ABOLITION 2000 PROGRESS REPORT CARD
UNITED NATIONS DAY: OCTOBER 24, 1998.
For the last two years, we have issued an Abolition 2000 report card in October, assessing progress toward a nuclear weapons free world. For the third year, we pause again to take stock of the state of the Nuclear World, and of efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Looking at this year's events in the context of the Abolition 2000 Statement offers a simple way to make such an evaluation. This Report Card offers a brief assessment of progress in the past year in the implementation of the 11 points of the Abolition Statement. We offer it on United Nations Day, October 24, to recall the initial promise of the UN Charter: "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war," keeping in mind our future descendants, knowing that the elimination of nuclear weapons will go far in fulfilling our promise to them.
1) Immediately initiate 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.
Report: In November 1997, Costa Rica submitted to the United Nations a draft Nuclear Weapons Convention (treaty) to abolish nuclear weapons, which was originally crafted by an Abolition 2000 working group of lawyers, scientists and activists. In February of this year, over 100 former or current heads of state, and civilian leaders from around the world, released a statement calling for de-alerting nuclear weapons and other measures aimed at nuclear abolition. In Dublin, on June 9, eight nations (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden), calling themselves the "New Agenda Coalition," launched a joint declaration on nuclear disarmament. The eighteen points of the declaration "A Nuclear Weapons-Free World: The Need For A New Agenda," outline the need for action for the abolition of nuclear weapons, and concludes with the statement; "We, on our part, will spare no efforts to pursue the objectives outlined above. We are jointly resolved to achieve the goal of a world free from nuclear weapons. We firmly hold that the determined and rapid preparation for the post-nuclear era must start now." The Coalition will be presenting a resolution based on these ideas at the 1998 General Assembly of the United Nations.
Despite the welcome establishment of the UN Department for Disarmament Affairs last year, meaningful progress toward nuclear disarmament, let alone abolition, has virtually come to a halt. Noting this impasse, UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, has asked for reports from all UN member countries detailing their efforts toward nuclear abolition. These reports are due by the end of the year.
A growing, world-wide, consensus for abolition has failed to move the nuclear weapons states any closer to a nuclear weapons free world. With every blocking tactic used by these states, the rift between people and governments grows deeper.
Grade: 2 out of 10.
2) Immediately make an unconditional pledge not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.
Report: China remains the only state with a public policy in place of no first use. NATO, led by the US, continues to hold to a policy of nuclear first use. Indeed Presidential Decision Directive 61, issued in December 1996, extends US nuclear policy to the use of nuclear weapons against chemical and biological threats (and thus to third world nations, by implication). The British Strategic Defence Review considered no-first use but it was rejected in the final document.
Grade: 2 out of 10.
3) Rapidly complete a truly Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) with a zero threshold and with the stated purpose of precluding nuclear weapons development by all states.
Report: India's and Pakistan's nuclear tests, conducted in May, underlined in dramatic fashion the failure of the current approach to nuclear proliferation. The response of the "declared" nuclear weapons states was to criticise and to impose sanctions. Although both countries have recently indicated they would sign both the CTBT (and the NPT), the US, Russia and China have yet to ratify the treaty. (So far, 21 countries have ratified the treaty; 44 are necessary before it enters into force.)
Grade: -2 out of 10.
4) Cease to produce and deploy new and additional nuclear weapons systems, and commence to withdraw and disable deployed nuclear weapons systems.
Report: The question of whether India and Pakistan will put nuclear warheads on missile delivery systems looms large. Israel and India are both reportedly considering deployment of nuclear submarines. The US continues with plans to replace the remaining C4 missiles with the D5 model on its fleet of 18 Trident submarines, for a total cost of $23.9 billion. The new government in the UK has made much of its reduction in warheads but there are question marks over this. In September, Britain rolled out is fourth Trident submarine, the HMS Vengeance. However, the UK Trident's alert status has been reduced from minutes to three days.
The need for urgency in efforts toward abolition grows in light of the deteriorating situation in Russia. Russia's current economic problems are compounding the discontent already growing in its nuclear establishment.
There have been staff walk outs in the closed nuclear cities of Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70 because of the non-payment of salaries. There are serious question marks over the continued safety of Russia's nuclear complex and the potential spread of its nuclear expertise around the world. In October, Communist Deputy Prime Minister, Yuri Maslyukov, said that Russia could only afford several hundred nuclear warheads at most and, with Soviet-era weaponry fast becoming obsolete, must press on with START-II, START-III and other arms limitation treaties with the United States to preserve the nuclear balance. Why not just move directly to abolishing them?
Grade: 2 out of 10.
5) Prohibit the military and commercial production and reprocessing of all weapons-usable radioactive materials.
Report: Talks on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty got off to a faltering start in Geneva this summer but look like they will take a very long time. The plutonium economy faces increasing opposition, exemplified by the massive protests at Gorleben in Germany earlier this year. France's La Hague facility was temporarily closed when it was revealed that its transport casks have been in violation of safety standards for years. The UK must decide this year whether to start up Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) production. Most experts agree that this could be used in a crude nuclear bomb. Despite a worldwide glut of uranium, the re-election of the Howard government in Australia has reopened the issue of uranium mining in that country. As a result, mining leases have been excised out of the world heritage site of Kakadu National Park at Jabiluka in Northern Australia, and the site is in grave danger (see also Moorea Declaration).
On the positive side the new coalition Social Democratic/Green government in Germany is committed to the end of nuclear power in that country and will cease sending nuclear material out of the country for reprocessing.
Grade: 4 out of 10.
6) Subject all weapons-usable radioactive materials and nuclear facilities in all states to international accounting, monitoring, and safeguards, and establish a public internationa weapons-usable radioactive materials.
Report: The UK made progress on transparency this year when it published, for the first time, details of its stocks of plutonium. It currently has 7.6 tonnes of plutonium and will cease to withdraw fissile material from safeguarded stocks for nuclear weapons. No other progress.
Grade: 2 out of 10.
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.
Report: President Clinton responded to the news of Pakistan's nuclear tests on 28 May 1998 by stating: "I cannot believe that we are about to start the twenty-first century having the sub-continent repeat the worst mistakes of the twentieth, when we know it is not necessary to peace, to security, to prosperity, to national greatness or national fulfilment.." His statement may have carried more conviction if the US were not simultaneously conducting sub-critical nuclear tests. The latest, codenamed Bagpipe, took place at the Nevada Test Site on September 25. Far from being closed, test sites are still actively being used...
Meanwhile, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, construction continues on the $5 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF)-- the centerpiece of the US "Stockpile Stewardship" program. A new report from the Institute of Energy and Environmental Research cites the NIF (and its evil twin facility, the Laser Megajoule in Bordeaux, France) as illegal under the CTBT. (see also no. 3).
Grade: -3 out of 10.
8) Create additional nuclear weapons free zones such as those established by the treaties of Tlatelolco and Rarotonga.
Report: Very little progess in the area of the creation of nuclear weapon free zones. Prospects in South Asia have taken a negative course and the Central European zone concept is stalled because of NATO expansion.
Grade: 0 out of 10.
9) Recognize and declare the illegality of threat or use of nuclear weapons, publicly and before the World Court.
Report: In Rome this summer, intense negotiations took place on the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction over the threat and use of nuclear weapons, but produced no conclusions. Again NATO resisted any mention of nuclear weapons. But the historic International Court of Justice (ICJ) opinion of July, 1996 continued to inspire more and more imaginative non-violent civil obedience actions from citizen's groups around the world. Taking the ICJ decision directly to the world's nuclear weapons facilities, "Citizen Inspection Teams" attempted to or succeeded in inspecting NATO Headquarters in Belgium, Trident homeports in the US and UK, Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories in the US, Dimona in Israel, and sites in France and Germany. At the UK Trident base in Scotland this summer, over 100 people were arrested for upholding the law.
Grade: 3 out of 10.
10) Establish an international energy agency to promote and support the development of sustainable and environmentally safe energy sources.
Report: The Kyoto conference at the end of 1997 did very little to promote renewable energy. We applaud, however, the fledging legal initiative to draft a model statue to create an international sustainable energy agency. The myth of nuclear power as the answer to global warming continues to be promoted by those with a vested interest in the nuclear industry. The serious implications of the Y2K computer crisis argues for the world wide shutdown of all nuclear power stations, and thus highlights the ever more urgent need for safe energy sources. The potential for solar, wind and wave energy is growing with the price of photo-voltaic cells dropping rapidly, and with deregulation of the utility industry in the US and other northern countries.
Grade: 3 out of 10.
11) Create mechanisms to ensure the participation of citizens and NGOs in planning and monitoring the process of nuclear weapons abolition.
Report: Despite the fact that the Abolition 2000 network has grown to over 1000 groups in 70 plus countries, NGOs still do not have a seat at the table. At the NPT Preparatory Committee meetings held in Geneva this spring, under the guise of the "enhanced review process," the Non-Aligned Movement applauded the NGO presentations heard during a formal session of the meeting. However, citizen groups were barred from all but the opening and closing plenary sessions. So much for openness. Despite these setbacks, NGOs are forging new efforts to ensure that the voices of the people are heard. In this respect, we welcome the launch of the Middle Powers Initiative, which has been acknowledged by the countries of the New Agenda Coalition, and will be pursuing similar and parallel goals. The international conference on nuclear disarmament put forward by the Non-Aligned Movement at their meeting in South Africa offers another opportunity for future work in this area. (see also no.9)
Grade: 2 out of 10
From the Moorea Declaration: "The anger and tears of colonised peoples arise from the fact that there was no consultation, no consent, involvement in the decision when their lands, air and waters were taken for the nuclear build-up, from the very start of the nuclear era....Colonised and indigenous peoples have, in the large part, borne the brunt of this nuclear devastation.... We reaffirm... that indigenous and colonised peoples must be central... in decisions relating to the nuclear weapons cycle - and especially in the abolition of nuclear weapons in all aspects. The inalienable right to self-determination, sovereignty and independence is crucial in allowing all peoples of the world to join in the common struggle to rid the planet forever of nuclear weapons."
Report: Although French nuclear testing in the Pacific ended in 1996, the conflicting conclusions of two recent studies on their effects, released in the past year, show that the controversy will remain for the foreseeable future. Hiti Tau, the Maohi network of non-government organisations based in Tahiti, released one study (in conjunction with the World Council of Churches and Wageningen University, the Netherlands); the other was released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria. The Hiti Tau study documents the testimony of 737 workers at the French testing facilities since 1966, reveals the shocking conditions employees were exposed to in their work, and calls for more extensive epidemiological studies to be conducted. Local church leader in Tahiti, Ralph Teinaore stressed: "This is only the first step of the work that awaits us, so that justice can be done for the people of Maohi Nui and the Pacific". The IAEA study, on the other hand, concludes that radiation exposure was within established safety limits, and continued study is not necessary.
The testing of the latest nuclear weapon in the US arsenal, the earth-penetrating B61-11 (the warhead being replaced with Depleted Uranium), on indigenous lands in Alaska this fall, took place over the protests of the local people, as well as 190 citizen groups around the world in solidarity with them.
In Australia, Energy Resources of Australia is currently attempting to construct a controversial new uranium mine at Jabiluka, on a mining lease carved out of the heart of Kakadu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region's traditional owners, the Mirrar People, are fighting the Jabiluka approvals process in the Federal Court, and environmental groups have mounted a strong campaign against the mine. As we go to press with this report, we await the outcome of high level inspection team from the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO on October 25 to determine whether it should be listed as 'World Heritage in Danger.' Both natural and cultural criteria determined its World Heritage status: 196 sacred art sites dating back to at least 10,000 BC are being adversely affected by the mining, which also makes the sites less accessible to the Mirrar People, who continue to practice their culture there.
Meanwhile, the Western Shoshone continue to assert their sovereignty despite the US subcritical tests at the Nevada Test Site, and the siting of a high level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, both within the boundaries of their traditional lands. They have appealed to the European Parliament to acknowledge their sovereignty.
Grade: 1 out of 10
Total grade: 16 out of 120
For comparison, the 1996 report card scored 31/110, the 1997 card, 27/110.
This year's report has plummeted to a record low of 16/120. (The discrepancy in total points is due to the inclusion this year of the Moorea Declaration.)
Conclusions: President Nelson Mandela reminded the world in his recent speech that the very first resolution of the General Assembly, adopted in January 1946, sought to address the challenge of "the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction." He went on to say: "We must face the fact that after countless initiatives and resolutions, we still do not have concrete and generally accepted proposals supported by a clear commitment by the nuclear-weapons States to the speedy, final and total elimination of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons capabilities.... We must ask the question, which might sound naive to those who have elaborated sophisticated arguments to justify their refusal to eliminate these terrible and terrifying weapons of mass destruction - why do they need them anyway! In reality, no rational answer can be advanced to explain in a satisfactory manner what, in the end, is the consequence of Cold War inertia and an attachment to the use of the threat of brute force, to assert the primacy of some States over others."
Mandela put his finger on the heart of the problem. The nuclear weapon states may be committed on paper to nuclear elimination but in reality they still find an advantage in possessing the means to destroy the world. Little wonder that other states want to join the club!
1998 was a bad year for nuclear abolition. Next year will be the last year of this century, and ten years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down. Some historians claim that the 20th century really began in 1914 and ended in 1989...if that is the case, maybe the new century really started in May this year when the deserts in India and Pakistan were wrenched by nuclear explosions?
We conclude this year's report card with the words of Indian writer Arundhati Roy, from her recent essay "The End of Imagination." They are a challenge to us all.
"All I can say to every man, woman and sentient child in India, and over there, just a little way away in Pakistan, is: take it personally. Whoever you are - Hindu, Muslim, urban, agrarian - it doesn't matter. The only good thing about nuclear war is that it is the single most egalitarian idea that man has ever had. On the day of reckoning, you will not be asked to present your credentials. The devastation will be indiscriminate. The bomb isn't in your backyard. It's in your body. And mine. Nobody, no nation, no government, no man, no god has the right to put it there. We're radioactive already, and the war hasn't even begun. So stand up and say something. Never mind if it's been said before. Speak up on your own behalf. Take it very personally."
Janet Bloomfield and Pamela S. Meidell, October 24, 1998
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