2007 - 2021

A Ban is Coming

trident-protest-001Despite the best efforts of Theresa to renew Trident, no questions asked, the world is preparing to ensure that events will overtake her preparedness to press the nuclear button.

As she commits the UK (including Scotland) to austerity, unpredictable expenditure and a deranged level of risk by upgrading Trident, the overwhelming majority of world states are working at UN this week to establish a conference in 2017 to begin the process of creating a ban treaty as a first step in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

The security council of UN comprises the nuclear weapons armed states who are signatories to the Non Proliferation Treaty which was initiated in 1968 by Ireland, a neutral country that does not possess or host these weapons.

The first resolution that UN agreed was to eliminate use of atomic weapons. That was in 1945, shortly after the US Government, with the complete formal assent of the UK Government, had authorised and implemented the incineration and radiation of two cities in Japan that were full of civilians, at the point when Japan’s surrender at the end of WWll was in negotiation.

In 1967, the UN’s First Resolution was not happening and the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was introduced. One of the main initiator was Ireland, a neutral state during WWll who did not have any nuclear programme. The NPT deal allowed signatories access to atomic (nuclear) technologies for civilian application proved they didn’t develop it militarily, and the nuclear armed states were to have a bit of time to work out how to safely dismantle and eliminate their nukes. The phrase used for the way they would sort out how they would completely disarm was ‘in good faith’. The global community would understand that it might not happen next week, because radioactive stuff was dangerous.

Then there was the cold war, with Nuclear Proliferation meaning more states getting weapons and the states that had them increasing the size of their arsenals several times beyond the point where each ‘nuclear weapon state, as they were now called, could annihilate every species on the planet and render it uninhabitable in perpetuity. Testing had a devastating effect on military personnel, civilians, indigenous people, and the environment, The peace movement and resistance grew accordingly but the idea that the states that had the weapons had to lead the ban effort also somehow became entrenched although the addiction and the closing down of other possible approaches to ‘superpower defense’ was by now pretty obvious.

The NPT was reviewed fairly regularly in a United Nations forum where the states who had nuclear weapons could veto any decision made by each other or by the states that didn’t have the weapons. There were reduction in the stock piles and agreements that reduced the testing. Several new countries acquired nuclear weapons but they didn’t sign up to the treaty. Some countries who had nuclear weapons programmes gave them up, but they hadn’t signed up to the treaty anyway.

By 2010, a staggering 4 decades later, The NPT had not achieved non proliferation and there was no sign that the states who held the weapons were ready to disarm. UN general secretary told the NPT that it needed to sort it out, and get the weapons banned.

Then the International Red Cross and Red Crescent made a statement that, because the event of a nuclear exchange the humanitarian consequences would be so catastrophic that they would be unable to respond, and the only protection was a complete ban.

The next review of the NPT collapsed in chaos as the nuclera armed states would not even agree a minute of what had happened.

Conferences were hosted by states that did not hold nuclear weapons to look at those consequences, and a pledge (the Humanitarian Pledge)was initiated by the Austrian government to start work on a ban treaty. Ireland, who had been so committed to disarmament at the start of the NPT, was one of the states which was very committed to the process of supporting and highlighting the Humanitarian Pledge. Ireland also understood and sympathised with Scotland, which still hosts all of the UK’s weapons while opposing UK nuclear weapon policy.

The International Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (ICAN) had come into being in 2007 and has focussed on the effect and impact of the 9 nuclear armed states on the hundreds of other states. Like Ban Ki Moon, the UN general Secretary ICAN supports the NPT provided that the vital third pillar, complete nuclear disarmament (by states who hold nuclear weapons) in good faith proceeds.

The UN established an open-ended working group to look at how to “fill the gap that could lead to elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons” All States were encouraged to send delegates, and Civil Society Organisations could take part as well. The organisations like the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Red Cross who have consultative status with United Nations, could sponsor representatives from others.

Taking part is a big commitment not only for civil society but also for many of the states that are too wee or poor to have a permanent mission (ie an office with diplomats in it) at the UN in New York or Geneva. They have to get sponsorship to send delegates to the meetings so if the nuclear armed states choose to prevaricate and delay proceedings its difficult for the sponsored diplomats to stick around. Time differences can also be utilised to prevent diplomats from consulting their governments at home if the decision to be made is substantially altered so that they are forced to abstain from taking a position.

All of the Nuclear Armed states, including the UK Government with Theresa May poised to press the button, decided to boycott the OEWG process, on two grounds:

1. that it would involve proposals for a ban treaty which would undermine the NPT; their understanding of that being that they were ‘allowed’ to keep their nukes for as long as they want and that disarmament should be done step-by-step, however long that might take.

2. the meeting would not be done by consensus, so they could not block decisions and if voting was utilised they might lose the vote (Ironic, as none of the ban supporting states chose to utilise the right to ask for a vote, only Australia which is ‘protected’ by US nukes.

Scotland is not allowed a ‘state’ voice and the UK refuse to represent us. We have been there, in the form of of Bill Kidd MSP representing Parliamentarians for Non-proliferation and Nuclear Disarmament, and I have been able to attend on behalf of the Scottish branch of WILPF and we have both received a lot of support from our international colleagues. Our First Minister has expressed support for the Humanitarian Pledge.

Some of the states who do not have their own nuclear weapons but are in NATO or have some other dependence on nuclear armed states view are under pressure from them. They are sometimes called ‘nuclear umbrella states’ as though they were protected rather than endangered and they are also sometimes called ‘weasel states’ though not usually to the delegates’ faces.

The OEWG finished its meetings in August, and the very very good news is that the recommendation by the OEWG to the United Nations First Committee with the backing of a large majority, strongly supports a conference in 2017 to negotiate a nuclear ban treaty open to all states and stoppable by none.

The Recommendation is being discussed in New York this week. It will go to a vote at the end of the meeting, that is the end of this month. If it is adopted, a ban treaty would make the states who support it able to refuse any nuclear weapons activity in their countries or waters including uranium mining or transportation and in addition to increasing the stigma (think of the change in attitude to having a drink and driving a car that happened when it was outlawed) it would create problems for nuclear armed states in military agreements and joint exercises.

Opposition to the resolution from the nuclear-armed states is expected to be fierce. Already they have sent “démarches”, or diplomatic instructions, demanding that governments withdraw their support for ban treaty negotiations and the pressure is likely to continue behind closed doors during the debate on the resolution in New York this week.

Along with other ICAN campaigners (and Bill Kidd MSP) I will be doing my best to counter this pressure wherever they can. Our supporters at home can do whatever they can to ensure that this historic decision is not kept out of public awareness.

Hopefully people will contact the BBC if good cover is not forthcoming and also report the story to both local and national press. Please call up phone-in radio broadcasts and raise it, whatever they are talking about. (you may have to be a bit inventive about what your wanting to say until you actually get on air).

Comments (15)

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  1. Alan says:

    Readers might want to take a look at a NYT opinion piece on the relationship between Trident and the Hinkley decision. There are also other reasons for the Hinkley decision that also have nothing to do with rational energy policy.

    1. Maria F says:

      I have read the links Alan and I am horrified. Scotland needs to break out of this madness or they will drag us to the ground. This project of course also explains why the renewals industry in Scotland is being attacked rather than promoted by the Westminster government.

      1. Alan says:

        I quite agree with your point about renewables. That’s the flipside of this.

    2. Alan says:


      Interested to read what you disagree with. Do you disagree with the link between Hinkley and Trident? Or the link between Hinkley and the UK current account deficit? Please explain.

  2. Andrew says:

    Has Mrs May stated she will fire nuclear weapons? Yes, she has. So start your piece with the evidence from her speech at the despatch box House of Commons where she said if the choice and circumstances arose, she would start a nuclear war! That point needs developed. The point being, that she would readily be part of murdering possibly millions of people…………….
    Whether or not there are progressives within the UN who will leave the Hawkish New Cold Warriors behind and move towards a Ban, as you positively suggest ( and I hope you are right), the NeoCons in the USA are the hireling mouths of the Military Industrial Dollar Complex and those fuckwits needs bombs selling and bombs dropping daily to keep their dividends coming in from stocks and shares. So they will keep on overturning governments and paying for proxy wars to topple every and any government that gets in their way. In case you have not noticed the Mafia and CIA merged long ago and they take money from any source, Devil or not, and are happy to assist via private groups, the apparent enemy of ISIL, since they will get their regime change by hook or via crook.

    Where is the strategy to stop these ABSOLUTIST MANIACS hellbent on getting Mr Putin on his knees before them to kneel and give subservience to their almighty power? We are already in the throws of WW3 now in the same way that the Spanish Civil war was the dress rehearsal for WW2. With a blundering foot in the mouth moron as Foreign Secretary with Boris, we don’t need a Killer Clown in the Uk, we have one with a killer mouth who would talk us into a nuclear war. The sudden, amazing caring desire of our callous establishment media to see humanity and real living people in Allepo in Syria and blame everything on Russia now that the Britsh establishment cares so damn much all of a sudden when they didn’t give a damn for almost 5 years ( and wanted to directly bomb the people of Syria to help get rid of Assad a couple of years ago) is quite a Volte face for a government who , at the start, encouraged people to go and fight against Assad and hence helped create and boost ISIL.

    British foreign policy should decide who they support or hate the most? For the last few weeks of Russophobic diatribe our media establishment have airbrushed out the reality that there are terrorists in Allepo at all. Johnson should decide who he wants to fight most; Russia or terrorists, because for now, he is effectively aiding and abetting terrorists. But that’s to be expected, given the Uk is little more than a satellite puppet state of America with over 10000 USA troops stationed her! Could anyone tell me what on hell they are doing here? Who asked them? Why are they here?

  3. Sandy says:

    It’s not correct to say that Japan’s surrender was in negotiation at the time the atomic bombs were dropped. Overtures might have been made but there was no sign that Japan was about to offer an acceptable unconditional surrender.

    1. Paul Codd says:

      I presume you’re point being that the bombs were humanitarian, by shortening the negociation process and ending the war a few weeks sooner? This sort of crap has been fed at us for decades and doesn’t stand up to any rational analysis. Japan was already against the ropes and no way of winning the war militarily – mortality estimates vary from 129,000 – 236,000 people who died in the bombings – imagine if instead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki it was Greenock and Aberdeen – get an effing grip!

    2. Lawrence Anderson Burley says:

      Sandy: it was a cold decision to try out their appalling new ‘game-changing’ (planet-changing) weapon on live people to study the effects…
      If the motive had been purely to terrify the Japanese Govt into fast surrender, what was there to prevent the US from identifying an uninhabited or sparsely inhabited island in the Japanese archipelago, sending a message through the Swiss or other diplomatic channels to say: “watch this!” and nuking it, then saying, Nagasaki will be next if you don’t surrender.

      Same effect, but 100,000s of lives saved. Doing what I describe is not beyond the wit of political leaders. No, the decision to incinerate two whole cities was deliberate, one of the worst war crimes, if not the worst, of the century

    3. Jeff says:

      Japan had already offered to surrender but the USA president/fool Truman wanted to try out his new toys to frighten the Russians.

  4. Yan says:

    “Where is the strategy to stop these ABSOLUTIST MANIACS hellbent on getting Mr Putin on his knees before them to kneel and give subservience to their almighty power? We are already in the throws of WW3 …”

    ABSOULUTELY AGREE and what does Nicola Sturgeon do to muster opposition and warn the Scottish people distract them with an Independence Referendum Bill – funny that!

    1. Connor McEwen says:

      Distract my ERSE yir echoing runt Ruthie of the full of bull Conservative party and tanked up with bull from Tory HQ. Indy means more control to say ta ta to nukes

    2. Maria F says:


      “and what does Nicola Sturgeon do to muster opposition and warn the Scottish people distract them with an Independence Referendum Bill”

      At least Ms Sturgeon is trying to give something to the Scottish people to stop this outrageous democratic deficit Scotland is having to endure within the UK.

      Now, what on earth are Ms Davidson and Mr Mundell doing to fight against this democratic deficit, Yan? nothing, nothing at all.

      I didn’t hear them wailing in the press against the renewal of Trident by their party colleagues and any cost and put themselves in the line to protect the interests of Scotland.

      I didn’t hear them wailing in the press against Ms May attempting to drag Scotland out of Scotland against its will.

      I didn’t hear them wailing in the press against the Tory government for dragging us into airstrikes in Syria when most Scottish MPs voted against.

      And what did they do when the Tories announced that the frigates would not be built? Nothing

      What about the HMRC jobs Nope, nothing

      What about when we got that scrap instead of the supadupa vow which would include devo max to the max? Nothing, not a peep.

      As a matter of fact, what did Mr Mundell do to reflect the views of the people of Scotland when the vote for the renewal of Trident at the House of Commons took place? Worse than nothing! he voted against the decision of the Scottish parliament.

      So Yan, what do we want these two incompetents for?

    3. J Galt says:

      There is plenty of evidence to support the view that Japan was desperately trying to surrender on at least national survival terms.

      The purpose of the bombs was as a demonstration and warning to the Soviet Union and Stalin, as was Dresden. That huge numbers of civilians must die agonising deaths in order to make geopolitical points was of as little interest to our masters then as it is now.

  5. Alan Stewart says:

    I am all in favour of a ban. Just don’t expect anyone to comply.

  6. Peter C says:

    I think there is an error in the article. There is a sentence that runs:

    “The International Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (ICAN) had come into being in 2007 . . .”

    On goggling this I found that “ICAN” is an acronym used by the organisation “International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons”. Thus the article needs to be amended to state this.

    See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Campaign_to_Abolish_Nuclear_Weapons

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