Dortmund, Germany

(The Campaign is member of the Abolition 2000 Network and consists of 42 German organisations.)

On the 11th and 13th May of this year India has conducted nuclear test explosions, followed suit by Pakistan detonating nuclear devices of their own on the 28th and 30th May. The design of the devices and the according statements of the respective governments confirm previous suspicions that India and Pakistan are now both to be counted among the nuclear armed states. Both states have weapons systems at their disposal well capable of delivering nuclear warheads.

The Trustees’ Committee of the Campaign “Abolish Nukes – Start with Ourselves” states the following position on this issue:

We categorically disapprove of the possession, storage and use, including testing, of weapons of mass destruction as well as the threat of their use, no matter what the rationale for justifying otherwise. We specifically make reference to the legal assessment by the International Court of Justice who declared in July 1996: The use of and the threat to use nuclear weapons constitute a general violation of international law.

In contrast to the statements issued by the established nuclear powers USA, France, Russia, Great Britain, and China we do not confine our criticism to India and Pakistan as if these two were the only ones suddenly in possession of nuclear weapons in this world. Rather do the nuclear powers and some of the non-nuclear states allied with them share responsibility that India and Pakistan were able to acquire the appropriate nuclear and weapons technologies with which they now have turned into nuclear armed states on their own. Furthermore are we not satisfied with purely demanding that India and Pakistan immediately now sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty because

  • nuclear weapons would neither be dismantled nor outlawed
  • the treaty does not ban computer simulated and sub-critical testing of nuclear weapons
  • only two of the long standing-nuclear armed states, France and Great Britain, have ratified the treaty, leaving doubts about the seriousness of the intentions of the remaining three states.

We see absolutely no chance of success in demanding that India and Pakistan sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty now, knowing that both have refused to do so for decades.

Alarming Situation in South East Asia

Nevertheless, we see at the same time that the decade old volatile situation on the Indian subcontinent has arrived at an extremely dangerous boiling point, now that all the parties in the immediate geographic vicinity – China, India and Pakistan – are capable to launch nuclear weapons. Admittedly, the respective governments in New Delhi and Islamabad have issued assurances to consider their atomic weapons “only” for a defensive role and not for a nuclear first strike. Yet, we are deeply concerned for several reasons:

1. History has taught us that “defence” is a term that lends itself for some heavy stretching. The reason is that the trigger event for military defence action is subject to the subjective perception and judgement of one party. This holds particularly true if a conflict has already extremely escalated as in the case of the Kashmir region. It applies even more so with antagonists who like the current governments of India and Pakistan are locked in a deep rooted animosity towards each other’s ideological and here particularly religious beliefs. The capacity to rationally assess the intentions of the respective other is dangerously degraded by one’s own pattern of perception.

2. A defence concept that encompasses nuclear weapons, even if it is as yet only a declared intention, means nothing less than that the opponents are entering the hazard level of nuclear warfare. We do not – even with a public denial of first-use intentions provided – share those notions of security that consider a system based on nuclear deterrence a stabilising factor.

3. The precarious economic situations in India as well as Pakistan constitute a major factor of internal destabilisation for both. The adverse effects could still increase drastically if even more resources urgently needed for economic recovery were to be diverted to an already overdimensioned military budget. The Indian government has already gone ahead and decided to increase military spending with the Pakistani government expected to follow suit.

4. Should the international economic sanctions imposed against both India and Pakistan start to take effect things will go from bad to worse. Both countries may feel driven towards compensatory arrangements which may have, for example, Pakistan transfer nuclear arms technology and the corresponding weapons systems to Iran. This, in turn, could trigger a chain reaction in the Near and Middle East which would on the one hand immediately bring the de facto nuclear power Israel into the nuclear gamble and on the other hand also inspire more states in the region to rise to nuclear power status.

5. The ramifications of trying to establish a balance of nuclear deterrence between India and Pakistan would be fatal and destabilising not only for the states directly afflicted but would reach beyond the confines of the region: a chain reaction of newly arising nuclear states and more nuclear arms racing in other regions would be the likely results.

The Global Connection

The entire problem is aggravated by the fact that so far no effort is being made to turn to appropriate mechanisms or institutions for conflict solving. A key reason for that is rooted in the attitude of the former nuclear monopolist states:

  • by enforcing an indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995 those states have made an effort – proved futile now by India and Pakistan – to divide the world into two classes of states: those who have nuclear weapons and those who do not, where the former five preferred to have the privilege of exclusive membership in the first group reserved for themselves. That was one of the reasons for India and Pakistan, who liked to see complete nuclear disarmament negotiated, not to join the treaty. The position of the established nuclear powers was duly reflected at the Preparatory Committee Meeting for the next NPT Review Conference where it was particularly the USA which saw to it that the motion of a great number of member states to make far-reaching disarmament steps an imperative were blocked.
  • To safeguard their previous nuclear arms monopoly the USA have developed a “Counterproliferation Strategy” intended to keep others from obtaining nuclear weapons and including as a last resort even the threat of nuclear punishment. NATO has adopted something similar for itself. At the same time NATO will not definitely rule out that nuclear weapons may under certain circumstances (subject to definition by NATO) be stationed on the territories of its new and future member states. Notwithstanding, all NATO member states have ratified the NPT.
  • Ever since the Warsaw Pact was disbanded the previous nuclear monopolist states have not acted to seize the political opportunities that arose out of the collapse of the confrontation between the two antagonistic systems. Case in point is the START II agreement designed to cut down the nuclear long range arsenals of Russia and the US. Not even this treaty could be implemented because the Russian parliament has not ratified it yet. Even after the International Court of Justice in its already referred to assessment has clearly ruled nuclear weapons a clear violation of international law and at the same time assigned a collective responsibility for nuclear disarmament to all states, there was as little reaction from the nuclear powers as there was to the resolution of last year’s UN-General Meeting demanding to start negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention. Arriving at the same conclusion, the currently convening Conference on Disarmament in Geneva states clearly that the former nuclear monopolist powers pursue a policy of refusal on the subject of disarmament, especially evident in their refusal to approve of an ad hoc committee of this sole UN body on disarmament which would deal directly with the issue of nuclear disarmament.
  • This policy goes along with efforts to modernise one’s own nuclear weapons systems. The dismantling of obsolete systems in favour of modernisation is often sold as “disarmament” whereas the sub-critical tests performed for instance by the USA after (!) having ratified the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty clearly indicate modernisation. An important point to remember is that the existing nuclear weapons remain on alert status and that NATO and Russia both uphold a nuclear first strike option under their respective military strategies.
  • The present demands that India and Pakistan enter immediate negotiations on mutual nuclear disarmament remain untrustworthy and thus dishonest as long as those demanding are themselves not willing to put their own nuclear stockpiles up for disposal in multilateral negotiations. Likewise contradictory remains a type of attitude exhibited by India’s leadership who on the one hand keep urging repeatedly for total global disarmament as Indian governments have been doing for decades now, but on the other hand believe in backing their demands by achieving equal footing with the nuclear monopolist powers.

It is obvious now that the NPT is not an effective means to stop nuclear proliferation and achieve a total disarmament down to zero. This treaty is not capable to provide a cornerstone for global security as it leaves the five formerly established nuclear powers unaffected and does not safeguard against the possibility of conducting nuclear developments for military purposes under the cover of civilian programmes. In a disturbing manner the current events in India and Pakistan demonstrate once more how urgent and imperative it is to take action well beyond what the traditional approach of a supposed non-proliferation policy suggests is necessary.

A New Nuclear Disarmament Policy

As we principally stand up for a different understanding of security policy and a comprehensive ban of all nuclear weapons we know ourselves in the company not only of hundreds of non-governmental organisations worldwide like those working together in the “Abolition 2000” network but in the company of a great many of governments as well.

We are convinced that any kind of security concept has to measure up to the criteria of sustainability. From this follows clearly that in the nuclear age security can no longer be defined in purely military terms. Security in our terms refers to a secure prospect for human beings for a humane and unthreatened existence and not to the well-being of military structures and ‘defence’ contractors. In view of the severe escalation of the international situation it is not productive to come up with ambitious schemes with only long-term prospects of realisation without offering short-term concepts for immediately extinguishing the smouldering nuclear fire.

1. India and Pakistan have followed the lead of the nuclear five. The five have to consider this anytime they direct demands and suggestions at India and Pakistan. This means in concrete terms: any steps demanded from Pakistan and India must likewise be achieved by the nuclear five themselves, otherwise any such suggestions are bound to fail.

2. There were will be no meaningful way avoiding bloodshed out of this crisis unless the nuclear five immediately initiate some dramatic changes in their nuclear military policies: as first steps towards restoring their international credibility they should unconditionally lift the alert status off their nuclear armed units and they should jointly issue a statement bound by international law to drop for an unlimited time all options of a nuclear first strike.

3. As permanent members of the UN Security Council the nuclear five share a special responsibility. Concerning the situation on the Indian subcontinent this responsibility demands that these members of the Security Council develop a system of mutual, non-nuclear political security assurances to offer India and Pakistan a way to reverse their mutual threat mechanisms step-by-step. Picking up on the concept of the Asian Regional Security Forum (ARF) of the ASEAN member states the objective should be to develop a security concept tailored to the specific situation in South Asia along the lines of the OSCE and under premium participation of all parties involved (no “imposing” of concepts). This model should be based on the principles of dialogue, confidence building measures, and mutual non-military security assurances. Economic sanctions constitute a violation of these principles: they have to be lifted immediately.

4. The very issues of controversy focusing on the Kashmir region urge to bring in the United Nations and the International Court of Justice as mediators. Concrete objective must be to establish a regional security constellation that offers everybody involved more gain from a political settlement than from further military, – and perhaps even nuclear – action.

5. Along with it, the political dimension of disarmament strongly suggests a fundamental break in the military nuclear policies of the established as well as the recent nuclear armed states. Otherwise, the latest developments, having led to the emergence of two new nuclear powers, may encourage other nuclear ‘threshold’ states to follow the path taken by India and Pakistan. As a short-term prospect to set the stage for truly preventive negotiations we urge to immediately approve of setting up an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament at the UN Conference on Disarmament. The need to start such negotiations is now more pressing than ever.

6. Both Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and NPT have to be revised accordingly. The first treaty is scheduled for reviewing in 1999, the second one in the year 2000. On that occasion the Test Ban Treaty should have amendments added to it to outlaw computer simulated and subcritical testing. The revised treaty should be ratified by all signatory states until 1999. The disarmament obligation in article VI of the NPT has to be fulfilled in compliance with a definite time-bound frame down to zero.

7. Following the lead of already existing treaties, the prospects for setting up zones free of weapons of mass destruction need to be put on the agenda for negotiations. Predisposed areas are in the Near and Middle East including the still undeclared nuclear state Israel, in Central Europe, and on the Indian subcontinent.

8. All negotiating approaches must navigate along definite and binding timetables.

Demands on German Politics

We advise the forthcoming (*) German government bound to be elected in the fall of this year to start in advance to re-evaluate the foundations of the previous security policy. We are not content making a general reference that we expect the future German government to evaluate the above proposed alternative concepts in an affirmative and constructive manner. We ask the next German government outright to provide a timetable with specific deadlines for:

  • eliminating the nuclear capacity of the German armed forces with suitable conversion actions and abandoning the principle of “Nuclear Sharing”
  • expelling all nuclear weapons still located on German soil for return to their respective countries of origin
  • principally outlawing both the use and the utilisation of weapons-grade and highly enriched uranium granting no exemptions for research
  • making a strong case against the separation of plutonium off spent fuel rods and its use in reactors
  • pushing for a revision of the NATO treaty using its leverage as a NATO member state to definitely deny NATO any option to station nuclear weapons on the territories of new or future member states
  • making a strong argument using its weight as a leading EU- and WEU member state to have no nuclear elements included in the future European “Common Foreign and Security Policy” (CFSP)
  • promoting setting up a “Central Europe Nuclear Weapons Free Zone ” backed by binding treaties.

We are fully aware that German federal governments have on too many occasions in the past ignored the peace promoting non-military proposals and demands of non-parliamentarian forces. We are calling attention to the fact that at the same rate as the economic and social conditions deteriorate any government grows more dependent on a consensus on security policy with the very people who have voted them into office. The levels of military expenditure disproportionate to any conceivable threat and based on an outdated understanding of security have made it clear to anybody willing and able to see: there is no consensus on security policy. As far as nuclear weapons are concerned this has been impressively confirmed by a FORSA survey commissioned by the German chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). The results published on the 2nd June 1998 indicate that 87% of those questioned like to see the nuclear armed states “getting rid of their own nuclear weapons as soon as possible”, 93% consider nuclear weapons an outright violation of international law and another 87% share the view that nuclear weapons stationed on German soil “ought to be removed right away”.

The German Federal Government should jointly with other non-nuclear states launch an initiative in the United Nations to push for the immediate start of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.

Since a sustainable concept of security cannot be reduced to the sole issue of nuclear weapons we advise the next German government to establish a national “Round Table on Alternative Security”. This forum should have forces both inside and outside the administration and independent scientists working together to design a new security policy consensus for Germany that will replace military concepts of security with a civilian understanding of security aligned along the real needs of people.