“Many of the assertions in the statement are not borne out by reality: that they are committed to preserving and complying with disarmament and non-proliferation treaties – yet the US under President Trump trashed numerous key treaties that have not been reinstated under President Biden”
CND General Secretary Kate Hudson responds to a statement by nuclear-armed countries.
“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” So say the leaders of the world’s largest nuclear weapons states in their recent joint statement, issued at the start of the year.
At a time of increasing global tension, it’s a welcome reaffirmation of the position that Reagan and Gorbachev took at their 1985 summit at the height of the cold war. At that time, those powerful words led to radical action: the removal of a whole class of nuclear weapons from Europe through the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty – the very outcome that we, in the mass peace movements, had been demanding.
Reagan and Gorbachev employed actions as well as words. They followed through. That is what we need today but this joint statement looks like words instead of actions. Dialogue is good, but we want concrete outcomes – real steps towards disarmament, not the nuclear weapons modernisation programmes that all these countries are undertaking.
Many of the assertions in the statement are not borne out by reality: that they are committed to preserving and complying with disarmament and non-proliferation treaties – yet the US under President Trump trashed numerous key treaties that have not been reinstated under President Biden; that they are committed to the NPT’s Article VI – this requires good faith measures towards nuclear disarmament, ridden roughshod over by all nuclear weapons states modernising or increasing their arsenals; and underpinning this is the continued false notion that nuclear weapons ‘serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.’
Of course it’s good to hear leaders reiterating the validity of ‘previous statements on de-targeting, reaffirming that none of our nuclear weapons are targeted at each other or at any other State.’ But while it’s positive that our nuclear weapons aren’t pre-programmed to attack Moscow – or anywhere else, the truth is that they could be re-targeted in around 15 minutes. We need further steps to be taken, to reduce the risk of accidental or precipitous use – such as ‘de-alerting’, which puts an actual physical block within the weapons system, to prevent firing.
At this time of enormous interlocking threats and challenges, we must welcome their commitment to ‘increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all.’ But we also need their engagement with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, freely negotiated by the global majority.
So who will take the first step, to ensure that these fine words become reality? Now is the time for us all to ‘Look Up’ and see the dangers that are facing us and take the necessary steps to prevent nuclear annihilation. Continued and intensified campaigning is at the heart of that.
- Kate Hudson is the General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). You can follow her on twitter here, and CND on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
- You can support the work of the CND by joining as a member at: https://cnduk.org/support-us/