The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension Conference in April and May 1995 provided an opportunity for the nuclear weapons states to commit themselves to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. These states, however, were unwilling to make this commitment, and were intent only on the indefinite extension of the NPT.
Many citizen action groups gathered at the Conference viewed the position of the nuclear weapons states on indefinite extension as the equivalent of an indefinite extension of the status quo, one that provided special nuclear status to the five declared nuclear weapons states (U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China). These citizen action groups from throughout the world formed themselves into an Abolition Caucus. From this Caucus came the Abolition 2000 Statement calling for “definite and unconditional abolition of nuclear weapons.”
This Statement became the founding document of the Abolition 2000 Network. This Network has now grown to over 600 citizen action groups on six continents. These groups are actively working in ten working groups to accomplish the 11-point program. The Statement is set forth below.
Abolition 2000 Statement
A secure and livable world for our children and grandchildren and all future generations requires that we achieve a world free of nuclear weapons and redress the environmental degradation and human suffering that is the legacy of fifty years of nuclear weapons testing and production.
Further, the inextricable link between the “peaceful” and warlike uses of nuclear technologies and the threat to future generations inherent in creation and use of long-lived radioactive materials must be recognized. We must move toward reliance on clean, safe, renewable forms of energy production that do not provide the materials for weapons of mass destruction and do not poison the environment for thousands of centuries. The true “inalienable” right is not to nuclear energy, but to life, liberty and security of person in a world free of nuclear weapons.
We recognize that a nuclear weapons free world must be achieved carefully and in a step by step manner. We are convinced of its technological feasibility. Lack of political will, especially on the part of the nuclear weapons states, is the only true barrier. As chemical and biological weapons are prohibited, so must nuclear weapons be prohibited.
We call upon all states particularly the nuclear weapons states, declared and de facto to take the following steps to achieve nuclear weapons abolition. We further urge the states parties to the NPT to demand binding commitments by the declared nuclear weapons states to implement these measures:
1) Initiate immediately and conclude by the year 2000 negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Abolition Convention that requires the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a timebound framework, with provisions for effective verification and enforcement.*
2) Immediately make an unconditional pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.
3) Rapidly complete a truly comprehensive test ban treaty with a zero threshold and with the stated purpose of precluding nuclear weapons development by all states.
4) Cease to produce and deploy new and additional nuclear weapons systems, and commence to withdraw and disable deployed nuclear weapons systems.
5) Prohibit the military and commercial production and reprocessing of all weapons-usable radioactive materials.
6) Subject all weapons-usable radioactive materials and nuclear facilities in all states to international accounting, monitoring, and safeguards, and establish a public international registry of all weapons-usable radioactive materials.
7) Prohibit nuclear weapons research, design, development, and testing through laboratory experiments including but not limited to non-nuclear hydrodynamic explosions and computer simulations, subject all nuclear weapons laboratories to international monitoring, and close all nuclear test sites.
8) Create additional nuclear weapons free zones such as those established by the treaties of Tlatelolco and Raratonga.
9) Recognize and declare the illegality of threat or use of nuclear weapons, publicly and before the World Court.
10) Establish an international energy agency to promote and support the development of sustainable and environmentally safe energy sources.
11) Create mechanisms to ensure the participation of citizens and NGOs in planning and monitoring the process of nuclear weapons abolition.
A world free of nuclear weapons is a shared aspiration of humanity. This goal cannot be achieved in a non-proliferation regime that authorizes the possession of nuclear weapons by a small group of states. Our common security requires the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Our objective is definite and unconditional abolition of nuclear weapons.
* The Convention should mandate irreversible disarmament measures, including but not limited to the following: withdraw and disable all deployed nuclear weapons systems; disable and dismantle warheads; place warheads and weapon-usable radioactive materials under international safeguards; destroy ballistic missiles and other delivery systems. The Convention could also incorporate the measures listed above which should be implemented independently without delay. When fully implemented, the Convention would replace the NPT.
The Abolition 2000 Statement was a major achievement of the citizen action groups supporting the elimination of nuclear weapons at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. It has provided a point of focus and agreement for these citizens groups from throughout the world.
The 11-point program to be implemented by the nuclear weapons states is discussed below.
1. Initiate immediately and conclude by the year 2000 negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Abolition Convention that requires the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a timebound framework, with provisions for verification and enforcement.
Entering into a Nuclear Weapons Convention by the year 2000 is the key point in the Statement. This doesn’t mean that all nuclear weapons will be eliminated by the year 2000. It means that the commitment to their total elimination will be made in the form of a treaty, similar to the treaties that have outlawed biological weapons (Biological Weapons Convention, 1972) and chemical weapons (Chemical Weapons Convention, 1995) by the year 2000. The opportunity should not be missed to begin the new millennium with a commitment to a nuclear weapons free world. The year 2000 is a turning point for humanity, a point by which we should leave behind us forever the threat of nuclear annihilation.
In a footnote to the Abolition 2000 Statement, some direction for the proposed Convention is provided: “The Convention should mandate irreversible disarmament measures, including but not limited to the following: withdraw and disable all deployed nuclear weapons systems; disable and dismantle warheads; place warheads and weapon-usable radioactive materials under international safeguards; destroy ballistic missiles and other delivery systems. The Convention could also incorporate the measures listed above [that is, points 2 through 11 of the Statement] which should be implemented independently without delay. When fully implemented, the Convention would replace the NPT.”
Joseph Rotblat, the 1995 Nobel Peace Laureate, has been calling for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, similar in form to the Chemical Weapons Convention, for many years. In his Nobel Lecture, he argued, “Entering into negotiations does not commit the parties. There is no reason why they should not begin now. If not now, when?”1
The nuclear weapons states did not begin negotiations toward a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons in 1995. Instead, they succeeded in having the Non-Proliferation Treaty extended indefinitely with very few conditions. It is not too late, however, to complete negotiations for a new treaty by the year 2000. We must encourage them to begin; we must demand that they begin. As Professor Rotblat states with simple eloquence: “If not now, when?”
Professor Rotblat continued his Nobel Lecture with an appeal to the nuclear weapons states: “So I appeal to the nuclear powers to abandon the out-of-date thinking of the Cold War and take a fresh look. Above all, I appeal to them to bear in mind the long-term threat that nuclear weapons pose to humankind and to begin action towards their elimination. Remember your duty to humanity.”2
2. Immediately make an unconditional pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.
It has been argued by distinguished military leaders and security analysts that nuclear weapons have no other purpose than to deter a nuclear attack.3 If nuclear weapons states accept this position, then it should not be difficult for them to make a pledge not to be first to use nuclear weapons. If all states agreed not to use nuclear weapons first, this would be equivalent to a pledge not to use these weapons. Yet, at present, only China has made an unconditional pledge not to use nuclear weapons first.
A similar point was also made by Professor Rotblat in his Nobel Lecture. “Several studies, and a number of public statements by senior military and political personalities, testify that except for disputes between the present nuclear states all military conflicts, as well as threats to peace, can be dealt with using conventional weapons. This means that the only function of nuclear weapons, while they exist, is to deter a nuclear attack. All nuclear weapons states should now recognize that this is so, and declare in Treaty form that they will never be the first to use nuclear weapons. This would open the way to the gradual, mutual reduction of nuclear arsenals, down to zero.”4
The Abolition 2000 Statement calls for nuclear weapons states to go beyond a no first use pledge, and make an unconditional pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons. However, even if nuclear weapons states would agree to an unconditional “no first use” pledge, that would be an important step forward.
3. Rapidly complete a truly comprehensive test ban treaty with a zero threshold and with the stated purpose of precluding nuclear weapons development by all states.
The nuclear weapons states promised a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty. This promise was made again in the non-binding agreement that supplemented the decision to extend the NPT indefinitely in 1995. This agreement committed the nuclear weapons states to completing a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by 1996. On September 10, 1995 the CTBT was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, and was opened for signatures on September 24, 1956. It has been signed by over a hundred countries including the five declared nuclear weapons states. India, however, has said that it will not sign the Treaty until the nuclear weapons states commit themselves to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, and India’s ratification of the Treaty is required for the Treaty to enter into force.
The Treaty agreed upon will still allow for laboratory and sub-critical tests. Thus, it cannot be expected to be fully successful in “precluding nuclear weapons development by all states.” To do this, the Treaty would have had to go beyond prohibiting underground nuclear weapons tests, and have prohibited testing in all environments, including the nuclear weapons laboratories.
4. Cease to produce and deploy new and additional nuclear weapons systems, and commence to withdraw and disable deployed nuclear weapons systems.
In the Non-Proliferation Treaty the nuclear weapons states promised to pursue good faith negotiations for a cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date. Clearly, to produce and deploy new and additional nuclear weapons systems at this point would be in violation of that promise. It would also be unnecessary and provocative. The nuclear weapons states have already begun the process of withdrawing and disabling nuclear weapons systems. Missiles have been removed from their silos, and destroyed with much fanfare. This process needs to continue, and should not be undermined by the deployment of any new or additional nuclear weapons systems.
5. Prohibit the military and commercial production and reprocessing of all weapons-usable radioactive materials.
Far too much weapons-usable nuclear material already exists in the world. It takes only a few pounds of plutonium to produce a nuclear weapon, and perhaps 20 pounds of highly enriched uranium. While the required amounts of weapons-grade plutonium or highly enriched uranium needed to make nuclear weapons can be measured in pounds, the stockpiles of these materials can now be measured in metric tonnes.
As of 1990, globally there was some 250 metric tonnes of plutonium in the military sector, of which 178 tonnes was in nuclear warheads. There was some 1300 metric tonnes of highly enriched uranium in the military sector, including 810 tonnes in warheads. In the civilian sector, there was over 600 metric tonnes of plutonium and 20 tonnes of highly enriched uranium. Of the civilian sector plutonium, 532 tonnes was in spent reactor fuel, and thus not readily converted to weapons use without reprocessing.5
A study by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War pointed out that “Operation of nuclear power plants is rapidly increasing the world’s stocks of civilian plutonium. The cumulative stock of plutonium discharged from reactors worldwide is projected to reach about 1,400 metric tonnes at the end of the year 2000 and about 2,100 metric tonnes at the end of 2010.”6
If we are to have any hope of ending the nuclear weapons era, we must gain control of all weapons-grade radioactive materials. The first step in doing this is to halt the production and reprocessing of such materials. To be effective, this must be done in both the military and civilian sectors.
6. Subject all weapons-usable radioactive materials and nuclear facilities in all states to international accounting, monitoring, and safeguards, and establish a public international registry of all weapons-usable radioactive materials.
To end the nuclear weapons era, all weapons-usable nuclear materials must be accounted for, monitored, and protected against diversion. The study by the International Physicians on this subject stated, “Present arrangements for controlling fissile material are clearly inadequate. They place no limits on any of the fissile material activities of the nuclear-weapons states. They limit the civilian fissile material activities of some small and relatively weak states on a discriminatory, ad hoc basis, while allowing more powerful states to accumulate large amounts of fissile material.”7
To be effective in controlling weapons-usable fissile materials, all states must be subject to international accounting, monitoring, and safeguards. The most powerful states, including the nuclear weapons states, can no longer reserve for themselves the special “privilege” of keeping their nuclear weapons materials outside the bounds of international inspections and controls.
7. Prohibit nuclear weapons research, design, development, and testing through laboratory experiments including but not limited to non-nuclear hydrodynamic explosions and computer simulations, subject all nuclear weapons laboratories to international monitoring, and close all nuclear test sites.
To stop the further development of new nuclear weapons systems will require an end to researching, designing, developing and testing nuclear weapons in every way, including in laboratory experiments. When the French conducted a series of nuclear tests in the South Pacific in 1995 and early 1996, the reason they gave for doing so was to gather information for future laboratory tests. The U.S. has said all along that it is planning to conduct non- nuclear tests and, in fact, is planning to spend many billions of dollars in building new, sophisticated, and expensive equipment for future nuclear testing. The only way to close this loophole is by international agreement and international monitoring of nuclear weapons laboratories and test sites. The test sites themselves should be closed down. The former Soviet test site in Kazahkstan, and the French test site in Polynesia have both been closed. The only remaining test sites are in Novaya Zemlya (Russia), Lop Nor (China) and Nevada (U.S. and Britain).
8. Create additional nuclear weapons free zones such as those established by the treaties of Tlatelolco and Raratonga.
Since the Abolition 2000 Statement was adopted in April 1995, nuclear weapons free zones have been established for Southeast Asia and Africa. Following the completion of a series of six French nuclear weapons tests on the Pacific atolls of Moruroa and Fangataufa, the U.S., U.K. and France have all agreed to abide by the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. A treaty signed in December 1995 by Southeast Asian countries declares an area stretching from Myanmar to the west, Philippines in the east, Laos and Vietnam in the north and Indonesia in the south as a nuclear free zone. The Treaty of Pelindaba, signed in Cairo in June 1996, made Africa a nuclear weapons free zone. These zones, covering most of the Earth’s southern hemisphere, prohibit the development, manufacturing, acquisition, possession, testing, use or threat of use of nuclear weapons within the designated areas. What they have not prohibited is transit of nuclear weapons by submarines and surface ships through international waters in their regions.8
9. Recognize and declare the illegality of threat or use of nuclear weapons, publicly and before the World Court.
On July 8, 1996, the International Court of Justice in the Hague rendered its opinion on the illegality of nuclear weapons.9 The Court concluded that “the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles of humanitarian law.” It also declared that “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.”
The Court found, however, that in “view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal,” that it was unable to reach a definitive conclusion with regard to “an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a state would be at stake.” Thus, the Court left open only the slimmest possibility of an exception to the general illegality of threat or use of nuclear weapons.
Based on the Court’s decision, Commander Robert Green, a retired Officer of the British Royal Navy and a member of the World Court Project that promoted the World Court decision, said, “With this remarkable decision, I could never have used a nuclear weapon legally. This places a duty on the military to review their whole attitude toward nuclear weapons, which are now effectively in the same category as chemical and biological weapons.”
10. Establish an International Energy Agency to promote and support the development of sustainable and environmentally safe energy sources.
One of the important missing agencies in the international system is an International Sustainable Energy Agency that promotes and supports development of sustainable and environmentally safe forms of energy. The sun provides a virtually inexhaustible source of energy. Further development of the technology to harness the sun’s energy in a cost-effective manner must become a major international priority as well as technologies to develop wind, tidal, and biomass resources. An International Sustainable Energy Agency could oversee these efforts.
If such an Agency succeeds in its mission, it will not be necessary for states to rely upon the continued use of energy from nuclear reactors, thereby eliminating a major source of the radioactive materials that endanger human and other life forms and that could be reprocessed for use in the creation of nuclear weapons.
11. Create mechanisms to ensure the participation of citizens and NGOs in planning and monitoring the process of nuclear weapons abolition.
Citizens and non-governmental organizations have a role to play in planning and monitoring the process of eliminating nuclear weapons. This is not a job for governments alone. Citizens and citizen action groups have been active and creative in calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. There will undoubtedly be ways in which individual citizens and groups of citizens can play a role in advancing the cause of a nuclear weapons free world.
The President of the NPT Review and Extension Conference, Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala of Sri Lanka, praised the work of NGOs in that Conference and called for a more active role by these groups in the three preparatory meetings leading up to the next NPT Review Conference in the year 2000.
Citizen groups from all over the world could begin now to inventory all nuclear materials in their country or region, thereby educating themselves about local hazards and providing a genuine service to the international community.
The Nuclear Weapons Convention working group of the Abolition 2000 Network has been meeting to draft a treaty that takes into consideration all of the elements enumerated in the Abolition 2000 Statement.
Joseph Rotblat has called for an active role for citizens from throughout the world in monitoring compliance with a Nuclear Weapons Convention. In addition to technological verification of compliance, he has called for what he calls “societal verification.” Professor Rotblat has the following to say about “Societal verification”:
As the name implies, all members of the community would be involved in ensuring that a treaty signed by their own government is not violated. The main type of societal verification is what we call `citizen reporting.’ Underthis, every citizen would have the right and the duty to notify an office of theinternational authority in the country about any attempt to violate the treaty. In order to be effective, this right and duty would have to be written into the national law of the country.
“We propose that whenever we have an international treaty but particularly relating to nuclear weapons it should contain a specific clause demanding that all the signatory states enact this type of law, and so make it the obligation of the citizens to carry out this task. We believe that this would be particularly effective in the case of nuclear weapons, partly because people instinctively abhor nuclear weapons, and partly because in almost every country there are anti-nuclear campaigns. We are convinced there will be enough people in every country who will make sure that the treaty is not being violated.10
The Statement concludes, “A world free of nuclear weapons is a shared aspiration of humanity. This goal cannot be achieved in a non-proliferation regime that authorizes the possession of nuclear weapons by a small group of states. Our common security requires the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Our objective is definite and unconditional abolition of nuclear weapons.”
This conclusion juxtaposed the demand of the nuclear weapons states for an indefinite and unconditional extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty with the need for a definite and unconditional commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons. The nuclear weapons states prevailed at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in getting an indefinite extension of the Treaty. Whether the initiators of the Abolition 2000 Statement will prevail in attaining the “definite and unconditional abolition of nuclear weapons” will depend upon how many committed individuals throughout the world will work together to achieve this goal.
The Abolition 2000 Statement provides a guideline for actions to be taken to achieve the elimination of nuclear weapons. The primary responsibility for taking these actions lies with the nuclear weapons states, but the responsibility for assuring that the nuclear weapons states take these actions lies with citizens. Each of us has a role to play.
1. Rotblat, Joseph, “The Nobel Lecture Given by the Nobel Peace Laureate 1995 Joseph Rotblat,” The Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, 1995.
3. See, for example, “A Four-Step Program to Nuclear Disarmament” by the Henry L. Stimson Center, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 52, No. 2, March/April 1996, pp. 52-55.
The report states: “The only necessary function for nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear threats to the population and territory of the United States, to U.S. forces abroad, and to certain friendly states.”
Members of the Stimson Center project include General Andrew J. Goodpaster, General William F. Burns, General Charles A. Horner, and General W. Y. Smith.
4. Rotblat, Op. cit.
5. Albright, David, Frans Berkhout, and William Walker, World Inventory of Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1992, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 197.
6. Thompson, Gordon, “Opportunities for International Control of Weapons-Usable fissile Material,” International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, ENWE Paper #1, January 1994, p. 7.
7. Thompson, op. cit. p. 10.
8. See, Krieger, David, “Denuclearization of the Oceans: Linking Our Common Heritage with Our Common Future,” Global Security Study, No. 21, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, March, 1996.
9. Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice, “Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” July 8, 1996.
10. Rotblat, Joseph, “The Feasibility of a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World,” Global Security Study, No. 16, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, August 1993.