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Experts Stress Importance of UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament

By Santo D. Banerjee

NEW YORK (IDN) – The increasing fragility of international peace and security is accentuating the critical need for persistent dialogue and relentless diplomacy to deter multiple conflicts triggering nuclear confrontation, disarmament experts and campaigners say.

Conflicts related to nuclear weapons, including in Northeast Asia, between the U.S. and NATO on the one hand and Russia on the other, they say, should be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy and every effort must be undertaken to make the UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament from May 14 to 16, 2018 in New York a success. [P 01] | JAPANESE TEXT VERSON PDF 

"[Russian President Vladimir] Putin's March 1 speech and the February 2 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review make clear that Russia and the United States are poised to resume nuclear arms racing on a scale not seen since the dark days of the Cold War," John Burroughs, Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (USA) and UN Representative for the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, said at a media briefing on March 28.

"Arms racing is dangerous in itself. It also is contrary to the Nonproliferation Treaty obligation to negotiate 'cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date.' Russia and the United States should seize every opportunity to put the threatened nuclear arms race in reverse," Burroughs added.

Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation availed of the opportunity to release an open letter to the leaders of USA, South Korea and North Korea. More than 100 U.S. civil society groups have signed the letter. The letter expresses support for the upcoming inter-Korean summit in April and the U.S.-DPRK summit in May, and urges the leaders "to patiently and diligently seek common ground."

The letter states: "Dialogue and diplomacy is essential if we are to prevent a war that would likely result in an unthinkable disaster for the Korean Peninsula, the United States and the world. … We recognize that one encounter between US and North Korean leaders will not likely produce an agreement that leads to a lasting solution. But the planned summits offer the potential for starting a serious process that could move us decisively away from the current crisis."

Cabasso said: "This letter has taken on added significance in light of the appointment of John Bolton as US National Security Advisor." In a March 1 online Wall Street Journal op-ed on February 28, 2018, Bolton called for a preemptive military strike on North Korea.

"The open letter to President Trump, President Moon and Chairman Kim is an unambiguous repudiation of Bolton's warmongering, with more than 100 peace, faith-based, professional, and Korean-American organizations across the country welcoming the extraordinary diplomatic opening that has appeared," Cabasso said.

Jonathan Granoff, President of the Global Security Institute said: "The United Nations has key roles to play in promoting and supporting diplomacy, nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament," Granoff said. "The upcoming UN High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament comes at a vital time to build global support from UN Member States.," he added. "We encourage all UN members to participate at the highest level, and to give full support to nuclear risk-reduction and disarmament measures."

Granoff said: "States could use this opportunity to either sign the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or commit to a negotiation process to stop the new arms race, lower nuclear risks, and fulfil existing disarmament obligations by agreeing to a phased process of reductions leading to the universal, legally enforceable, verifiable elimination of all nuclear weapons." said Granoff. "As a first step toward a safer saner world, the nine States with the weapons must all pledge never to initiate a nuclear war," he added.

Nuclear disarmament campaigners plan to use the UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament to focus public attention on the nuclear-weapons industry, a key stimulus to the nuclear arms race.

"Companies manufacturing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are a powerful lobby to increase nuclear weapons budgets, and to expand nuclear weapons policies in order to justify this massive public spending," said Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND).

"Legislators in our networks are becoming increasingly concerned about the risks of the nuclear arms race, and the fact that budget investments in nuclear weapons reduces the funds available for other important needs," Ware said. "They have joined with civil society in Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, a global campaign to cut nuclear weapons budgets, and end investments in nuclear weapons companies."

"The public is not aware of the colossal amount of money wasted on nuclear weapons, and what an incredible contribution this money could instead make to ending poverty, protecting the climate and providing education, housing and basic health care for all," said Holger Gūssefeld, Special Projects Coordinator for the World Future Council.

"We will demonstrate this by counting out 1 trillion dollars – the nuclear weapons budget for the coming decade – while the UN High-Level Conference is taking place," Gūssefeld added.

Gene Seidman, Project Director for Count the Nuclear Weapons Money informed: "Artists have designed mock $1 million notes. We will count 1 million of these one-by-one over seven days and nights outside the United Nations and in public locations in New York."

"While counting – at $100 million per minute – we will shine the light of shame on companies manufacturing these weapons of mass annihilation, and we will highlight areas of economic, environmental and social need that could instead be met with these funds," Seidman added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 01 April 2018]

Photo: Western States Legal Foundation Executive Director Jackie Cabasso, second from left, at the press conference at the United Nations on March 28. On her right is John Burroughs, and on her left are: Holger Guessfeld, Gene Seidman and Alyn Ware.

IDN is the flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate

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