In 1955, fifty years ago and ten years after the harsh inception of the Nuclear Age at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein issued an appeal, known as the Russell-Einstein Manifesto. It is the last public document signed by Einstein before his death. In addition to Russell and Einstein, the document was signed by nine other prominent scientists. The appeal warned that powerful new nuclear weapons raised the possibility of “universal death” in an all-out war, and called for the renunciation of war itself. “Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” The appeal concluded: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.”
Over the ensuing decades of the Cold War and beyond it, many scientists and citizens throughout the world have grown complacent in the face of continuing nuclear dangers. The Cold War may have ended in the early 1990s, but nuclear dangers to humanity have not abated. In some respects, the dangers have increased. Among the scientists who have banded together to educate the public and offer constructive solutions to the nuclear dangers that threaten humanity are those who are or have been associated with the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (Pugwash) and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES).
Many scientists have been involved in both organizations. Pugwash, which grew directly from the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, began in 1957 and has tended to work in more closed circles of scientists in the hopes of being viewed by governments as more trustworthy. Pugwash shared the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize with its founder, Sir Joseph Rotblat. INES, by contrast, which was established at a large scientific meeting in Berlin in 1991, has been far more open to interactions with other civil society organizations and with the general public. One of the principal aims of INES has been to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons. This aim has been carried out by an extraordinarily dedicated group of scientists, engineers and experts in the INES project, the International Network of Scientists and Engineers Against Proliferation (INESAP). In the remainder of this article, I will discuss INESAP’s activities that have sought to move beyond the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other efforts to halt proliferation and to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
INESAP was formed in 1993 by three young German scientists: Wolfgang Liebert, Martin Kalinowski and Juergen Scheffran. From its inception, the network focused on the central issue of the Nuclear Age: achieving total nuclear disarmament. The principal objectives of INESAP are “to promote nuclear disarmament, to tighten existing arms control and non-proliferation regimes, [and] to implement unconventional approaches to curbing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to controlling the transfer of related technology.”
The founding conference of INESAP took place in Germany in August 1993, and was entitled, “Against Proliferation: Towards General Disarmament.” Some 50 scientists, engineers and other experts from 20 countries participated. In 1994, INESAP established a Study Group on non-proliferation, called “Beyond the NPT,” referring to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The work of the Study Group led to the publication of a document in early 1995, “Beyond the NPT: A Nuclear Weapon-Free World.” The document was prepared by some 50 authors from 17 countries, including soon-to-be Nobel Peace Laureate Joseph Rotblat.
Among the conclusions of this study were that the Non-Proliferation Treaty was insufficient to control nuclear proliferation, and that the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of this treaty should be followed by multilateral negotiations to achieve a Nuclear Weapons Convention. The document proposed that the parties to the treaty, along with the few states still outside the treaty, should begin immediate negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention, a framework treaty for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The Executive Summary of “Beyond the NPT” stated, “In its Final Document the NPT Review and Extension Conference should, in its call for decisive steps towards a NWFW [nuclear weapons-free world], include a mandate for the Conference on Disarmament to start negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC). The pattern has to be that which has already been set by the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) – a total ban.”
The 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference was held at United Nations headquarters in New York. It was one of the most important meetings in the then 25-year history of treaty and may turn out to be one of the significant events of the Nuclear Age, with broad implications for the future of civilization. At issue during the conference was whether the treaty should be extended indefinitely or for periods of time. The United States and other nuclear weapons states were strong supporters of indefinite extension, their goal being to prevent nuclear proliferation while maintaining the two-tier structure of nuclear “haves” and “have-nots.” Many civil society organizations, along with some non-nuclear weapons states, argued against indefinite extension on the basis that it would be like giving a blank check to parties (the nuclear weapons states) who were notorious for overdrawing their accounts and could not be trusted to keep their promises.
The essential bargain of the NPT was that non-nuclear weapons states would not develop or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, and the nuclear weapons states would cease the nuclear arms race and engage in good faith negotiations for nuclear disarmament. From the perspective of the non-nuclear weapons states, the treaty was never meant to establish permanent nuclear double standards, making nuclear weapons acceptable for the small minority while prohibiting them to the vast majority.
INESAP was a leader among the civil society organizations at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference pressing the point that preventing proliferation was not sufficient and that it was necessary to move expeditiously toward a nuclear weapons-free world. In cooperation with other leading international organizations, INESAP sponsored a two-day forum on the abolition of nuclear weapons, based upon its study, “Beyond the NPT: A Nuclear Weapon-Free World.” The INESAP forum provided an opportunity to present a variety of proposals on how to attain a nuclear weapons-free world and for civil society representatives from around the world to debate strategies for moving forward.
The NPT Review and Extension Conference ended with a victory for the nuclear weapons states and a sound defeat for humanity. The treaty was extended indefinitely with no further requirements that the nuclear weapons states fulfill their obligations under the treaty to achieve nuclear disarmament. Having achieved the indefinite extension of the treaty, the nuclear weapons states showed no inclination to proceed with negotiations for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, as INESAP had proposed.
The outcome of the NPT Review and Extension Conference created a strong reaction by civil society organizations and an increased determination among them to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. INESAP and other civil society groups coalesced to form Abolition 2000, a global network for the abolition of nuclear weapons, which has now grown to over 2,000 organizations and municipalities throughout the world.
In 1996, a year after the conclusion of the NPT Review and Extension Conference, civil society organizations played a significant role in bringing the issue of the legality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the world’s highest court. The ICJ issued an opinion in which the court unanimously declared: “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 international control.”
By 1997, INESAP, along with two other important international organizations – the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) – put forward a comprehensive text for a Model Nuclear Weapons Convention. The text, relying heavily on the technical information provided by INESAP, provided for a system of societal and technical verification that would make it possible for the nuclear weapons states to fulfill their obligation under international law for the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. This would not only make the world far safer, but would be the only truly effective way to assure against nuclear proliferation. The Model Nuclear Weapons Convention was introduced to the United Nations as a discussion paper by Costa Rica in 1997.
Since then, INESAP has continued its efforts to promote a Nuclear Weapons Convention. In a 1999 Briefing Paper (No. 7/1999), it explored the question, “Has the Time Come for the Nuclear Weapons Convention?” During that same year, INESAP continued its collaboration with IALANA and IPPNW in producing a book: Security and Survival: The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. In the year 2000, INESAP put out an edited book on Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The book, emphasizing scientific expertise, provides analysis of the deadlock in achieving progress on the elimination of nuclear weapons and on the means of overcoming the obstacles.
The Model Nuclear Weapons Convention has provided a basic tool for the global nuclear abolition movement. It has been used over the years by Abolition 2000 and its constituent organizations as an example of how countries, if they had the political will to do so, could proceed toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. Most recently, the model convention has been used by the Mayors for Peace, led by the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in their Emergency Campaign to Ban Nuclear Weapons. This campaign calls for negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention to commence in 2005, to be completed by 2010, and for the elimination of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.
In 2000, INESAP organized a workshop entitled “Abolition of Nuclear Weapons” at the Stockholm Congress of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility. Intensive discussions at this meeting gave rise to a new INESAP program, initiated in cooperation with the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, to explore the control and elimination of missile technologies for warlike purposes. The project, Moving Beyond Missile Defense, has held four international conferences over the past five years, in Santa Barbara, Shanghai, Berlin and Hiroshima, focusing on regional and global issues of nuclear disarmament and missile control.
Einstein warned, “The splitting of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and thus we drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.” The scientists, engineers and other experts associated with INESAP have worked to bring about such a change in thinking. They have exemplified a commitment to social responsibility by raising their voices to warn of continuing dangers and by using their scientific and technical expertise to propose solutions to the gravest danger confronting humanity. They carry on in the tradition of truth and courage exemplified by Albert Einstein.
David Krieger is the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org), and the Deputy Chair of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (www.inesglobal.org). He is a leader in the global effort to abolish nuclear weapons.