Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

BAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Posted by strattof on October 15, 2017

On July 7, 2017, in an historic action, 122 countries, 63% of all countries in the world, voted at the UN to adopt a treaty banning nuclear weapons. Recognizing the “catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences” of their use, the treaty prohibits the development, testing, production, and possession of nuclear weapons.

The first major development in nuclear disarmament since the signing of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in1968, the treaty entered into force on September 20.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that Canada did not sign the treaty. Nor did any of the nine nuclear-armed states.

Why did Canada not sign? Canada is a member of NATO. NATO reserves the right to use nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis. The US instructed all NATO members to reject the treaty.

THE THREAT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION

In August 1945, the United Stated dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of people and destroying the two cities.

Thankfully, these are the only nuclear bombs ever used in warfare.

74 years after the horrific devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the threat of nuclear weapons still looms over humanity. Today’s nuclear bombs are thousands of times more powerful than those dropped in 1945.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS STATES

  • Today, nine nations possess nuclear weapons: Russia, the US, France, China, Britain, Pakistan, India, Israel, and North Korea.
  • Together these nations have some 15,000 nuclear warheads.
  • The US and Russia possess the vast majority of the world’s nuclear weapons, together accounting for 93% of them.
  • Here’s a breakdown by country of the total nuclear stockpile:

Russia        7,000               Pakistan           120

US             6,800               India                100

France       300                  Israel               80

China         250                  North Korea    Fewer than 10

Britain       215

 

  • None of these nations signed the nuclear weapons ban treaty. Indeed, all are expanding or “modernizing” their nuclear weapons programs.

NUCLEAR THREATS

The threat of nuclear disaster seems to be particularly high at the moment. These are the reasons:

  • NATO’s insistence on the right to a nuclear first strike
  • Tension between the US and Russia
  • Escalating tension between the US and North Korea
  • The unpredictability of US President Donald Trump
  • India-Pakistan tensions
  • A nuclear accident—an accident waiting to happen

THE PATH TO SAFETY: WHAT CANADA MUST DO

  1. First and foremost, Canada must sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons.
  2. Next, Canada must begin to work within NATO to change NATO’s dangerous nuclear weapons policy of the right to use nuclear weapons on a first-strike basis.
  3. If NATO will not remove this policy, then Canada must get out of NATO.
  4. Finally, Canada must develop a foreign policy independent of the US and based on peace-making.

The only path to safety is to eliminate nuclear weapons. It takes only one nuclear weapon to threaten the very future of humankind.

In the words of the Mayor of Hirsohima, Kaumi Matsui, in 2015: “As long as nuclear weapons exist, anyone could become a hibakusah [victim of nuclear weapons] at any time.” 

THE PEACE SYMBOL & NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

The peace symbol finds its origins in the British nuclear disarmament movement. Designed in 1958, it uses semaphore signals to transmit its message.

Semaphore is a system of conveying information at a distance. You spell out a word by placing your arms in certain positions, each position representing a different letter in the alphabet.

N and D, standing for Nuclear Disarmament, are the semaphore signals represented in the peace symbol.

TAKE ACTION TO BAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Prime Minister Trudeau says he won’t sign the nuclear weapons ban treaty. But we can sign our own declaration of conscience for the total elimination of nuclear weapons: https://www.ceasefire.ca/?p=25341

 

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