Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

DOOMSDAY CLOCK: 3 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

Posted by strattof on March 14, 2015

 

THE THREAT

Each year since 1947, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has set the hand of its Doomsday Clock to show how close humanity is to annihilating itself.

Each minute closer to midnight brings us nearer to destroying ourselves with our own technology—including the technology of nuclear weapons.

In 2015, which marks the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Doomsday Clock moved from 5 minutes to midnight to just 3.

While the US and Russia have reduced their nuclear stockpiles since the days of the Cold War, some 800 warheads remain on high alert, ready to launch within tens of minutes. Every continent except Antarctica contains highly enriched uranium that is being used or could be used in nuclear weapons.

Growing tensions between nuclear powers and possible nuclear powers, modernization of nuclear weapons arsenals by Nuclear Weapons States, along with stalled progress on nuclear disarmament, have added to the danger.

Canada should take a clear stand for abolishing all nuclear weapons at the upcoming UN Nuclear Disarmament Conference in April of this year.

NUCLEAR “ROGUE” STATES AND THE GLOBAL STOCKPILE

Much media attention focuses on North Korea and Iran as nuclear “rogue” states, countries accused of ignoring international norms in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In fact, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commits all states that have signed it to work towards “nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

While North Korea has disavowed the treaty, and concerns remain about Iran, several states, including Israel, Pakistan and India reject the treaty. Meanwhile, Britain, France, Russia, China and the US maintain significant nuclear stockpiles.

For example, just south of us in Minot, North Dakota, 150 Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are stationed. Each one of these missiles has nearly 30 times the destructive power of the bombs that fell 70 years ago on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hundreds more weapons are deployed to be dropped as bombs from airplanes, or launched as missiles from submarines—and that represents the US arsenal alone.

As The Economist has recently pointed out, though the total number of active nuclear warheads has fallen from a Cold War high of 60,000, the danger is greater than ever, because of growing international tensions and a failure by nuclear weapons states to eliminate their arsenals.

Indeed, Russia is sharply increasing its military budget, dedicating a third of its increases to modernizing its nuclear force. Similarly, the United States plans to spend nearly $350 billion over the next decade to do the same.

TOTAL NUCLEAR STOCKPILE

The global estimate of the total nuclear stockpile is as follows:

Russia: 8,000                   Pakistan: 110-120

US: 7,300                          India: 90-100

France: 300                      Israel: 80

China: 250                        North Korea: Fewer than 10

UK: 225                             Iran: 0

The truth is that no country or government has the right to possess weapons that could destroy life and civilization as we know it. All countries—including Canada—should live up to the intent of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and take concrete steps to eliminate nuclear weapons and move towards total disarmament.

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists estimates that another 20 to 30 countries possess the capabilities, if not the intent, to pursue the bomb.

Any country or government that rejects the NPT’s call for nuclear and general disarmament is a “rogue.”

A nuclear war would be humanity’s last war, and Canada has a special responsibility to ensure that war—a war with no winners—is never fought.

CANADA’S SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Canadian uranium, including Saskatchewan uranium, has been used to produce nuclear weapons, since the days of the Manhattan Project, which produced the nuclear weapons dropped on Japan.

Canadian nuclear technology was used by India to create its first nuclear weapon test, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in 1974.

Canada and Saskatchewan have been actively pursuing increased uranium trade with China and India, two nuclear weapons states. Although promises have been made that no Canadian uranium will find its way into nuclear weapons programs, access to Canadian uranium to produce power frees up other uranium resources for weapons, and both states have announced plans to modernize or enhance their nuclear weapons programs.

WHAT DO WE DO?

In April and May of this year, an international conference will be held in New York to review implementation of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Canada should take a strong stand at this convention to ensure all nations live up to their obligations to eliminate nuclear weapons and to work towards peaceful solutions to global conflicts.

Contact your MPs to let them know, in advance of the Non-Proliferation Treaty Conference, that you want Canada to be a voice for disarmament and peace.

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