NoFirstUse Global, a coalition of 9 co-founding organizations and 74 participating organizations, has recently launched Fulfil the NPT: From nuclear threats to human security, an Open Letter to States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) calling on them to:
- End the nuclear arms race;
- Phase out the role of nuclear weapons in security policies starting with no-first-use policies;
- Commit to a timeframe for the elimination of nuclear weapons;
- Shift budgets and public investments from the nuclear weapons industry to instead support public health, climate stabilization and sustainable development.
The Open Letter, which is open for endorsement by representatives of civil society, will be presented to the 10th Review Conference of the NPT, which takes place at the United Nations in New York from January 4-28, 2022.
Importance of the NPT Review Conference
This will be one of the most important inter-governmental events on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament to take place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 191 States are Parties to the NPT, including five of the nuclear armed States. The Treaty includes obligations on both non-proliferation and disarmament.
The NPT Review Conferences, which usually take place every five years, provide an opportunity to move governments to strengthen non-proliferation and disarmament norms and to take national and multilateral action on implementing these norms and obligations. Due to the pandemic, there has not been an NPT Review Conference since 2015.
One of the key calls in the Open Letter is for the nuclear-weapon States to commit to never launch a nuclear war, i.e. by adopting no-first-use policies, and that this be supported by other States parties to the NPT.
India and China currently have no-first-use policies. The other nuclear-armed States (France, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, UK and USA) and their allies under extended nuclear deterrence relationships (primarily NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia) have not ruled out the option of launching a first strike with nuclear weapons, either in response to conventional threats or as a pre-emptive strike against an adversary’s nuclear forces.
This first-use option increases the risks that a nuclear war could start by accident, mis-information, miscalculation or crisis escalation. It also leads the nuclear armed states to continue manufacturing nuclear weapons in order to provide a first-strike capacity, and to increase their retaliatory capacity in preparation for a response to a first strike against them.
The adoption of no-first-use policies would therefore make the world a much safer place. They would also make it easier to start cutting the massive nuclear weapons budgets – which collectively amount to about $100 billion per year globally.
End the nuclear arms race – move the nuclear weapons money
The appeal calls for an end to the manufacture of nuclear weapons, and for States Parties to the NPT to shift budgets and public investments from the nuclear weapons industry to instead support public health, climate stabilization and sustainable development.
There are already a number of initiatives in nuclear armed states to cut the nuclear weapons budgets, such as the Invest in Cures Before Missiles (ICBM) Bill introduced into the US Congress by Senator Markey. However, these generally do not receive sufficient support to get adopted. A commitment by States Parties to the NPT to cut nuclear weapons budgets would give needed support to these initiatives and help bring about success.
In addition, several of the non-nuclear States parties to the NPT have taken nuclear divestment measures, i.e. by ending investments in the nuclear weapons industry by public funds/financial institutions such as sovereign wealth funds, government-managed pension funds, nationally owned banks, public trust funds etc… These include Lichtenstein, New Zealand, Norway and New Zealand. The Open Letter encourages other non-nuclear States to take similar measures.
The Open Letter is already endorsed by over 350 political, military and religious leaders, as well as legislators, academics, scientists, business leaders, youth, representatives of civil society organizations and others. Listed here are just a few of these:
- Ambassador Libran Cabactulan (Philippines). Former Ambassador of the Philippines to the UN. President of the 2010 NPT Review Conference;
- General (ret) Bernard Norlain (France) Président, IDN-Initiatives pour le Désarmement Nucléaire. Former Air Defense Commander of the French Air Force;
- Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Ireland), Founder of Peace People. Nobel Peace Laureate;
- Ambassador Thomas Graham (USA), Head of the United States Delegation to the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference;
- Dr. Vladimir Kozin (Russian Federation), Member, Russian Academy of Military Sciences;
- Mounir Zahran, (Egypt), Chairman, Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs;
- Dave Webb (UK), Chair, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament;
- Rev William Swing (United States), Founder, United Religions Initiative: Voices for a World Free of Nuclear Weapons;
- Admiral Laxminarayan Ramdas (India). Former Chief of Staff of the Indian Navy;
- Baroness Sue Miller (UK). Vice-Chair, All Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-proliferation;
- Kevin Martin (United States). President, Peace Action;
- Dr. Abdul Hameed Nayyar (Pakistan), Physicist. Former Member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament;
- Hon Gareth Evans (Australia). Former Foreign Minister of Australia; Founding Convenor, Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament;
- Commander Robert Forsyth (UK), Retired Royal Navy Nuclear Submarine Commander;
- Ambassador Carlo Trezza (Italy), Former Italian Ambassador to the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva;
- Uta Zapf (Germany), Former Chair of the German Parliament Subcommittee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation;
- Carol Gilbert (United States), International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN);
- Ambassaor Enkhsaikhan Jargalsaikhan (Mongolia), Chairman, Blue Banner. Former Mongolia Ambassador to the UN.
- Dr Hedy Fry MP (Canda). OSCE Parliamentary Assemby Special Representative of Gender;
- Prof. Andreas Nidecker (Switzerland), IPPNW Switzerland. President, Basel Peace Office
Cover graphic by Juan Pablo Gozales. 123RF images