10 August 2015

Too long to live in fear

Seventy years ago, on August 6, 1945, the United States unleashed the most massive terror attack in history when it dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. At least 75,000 people died within hours. By December, 1945, around 140,000 were dead; 200,000 by the end of 1950. Today, the world contains an estimated 17,000 nuclear warheads, each with a destructive power dwarfing the Hiroshima bomb. Ninety per cent lie in wait in Russian and U.S. stockpiles.

Some nuclear powers have reduced their arsenals in recent years, but others are expanding theirs and all are upgrading their weapons. The five who signed the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968 agreed 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.” They are clearly reneging.

Furthermore, five non-nuclear NATO nations have volunteered to equip their militaries with the capacity to deliver U.S. nukes in time of war even though they are all parties to the NPT and therefore obliged “not to receive the transfer from any transferor whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”

The historic deal with Iran is good news but it pales relative to the upgrading and expansion of arsenals possessed by the current nuclear powers.

In 2010, the House of Commons unanimously passed a resolution encouraging the Government of Canada to join “negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention” and to “deploy a major world-wide Canadian diplomatic initiative in support of preventing nuclear proliferation and increasing the rate of nuclear disarmament.” This election season is a good time to remind all the parties that they voted for this resolution.

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