Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"Hiroshima survey on nuclear weapons," Beyond Nuclear Bulletin.

The Hiroshima Peace Media Center, based in Hiroshima, Japan, is appealing to the global community to complete a survey on public opinion regarding nuclear weapons. In July, the G8 Summit will be held in Hokkaido, Japan and in September, the G8 Summit of Lower House Speakers will be held in Hiroshima. Nuclear proliferation will be one of the key issues addressed at the G8 Summit while peace and disarmament will be the main theme of the Speakers Summit. The Peace Media Center is gathering views on nuclear proliferation, nuclear disarmament, and nuclear abolition and will report the results to the participants of both summits. The Center asks that we respond “so that the G8 leadership will hear the will of the world’s people.”

Beyond Nuclear expresses the view that "It’s essential that the G8 countries receive a loud and clear message that nuclear weapons serve no purpose and that the world demands they be eliminated."

Click here to fill out and submit your views.

This questionnaire has plenty of room for comments. For what it's worth, here is part of my response:

The US under Bush has followed a provocative nuclear policy, abrogating the ABM Treaty and touching off a new round of nuclear weapons design and expanded deployments (so-called missile defense). While all the weapons states have made more than token reductions to their arsenals, these have been accompanied by the developments mentioned above stimulated in the west by terrorism and in Russia and China by both terrorism/separatism and by the US missile defense deployment. The nuclear weapons states have set poor examples and cannot truly be said to have lived up to their NPT commitments. They HAVE gone beyond mere tokenism, but they do not demonstrate any commitment to a clear plan that would eliminate nuclear weapons--and that is their obligation under the treaty.

Israel, India, and Pakistan further aggravate the bad examples set by the nuclear weapons states (Cause 1). Making a bad situation even worse, the US adopts differing types and degrees of acceptance toward each. Toward Israel it turns a blind eye; toward India it offers to end its boycott and to treat India as a "responsible nonproliferator," even though Indian companies provided dual use products to Saddam Hussein for his nuclear program, for instance; Pakistan it vilifies for developing nuclear weapons while it depends on them for the war in Afghanistan and supplies advanced fighter-bomber aircraft that are capable of delivering nuclear weapons. This isn't a double standard. It is raw opportunism, racism and a militaristic version of self-interest that has criminal consequences for large populations and leads directly to Cause 3.

The scientific principles required to design and build nuclear weapons are not difficult to master. It is to be expected that non-state and "deep state" groups will develop nuclear weapons capability that is well beyond the scope or influence of international agreements or democratic institutions. Unfortunately, this third likelihood is being taken as the operative reality and as an excuse for ignoring the primary responsibility of the US and the other nuclear weapons states. It is no solution at all to devlop anti-terrorist military units. What has to happen is for the US to become a good example, something completely unprecedented where nuclear weapons are concerned. The real problem is that Uncle Sam is afraid of his own shadow--and that could have devastating consequences.

Nuclear deterrence was insane (mutually assured destruction = MAD), but it clearly worked. That doesn't mean that it is the only way that could have worked.

I think it will face the demise of the NPT. A lot will depend on what the new US administration does between now and then, but much damage has already been done to a regime that was in some jeopardy even before Bush. If the US doesn't change its imperial and militaristic ways (unlikely), I think more countries (including Japan) will be looking at ways to develop their own arsenal. For practical people, the disarmament model is being replaced by the NRA model. That's the National Rifle Association which takes the position that everyone is safer if everyone is armed. I think it would take inspired and inspiring leadership to turn that trend around.

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