Miles To Go

To date all 190 states party to NPT–Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons–have recognised the ‘‘catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons’’, the next step is, as said by the International Committee of the Red Cross, to ‘‘outlaw and eliminate them’’. But the million-dollar question is who will bell the cat? Nowhere in the world politicians are serious enough to make the world nuclear-weapons free. Anti-nuclear movement is led by civic society groups and some NGOs.

Almost seventy years after the first use of nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, about 17,000 continue to threaten the very survival of humankind.

The few countries that keep these weapons of mass destruction are planning to spend more than one trillion US dollars over the next decade to maintain, and modernise them. More than one trillion US dollars over ten years, or $100,000,000,000 per year.

While the majority of that comes from taxpayers in the nuclear armed countries, a new report, shows that the private sector is investing over $314,349,920,000 in the private companies that produce, maintain, and modernise the nuclear arsenals in France, India, the UK and the US.

Of late some 124 countries around the world, including reluctant nuclear umbrella states such as Japan, have endorsed a landmark statement stressing that it is "in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances". Something is better than nothing!

In fact, as ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, points out, in 2013 alone the number of states and international organisations compelled by the undeniable evidence of the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons to express deep concern about the limited progress of nuclear disarmament has grown exponentially.
In March 2013, the conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, convened in Oslo by the Government of Norway, concluded that no international reaction plan could effectively be put in place to respond to a nuclear detonation.

In September the first high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament, summoned by the UN General Assembly (UNGA), despite resistance from nuclear-armed states, put focus on the humanitarian approach and numerous calls to ban nuclear weapons. Building on this momentum, the Government of Mexico has announced a conference to continue the discussion around the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, to be held on 13-14 February 2014 in Nayarit on the country's Pacific Coast.

In truth the civil society throughout the world is confronted with an important challenge today : "to develop a common language so that both nuclear-weapon-states and non-nuclear-weapon states can engage in productive dialogue". But this common language remains elusive.

Why there are miles to go to usher in a nuclear weapons free world is illustrated by the IKV Pax Christi and IC AN report, Don’t Bank on the Bomb. It is the only report to feature how 298 private and public financial institutions from around the world invest almost USD 314 billion in 27 companies involved in the production, maintenance and modernisation of nuclear weapons.

The report's executive summary lists all financial institutions which are found to have financing relationships with nuclear weapon producers. 175 are based in North America, 65 in Europe, 47 in Asia-Pacific, ten in the Middle East, and one in Africa. None are based in Latin America or the Caribbean. Among the banks and other financial institutions most heavily involved are: Bank of America, BlackRock and JP Morgan Chase in the United States; Royal Bank of Scotland in the UK; BNP Paribas in France; Deutsche Bank in Germany; and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial in Japan.

Several states and financial institutions have spoken out against the risks and effects of these weapons of mass destruction, but as the study's worldwide research shows, in the last three years financial institutions provided: loans for a total of at least $63 billion; investment banking services worth at least $43 billion; and owned or managed shares and bonds for at least $207 billion. In other words there is no immediate possibility of a nuclear weapons free world.   [contributed]

Vol. 46, No. 22, Dec 8 - 14, 2013

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