By J Nastranis
NEW YORK (IDN) – While governments meet in New York for the first ever United Nations High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament from May 14-16, 2018 campaigners for 'zero nuclear weapons' will be busy counting one million specially designed notes each of $1 million value, adding up to $1 trillion.
The amount of one trillion dollars (with twelve zeros and even eighteen zeros in some countries) is being allocated over the next ten years to 'modernize' the nuclear arsenals of nine countries, which together possess around 15,000 nuclear weapons.
The campaigners are seeking public help so as to enable them count "the nuclear weapons money" between May 10 and 16. The plan is to count $100 million per minute, $6 billion per hour, $146 billion per day for seven days.
"While counting we will highlight economic, social and environmental areas in which this money could instead be invested," said a campaigner.
The significance of the campaign is underlined by the fact that the United States and Russia maintain around 1,800 of their nuclear weapons on high-alert status – ready to be launched within minutes of a warning.
Most of these are many times more powerful than the atomic bombs dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. A single nuclear warhead, if detonated on a large city, could kill millions of people, with the effects persisting for decades, according to experts.
The size of nuclear arsenal in the United States is 6,800 warheads, says the 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate ICAN quoting the Federation of American Scientists. Russia maintains 7,000 warheads, the UK 215, France 300, China 270, India 110-120, Pakistan 120-130, Israel 80, and North Korea 10 warheads.
The corporations making these weapons lobby for increased spending on nuclear weapons, stimulating the nuclear arms race and increasing the risk of a nuclear war, warns 'UNFOLD ZERO'. The companies that make the most from producing nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are: Boeing, Honeywell International, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Other corporations that have a significant involvement in such production are: Safran and Thales in France; Larsen & Toubro in India; Leonardo Finmeccanica in Italy; Airbus in the Netherlands; United Aircraft Corporation and Makeyev Design Bureau in Russia; and BAE Systems as well as Serco in the UK.
Parliamentarians, civil society leaders, artists, sports stars, musicians, activists, religious leaders, youth, war veterans and others have signed up to count the money for 20-30 minutes each.
The project leaders are inviting people to sign-up as money counters and appealing for donations to make the action a success, because it costs money to move the nuclear weapons money.
"Please donate so that we can print the 1 million notes, publicise the action, create a powerful installation of the counted money, and support the advocacy to end investments in nuclear weapons," says UNFOLD ZERO in an appeal.
The New York action is part of Move the Nuclear Weapons Money, a global campaign to cut nuclear weapons budgets, divest from nuclear weapons corporations and move the money to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the climate, supporting renewable energy, creating jobs, and providing adequate healthcare, housing and education for all.
The campaign was launched in October 2016 by the International Peace Bureau, World Future Council and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, building on work these organizations have done for over a decade on nuclear divestment and cutting nuclear weapons budgets.
The campaign now includes a number of other organisations and networks including the Basel Peace Office, Global Security Institute, UNFOLD ZERO, World Federalist Movement and the Abolition 2000 Working Group on Economic Dimensions of Nuclearism. The campaign works closely with the Global Campaign on Military Spending. [IDN-InDepthNews – 13 April 2018]
Photo: Back of a $1 million note, indicating what the money should instead be spent on. Design by Michael Green
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