the US) has fought many illegal wars. They argue that it is necessary to fight terrorism and that it must defend its members from threats from the Middle East and North Africa.

The cold war propaganda against Russia continues and NATO by its expansionist and aggressive strategy has brought Europe to a situation similar to that of the Cold War causing a new dangerous confrontation with Russia.

I believe Europe (and indeed the world) must now ask the tough questions and make hard, brave and courageous choices: ‘Do we continue down the road of re-arming Europe and the World, and building a culture of militarism and war, creating enemy images and demonizing other countries and their leaders, implementing ‘regime change’ through bogus ‘right to protect’ military intervention, or do we choose to start disarming our conscience, hearts and minds, dismantling our weapons, ending militarism and war and implementing International law?’

Europe and the world needs a New Vision of Unity and Demilitarization of Regions, with power devolved to communities where people feel empowered and true democracy can be established. A demilitarized world is something we can all work together to build.

It is not an impossible dream, but begins with each one of us, choosing to live lives of nonkilling and nonviolence and building friendships between peoples and regions in order to cooperate as the human family on the problems we all need to deal with such as environment and poverty. We have imagination and genius and with confidence and trust in ourselves and each other, we can move away from nationalism and war, towards regional solutions built on demilitarized societies of peaceful co-existence ¬ we can and we must learn to live together in all our diversity. Peace Demilitarized and Devolved Democracy is possible and is a human right for all.

(End)

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The Nuclear Deal Implementation Day: A Win-Win Agreement (part one)http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-a-win-win-agreement-part-one-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-a-win-win-agreement-part-one-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/the-nuclear-deal-implementation-day-a-win-win-agreement-part-one-2/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 15:27:39 +0000 Farhang Jahanpour http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143828 Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford]]>

Farhang Jahanpour is a former professor and dean of the Faculty of Foreign Languages at the University of Isfahan and a former Senior Research Fellow at Harvard University. He is a tutor in the Department of Continuing Education and a member of Kellogg College, University of Oxford

By Farhang Jahanpour
OXFORD, Feb 8 2016 (IPS)

After many years of unprecedented, crippling Western sanctions that stopped Iran’s oil exports and even banking transactions, the long and arduous negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, France and Germany) culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed on 14 July 2015. That agreement finally reached the Implementation Day on 16th January 2016, coincidentally 37 years to the day when the late Mohammad Reza Shah left Iran for good and paved the way for the victory of the Islamic revolution.

Farhang Jahanpour

Farhang Jahanpour

In a Joint statement, the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, speaking for the European Union, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated:

“Today, we have reached Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Ever since Adoption Day, we worked hard and showed mutual commitment and collective will to finally bring the JCPOA to implementation. Today, six months after finalization of the historic deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran has implemented its nuclear related commitments under the JCPOA.”

On the same day, United Nations sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program were lifted, and the Security Council resolution 2231 (2015), which endorsed the JCPOA, terminated the provisions of resolutions 1696 (2006), 1737 (2007), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008), 1835 (2008), 1929 (2010) and 2224 (2015).

In order to reach Implementation Day, Iran had to carry out its part of the deal, which it did meticulously and ahead of the deadline. According to the JCPOA, Iran halted its production of uranium enriched to 20 per cent, removed the core of the heavy water reactor in Arak and filled the channels with cement, rendering it inoperable. Iran dismantled over 13,000 centrifuges, leaving the country with 6,104 first-generation IR-1 machines, of which 5,104 are enriching uranium to 3.67 percent, and 1,044 machines at the Fordow site will remain inoperative. Meanwhile, all of this has been carried out under strict IAEA supervision, which will also continue to closely monitor Iran’s future nuclear activities.

The Implementation Day coincided with the successful prisoner exchange, involving five Americans (including four dual citizens) held in Iran, in return for seven Iranians (including six dual citizens) who had been charged with violating US sanctions against Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry called it “one of the days that I enjoyed the most as secretary of state.”

A few days earlier, Iran had released ten US sailors who had “inadvertently drifted” into Iranian waters. Initially, it was said that the two boats travelling between Kuwait and Bahrain, equipped with three 50-caliber machine guns, had developed mechanical problems, or their GPS equipment had failed, or that they had run out of fuel, but later all those excuses were proven to have been incorrect. So far, US authorities have provided no satisfactory explanation as to how two US Navy ships had lost their way together and had ended up miles away in Iranian waters next to Farsi Island, a very sensitive Iranian naval base. Some Iranian hardliners saw it as a provocation and an attempt to spy on Iranian military installations.

It should be noted that Saudi Arabia executed the prominent Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr on the eve of Implementation Day. Al-Mimr’s execution led to attacks on the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, leading to Saudi Arabia cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran and forming a mainly Sunni coalition against that country. Some conspiracy theorists have wondered whether al-Nimr’s beheading and the US Navy ship that “drifted” into Iranian waters might have been a last-ditch effort by some of the opponents of the deal to derail the agreement.

Be that as it may, some hawks in Washington immediately accused Iran of aggressive behavior and called for harsh punishments. Sen. John McCain criticized what he called Iran’s “provocative behavior”. Sen. Cory Gardner even suggested that President Barack Obama had to postpone his State of the Union address until the sailors had been released. The columnist Charles Krauthammer seized on the incident to discredit the nuclear deal. He wrote: “The premise of the nuclear deal was that it would constrain Iranian actions. It’s had precisely the opposite effect.” However, the speedy release of American sailors disappointed the hawks on both sides and paved the way for closer cooperation between the United States and Iran.

President Obama rightly celebrated the combination of those events as the vindication of his efforts over the previous years. In a Sunday 17 January 2016 statement at the White House, the President said: “This is a good day, because once again we’re seeing what’s possible with strong American diplomacy.” The President touted his administration’s efforts at diplomacy and advancing relations between the two adversaries, “rather than resorting to another war in the Middle East”.

Obama also pointed to the speedy release of the U.S. sailors as more evidence of the benefits of diplomacy. “Some here in Washington said this was the start of another hostage crisis,” Obama said, referring to some Republicans in Congress. “Instead we secured their release in less than 24 hours.”

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, speaking almost simultaneously with President Obama, said that the official implementation of the landmark deal had satisfied all parties except radical extremists. He said the deal had “opened new windows for engagement with the world.”

He described the deal as a win-win agreement for all negotiating parties and all factions inside Iran and in the West: “Nobody has been defeated in the deal, neither inside the country nor the countries that were negotiating with us.”

The agreement has provided the best example of the resolution of one of the most difficult international issues through negotiations and without resorting to war, which would have had a devastating outcome for the region and beyond. Indeed, it can serve as a model for the resolution of other difficult conflicts such as the civil wars in Syria, Yemen and Libya and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

(End)

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After 20 Years, Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Still in Political Limbohttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/after-20-years-nuclear-test-ban-treaty-still-in-political-limbo/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=after-20-years-nuclear-test-ban-treaty-still-in-political-limbo http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/02/after-20-years-nuclear-test-ban-treaty-still-in-political-limbo/#comments Thu, 04 Feb 2016 17:58:05 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143792 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS , Feb 4 2016 (IPS)

After nine years in office, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will step down in December perhaps without achieving one of his more ambitious and elusive political goals: ensuring the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

“This year marks 20 years since it has been open for signature,” he said last week, pointing out that the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) – the fourth since 2006 — was “deeply destabilizing for regional security and seriously undermines international non-proliferation efforts.”

Now is the time, he argued, to make the final push to secure the CTBT’s entry into force, as well as to achieve its universality.

In the interim, states should consider how to strengthen the current defacto moratorium on nuclear tests, he advised, “so that no state can use the current status of the CTBT as an excuse to conduct a nuclear test.”

But how close – or how further away– are we from the CTBT coming into force?

Jayantha Dhanapala, a member of the Group of Eminent Persons appointed by the Executive Secretary of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), told IPS: “The CTBT was widely acclaimed as the litmus test of the sincerity of nuclear weapon states in their commitment to nuclear disarmament. The concrete promise of its conclusion was among the causes that led to the permanent extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995 under my Presidency.”

He said the fact that this important brake on the research and development of the most destructive weapon invented is not in force is ominous as relations between the major nuclear weapon states – the US and the Russian Federation who hold 93% of the weapons between them – deteriorate with no dialogue across the divide.

Huge sums of money are being spent on modernisation of the weapons and extremist groups practising barbaric terrorism may acquire them adding to the existential threat that the weapons pose, said Dhanapala, a former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs.

John Hallam, Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner with People for Nuclear Disarmament and the Human Survival Project, told IPS he has, over the years, suggested a number of possibilities for entry into force of the CTBT, including a ‘group of friends’ (governments) declaring that, for them, the CTBT has already entered into force.

Once such group of governments could constitute a comfortable General Assembly (GA) majority in a resolution cementing this in some sense, he added. Possibly at a later stage, he said, one could put up a GA resolution simply declaring that it is now in force. Period.

“I understand fully that such approaches are likely to encounter resistance from non-ratifiers. However the pressure would then be on them to ratify. And a majority should not be bound by the tiny minority of holdouts however influential,” said Hallam.

“And it is an idea I have been gently suggesting in a number of quarters for a number of years,” he pointed out.

The CTBT, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly back in 1996, has still not come into force for one primary reason: eight key countries have either refused to sign or have held back their ratifications.

The three who have not signed – India, North Korea and Pakistan – and the five who have not ratified — the United States, China, Egypt, Iran and Israel – remain non-committal 20 years following the adoption of the treaty.

Currently, there is a voluntary moratoria on testing imposed by many nuclear-armed States. “But moratoria are no substitute for a CTBT in force. The four nuclear tests conducted by the DPRK are proof of this, Ban said.

In September 2013, a group of about 20 “eminent persons” was tasked with an unenviable job: convince eight recalcitrant countries to join the CTBT.

Under the provisions of the CTBT, the treaty cannot enter into force without the participation of the last of the eight key countries.

Addressing the UN’s Committee on Disarmament and International Security last October, Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, said it was necessary to reignite the spirit of the 1990s and go beyond the “business-as-usual” approach of recent years.

“It was necessary to further disarmament, because they would lead the process and see it through. Operationalizing the CTBT would greatly increase the capacity of the international community to address proliferation and advance prospects for those weapons’ eventual elimination”.

In the current millennium, he pointed out, there had only been one county (DPRK) that had violated the moratorium on nuclear testing. “Action was still needed to secure the future of the Treaty as a firm legal barrier against nuclear testing and the nuclear arms race,” he said.

He said nuclear weapons and nuclear testing had a dangerous and destabilizing impact on global security, as well as a negative impact on the environment. More than $1 billion had so far been invested in the most sophisticated and far-reaching verification regime ever conceived.

Significant national security decisions were made in good faith, with the expectation that the Treaty would become legally binding, in line with international law. Countries should finish the job done by experts, he added.

“The challenges of disarmament and non-proliferation required bold ideas and global solutions, as well as the active engagement of stakeholders from all corners of the world. Equally important was building capacity among the next generation of experts, who would carry the endeavours forward,” Zerbo declared.

Hallam told IPS whatever multilateral initiative is adopted, something has got to be done that does an end run around entry-into-force conditions in the text of the treaty, that are, almost impossible ever to satisfy. They have to be in some way short-circuited.

He said that other alternatives must be sought, and that” we should be creative in doing so.”

“I think the CTBTO is already doing a splendid job (and specifically that Lassina Zerbo is doing a great job in promoting it), and this fact already stands it in good stead.”

It would be important to ensure that raw data from the CTBTO sensor network is readily and quickly available to the research community – not just the nonproliferation community but others who might be interested such as geophysicists and climate researchers, not to mention tsunami warning centres, he added.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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North Korea Momentarily Escapes Sanctions After Fourth Nuclear Testhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/north-korea-momentarily-escapes-sanctions-after-fourth-nuclear-test/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=north-korea-momentarily-escapes-sanctions-after-fourth-nuclear-test http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/north-korea-momentarily-escapes-sanctions-after-fourth-nuclear-test/#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2016 19:35:52 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143635 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Jan 19 2016 (IPS)

When the UN Security Council (UNSC) adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea — immediately following its first nuclear test back in 2006 — Pyongyang described the punitive measure as “an act of war.”

A visibly angry North Korean ambassador, Pak Gil Yon, walked out of the chamber dismissing the resolution as a “gangster-like” act by the 15 members in the Council.

The outspoken John Bolton, then US ambassador to the United Nations, described North Korea’s defiance as “the contemporary equivalent of (Soviet leader) Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe” on his desk at the General Assembly hall to demand his right of reply during the height of the Cold War in October 1960.

But there was no such political drama in the chamber – at least not yet – following North Korea’s fourth nuclear test early January.

So far, North Korea has conducted four tests — in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016 – and every one of them in defiance of the international community.

“This was a destabilizing act that violates Security Council resolutions and imperils collective security,” declared UN Secretary-General (UNSG) Ban Ki-moon.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said North Korea is the only country in the world that has tested a nuclear weapon in the 21st century – not once, but four times.

“It is also the only country in the world that routinely threatens other UN member states with nuclear attacks”.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters: “We will be working with others on a resolution on further sanctions.”

Still, despite threats of new sanctions and punitive measures against North Korea, the UN Security Council (UNSC) remains deadlocked – primarily due to China’s opposition to sanctions— nearly two weeks after the test.

The only action of the Security Council was to unanimously condemn the test as “a clear violation of (past) resolutions.. and of the non-proliferation regime.”

At the United Nations, sanctions are known to bite – but resolutions? No.

Some of the past sanctions on North Korea include mostly commercial and weapons shipments and blacklisting of specific companies and individuals.

The US and the Western world, which are notorious for their double standards, are willing to go after Iran with a vengeance – even though the Iranians said they were developing nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons—but ignore and accept Israel as a virtual nuclear power in the Middle East.

There has always been less virulent opposition to North Korea (also known as the Democratic Republic of North Korea or DPRK) because its nuclear weapons are not a threat to Israel.

North Korea has pointed out that the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ouster of Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi, were perhaps facilitated by one fact: none of these countries had nuclear weapons.

“And that is why we will never give up ours,” a North Korean diplomat was quoted as saying.

Alice Slater. an Advisor with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and who serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War, told IPS “it’s hypocritical to continue to sanction North Korea, when we’ve sabotaged so many of the peace negotiations with them over the years.

“We keep insisting on our right for our nuclear deterrent, and improving it and offering its protection in our alliance to countries like Japan, Australia, and South Korea as well as to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) states.”

“I think North Korea is using its “deterrent” to get our attention for resuming negotiations for a resolution to the Korean War, which ended in 1953 with only an armistice and 30,000 US troops still stationed there, as well as to end the crippling sanctions that has impoverished their nation,” she said.

“I don’t think the UN resolutions make sense. What about the UN resolution to prevent an arms race in space, put forth by Russia and China which the US blocks, and the need to reinstate the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) so that the US and Russia can really negotiate for nuclear disarmament that will bring everyone else along, including North Korea?,” Slater asked.

John Hallam, Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner with People for Nuclear Disarmament and the Human Survival Project, told IPS: “I guess if I were UNSG or any one of the delegates at the UNSC, I’d be somewhat cynical over the likely effectiveness of any resolution.

“What will be the mechanisms of enforcement, other than those used so far without success?”, he asked.

“However I simply can’t imagine the UNSC not trying in some way to sanction the DPRK, nor would I suggest that they refrain from sanctioning it. “

“What I would hope however is that the UNSC look at those of its own membership who have massive programmes aimed at refurbishing their own nuclear deterrent forces – forces that have tens of thousands of times the kick of those of the DPRK and whose existence does indeed imperil humans as a species, as the Oslo, Nayarit and Vienna conferences made quite clear.”

He said much depends on how toughly worded are UNSC resolutions, and on what its enforcement mechanisms are.”

“However my instinctive gut feeling is that nothing but nothing will deter the DPRK from further tests. “

“I think the probability of yet more tests and of missile tests also is very high, and neither action by the UNSC nor actions taken by the individual members of it will make the slightest difference”, said Hallam.

In an oped piece in Counterpunch, Slater wrote: “This latest terrifying and dreadful underground nuclear test by North Korea should be a warning to the United States and the other nuclear weapons states, that the longer we continue to modernize and cling to our nuclear arsenals and promote a nuclear deterrence policy which promise catastrophic threats of nuclear retaliation if attacked, the more additional countries will be seeking to get their own “deterrent”, just as North Korea has done creating ever greater threats of accidental or deliberate nuclear disaster.”

She pointed out that “It is telling that at the same time we made the deal with Iran to rein in their “peaceful” nuclear power program and secure their enriched uranium in Russia, we promised “peaceful” nuclear reactors to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Turkey so they too will have their bomb in the basement.”

“It cannot have escaped the notice of North Korea that after Saddam Hussein’s nuclear programme was ended after the first Gulf War, and Muammar Ghadafi voluntarily gave up his nuclear weapons programme, one wound up dead in a hole in the ground and the other in a sewer pipe.”

The only way to control the further spread of nuclear weapons and future catastrophic nuclear disaster, is for the US and the other nuclear nations — Russia, UK, France, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan — to give up their nuclear weapons and negotiate a treaty for the total abolition of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international monitoring and control.

“Unfortunately, this won’t happen until the two nuclear behemoths at the table, the US and Russia, who now have 15,000 of the 16,000 nuclear weapons on the planet agree to do this,” declared Slater.

Hallam said: “I am quite sure the DPRK views a real nuclear capability as its survival ticket, and to some extent they are correct.”

Of course the irony is that nuclear weapons will do absolutely nothing to protect them against their own people if they decide to revolt. But as of now there are no signs of that, he said.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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TAIWAN: Polls Harken End of Nuclear Powerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power/#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2016 13:51:11 +0000 Dennis Engbarth http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=143575 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/01/taiwan-polls-harken-end-of-nuclear-power/feed/ 0 U.N. Plans New Working Groups Aimed at Nuclear Disarmamenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/u-n-plans-new-working-groups-aimed-at-nuclear-disarmament/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=u-n-plans-new-working-groups-aimed-at-nuclear-disarmament http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/10/u-n-plans-new-working-groups-aimed-at-nuclear-disarmament/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2015 23:56:07 +0000 Thalif Deen http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=142828 By Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Oct 28 2015 (IPS)

Against the backdrop of a potential military confrontation between the world’s two major nuclear powers – the United States and Russia – the United Nations is taking a significant step towards a hitherto impossible goal: nuclear disarmament.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (front row, centre right) poses for a group photo with this year’s participants of the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme. On his right is Kim Won-soo, Acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (front row, centre right) poses for a group photo with this year’s participants of the United Nations Disarmament Fellowship Programme. On his right is Kim Won-soo, Acting UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs. Credit: UN Photo/Evan Schneider

The 193-member General Assembly, through its Committee on Disarmament and International Security (also known as the First Committee), is expected to establish an open-ended working group — or possibly two such groups — to deliberate or negotiate on effective measures for nuclear disarmament.

One of the draft resolutions, currently in circulation, calls for the Working Group to convene in Geneva in 2016, as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly and under its rules of procedure.

The Working Group is expected to submit a report, reflecting the negotiations and its recommendations, to the General Assembly at its 71st session in September next year.

This draft resolution, sponsored by Mexico, has several co-sponsors, including Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ghana, Liechtenstein, Ireland, Malta, Nigeria, the Philippines and South Africa.

A second draft resolution, sponsored by Iran, calls on a second Working Group to transmit its report to the U.N.’s high level international conference on nuclear disarmament to be held no later than 2018, and to the Conference on Disarmament and the Disarmament Commission.

John Burroughs, Executive Director of the New York-based Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told IPS: “The relevant resolutions are still under negotiation.”

This development, he said, builds on the momentum created by the 2013 open-ended working group to develop proposals for multilateral negotiations; the 2013 and 2014 conferences on humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons in Oslo, Nayarit, and Vienna; and the draft final document of the May 2015 NPT Review Conference.

“Regardless of the short-term output of a new working group, its operation would definitely be positive because it would keep the momentum going and create an opening for further steps.”

The United States, he pointed out, has shifted its position from its opposition to the 2013 working group, saying that it would support a new working group, though it insists on a consensus procedure and says that a working group should explore all effective measures (e.g. verification) for nuclear disarmament, not negotiate legal measures.

Which other members of the Permanent Five — including Britain, France, China and Russia — will come out, remains to be seen, he added.

“But the U.S. shift is a sign that the environment is changing for the better,” said Burroughs, who is also Director of the U.N. Office of International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms.

Jackie Cabasso, executive director of the Western States Legal Foundation, one of the strongest advocates of nuclear disarmament, told IPS that all resolutions forwarded from the Committee on Disarmament and International Security are overwhelmingly adopted each year by the General Assembly, which is not bound by consensus.

This year, she pointed out, the General Assembly is expected to establish an open ended working group (open to all 193 member states) to take forward proposals to implement nuclear disarmament.

She said a statement made Oct. 21 by a coalition of over 135 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 19 countries has an unequivocal message: “We call on (member) states to stop fiddling while Rome burns.”

In a statement endorsed by the 135 organizations, Cabasso told the First Committee the nuclear-armed countries are edging ever closer to direct military confrontation in conflict zones around the world, from Ukraine to Syria and the broader Middle East to the Western Pacific.

“The danger of nuclear war is growing again on a scale measured in months or years,” she said.

And those who rule in the nuclear-armed states appear comfortable approaching disarmament on a time scale measured in generations — and show no interest in taking up the task again anytime soon.

The coalition that endorsed the statement includes Global Action to Prevent War, International Peace Bureau, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Soka Gakkai International, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Project Ploughshares, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, Israeli Disarmament Movement, Swedish Peace Council, Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, CODE PINK, Western States Legal Foundation and Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, among others.

Aaron Tovish, International Director, 2020 Vision Campaign, and Mayors for Peace, told IPS: “Given the ongoing abuse of the consensus rule in the Conference on Disarmament, already back in 2006, Mayors for Peace began promoting the creation of a working group that would operate under U.N. General Assembly rules of Procedure.”

He said the 2013 Open-Ended Working Group on ‘Taking Forward Multilateral Negotiations on Nuclear Disarmament’ was a successful, albeit too short, exercise.

“It is most timely to revive the Working Group with a stronger mandate.”

“I see nothing wrong with having working groups being held in both Geneva and New York next year. Each venue has strengths and weaknesses, so those prepared to work for nuclear disarmament in good faith, should be willing to contribute to both venues” he added.

Tovish also said: “We are just at the beginning of getting full-fledged negotiations (on establishing a Nuclear Weapons-Free World) underway, so it is too early to be prejudging which way forward will be most productive. It is conceivable that a good division of labour could be agreed upon for two (or more) forums.”

In her statement, prepared by Andrew Lichterman on behalf of the coalition, Cabasso said: “No amount of tinkering with the disarmament machinery can turn it into a vehicle for disarmament progress when those in the driver’s seat have no intention of moving forward.”

She said the new round of conflicts and confrontations, and the resumption of arms racing, are driven by those who have the power to shape policy in the nuclear-armed states.

“Primary responsibility for the continued scourge of industrialized warfare world-wide lies with the military-industrial complexes and national security state elites at the apex of the global war system, and those in the United States above all.”

Cabasso said nuclear-armed states account for three quarters of global arms exports; the United States and Russia together for over half.

They provide the kinds of weapons that turn local, low-intensity conflicts into industrial-scale wars that fragment societies, destroy vital infrastructure, and destabilize entire regions.

She said these human catastrophes are used to justify competing armed interventions that raise the stakes even higher, with nuclear-armed militaries operating in close quarters in proxy confrontations that easily could spiral out of control.

A small fraction of humanity benefits in the short run from these high stakes competitions; all of us bear the risk, she declared.

The writer can be contacted at thalifdeen@aol.com

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