The Non-Proliferation Treaty has never been in greater danger, and along with it the people of the world. The cavalier attitudes of the nuclear weapons states toward fulfilling their Article VI promises of nuclear disarmament, have stretched their credibility to the breaking point. A sober evaluation of the progress on the 13 Practical Steps for Nuclear Disarmament, agreed to at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, shows virtually no progress and some serious steps backward on the part of the nuclear weapons states, led by the United States.
In support of the NPT and its Article VI obligation to achieve nuclear disarmament, many leading world figures have joined together in an Appeal to End Nuclear Weapons Threat to Humanity and All Life, a project initiated by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. The Appeal has now been signed by many prominent leaders of our time, including Jimmy Carter, Mikhail Gorbachev, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the XIVth Dalai Lama, Queen Noor of Jordan, Coretta Scott King and Muhammad Ali. Among its signers are 38 Nobel Laureates, including 14 Nobel Peace Laureates.
More than ten years after the end of the Cold War, the US and Russia each continue to deploy some 7,000 strategic nuclear weapons, and together keep some 4,500 of these on hair-trigger alert, ready to be fired in moments. The United States is withdrawing from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to build missile defenses and extend its military domination of the earth through the weaponization of outer space. Thirteen nuclear capable countries, including the United States and China, have yet to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
The recent US Nuclear Posture Review reveals that the US is planning to develop nuclear weapons that will be more useable and is developing contingency plans for such use against at least seven countries, including five non-nuclear weapons states. The US has also announced disarmament plans that will place large numbers of deactivated nuclear weapons in storage, thus making the “disarmament” process rapidly reversible.
In addition to the unprincipled behavior of the nuclear weapons states, making nuclear proliferation as well as accidental and intentional nuclear war more likely, the risks of nuclear terrorism are increasing. These are not issues solely for some countries or regions. They are issues on humanity’s agenda, and that agenda is best taken up within the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and by the international community as a whole.
As the Appeal starkly states, “The only way to assure that nuclear weapons will not be used again is to abolish them.” We urge the delegates to the 2002 NPT PrepCom, and the leaders of the countries they represent, to join together in acting for all life, present and future, in setting forth a practical plan to bring nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control and to begin negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention in order to fulfill the Non-Proliferation Treaty promise of eliminating these weapons completely. Grave risks are inherent in failing. We appeal to you, on behalf of humanity and all life, to accept this responsibility and to do the utmost to eliminate these ultimate weapons of annihilation.
David Krieger, President
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation