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Home Articles Flashpoints 'A NUCLEAR WAR CANNOT BE WON AND MUST NEVER BE FOUGHT'

'A NUCLEAR WAR CANNOT BE WON AND MUST NEVER BE FOUGHT'

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 WED 5 JAN 2022

PEOPLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT

http://www.pndnsw.org.au

HUMAN SURVIVAL PROJECT

'A NUCLEAR WAR CANNOT BE WON AND MUST NEVER BE FOUGHT'

(THEN MAKE IT SO!)

 

On 3 Jan 2022, The 'P-5' or the 'official' nuclear weapon states, who happen to coincide with the permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, China, France, the UK, and the USA) released a statement on nuclear disarmament that had been intended for release at the now postponed NPT Review Conference, that, absent the Omicron Variant of COVID, would have been held at UN – Headquarters NY from 4 Jan. The NPT Review conference has been postponed for the 3rd time and may now be held in August.

 

HTTPS://WWW.WHITEHOUSE.GOV/BRIEFING-ROOM/STATEMENTS-RELEASES/2022/01/03/P5-STATEMENT-ON-PREVENTING-NUCLEAR-WAR-AND-AVOIDING-ARMS-RACES/

 

According to the P 5 statement:

We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.  As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons—for as long as they continue to exist—should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war.  We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented”

 

This is a reaffirmation of the famous Reagan-Gorbachev statement of 1985 and 86. The original statement was followed by a pledge 'not to seek military advantage', that the P5 would have done well to emulate and to reaffirm too.

 

Current P5 behavior has been anything but reassuring, with alarming speculation that a Russia-NATO confrontation is set to commence over Ukraine, and that there are various ways in which such a confrontation could escalate to use of nuclear weapons.

 

The recognition that nuclear war could have 'far-reaching consequences' is classic understatement. A large-scale (US vs Russia) nuclear 'exchange' would destroy a large number of the worlds biggest cities as well as military targets within an approximately 90 minute period, converting them into firestorms that would inject black soot into the upper stratosphere, with catastrophic global climatic consequences.

 

The electronic and communications infrastructure on which contemporary society depends would cease to function, returning us to medieval ways of doing things.

 

The P5 statement says that nuclear weapons:

....should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war...”

 

This comes close, some might argue, to a 'sole purpose' policy for nuclear weapons – something that nuclear establishments in both Russia and the USA have resisted (China and India have long had 'No First Use' policies).

 

If the P5 are serious about this they really should adopt policies, postures, and force structures, based on No First Use and 'Sole Purpose'. Thus far they haven't.

 

The P5 say they will:

...pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

 

The reality is that when New START finally lapses, unless a successor agreement is negotiated, there will be NO mutual agreement between the US and Russia to restrain an arms race. Nor are negotiations under way, though there is a 'strategic stability dialogue'.

 

It would be wonderful to be able to take seriously what the P5 have said, and to approve their sudden embrace of the Reagan-Gorbachev declaration. Many of us on the NGO side have put considerable time and effort into urging them to do just exactly that. And this declaration does, hopefully, suggest that the US and Russia (who we understand to have played a significant part in this declaration) do NOT immediately intend to pursue nuclear war with each other.

 

Or so we can hope.

 

However, for this sudden embrace of nuclear risk reduction and arms control (however narrow and limited in scope) to be taken seriously, it must be followed by changes in nuclear posture and policy that truly 'make it real'.

 

If this were done it would:

 

--Take the immediate prospect of a global catastrophe over Ukraine off the agenda

--Clear the way to fulfillment of the P5s neglected NPT Art VI obligations not merely to talk about but to actually achieve, the total and unequivocal elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

 

A webinar will be held on 7 Jan at 1.15pm NY time, on nuclear risk reduction and a nuclear weapons-free world. Registration below:

https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_wnnqbZBLS0GFhDGfJtWp0A

 

John Hallam

Nuclear Disarmament Campaigner,

People for Nuclear Disarmament (PND)

Human Survival Project

Co-Convener, Abolition 2000 Nuclear Risk Reduction Working Group

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 January 2022 15:28