Ban Nuclear Weapons : Prevent Climate Catastrophe

Before the coronavirus crisis, XR peace planned to be in the streets from 1st June to raise awareness with our next Rebellion for Climate Security, Peace and Justice. To protect our health, care and frontline workers, as well as all vulnerable people (including ourselves and our families ), we’re putting our protests online for the time being, sharing info and other relevant resources.

Here is the fourth leaflet in our series, which highlights the importance of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), a new, multilateral, UN-negotiated treaty that bans the use, production and deployment of nuclear weapons and requires their total abolition. With over three fifths of the UN General Assembly already supporting the Ban Treaty and only 13 states parties to go before 50 governments complete their national processes for ratification, the TPNW is set to enter into full international legal force very soon. As more states join, the Treaty parties will establish new systems to eliminate the weapons safely and implement the whole Treaty.

XR Peace calls on the UK government to sign this UN Treaty now, take its Trident-based nuclear weapons system off deployment and work with the rest of the world to eliminate all nuclear dangers.

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All wars and militarism undermine our security and harm our climate. Nuclear weapons and war cause particularly horrendous suffering and environmental harm, including nuclear winter and mass famine. To prevent this, the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was negotiated in the UN and adopted in July 2017 by 122 states with just one vote against and one abstention. As of today, this Nuclear Ban Treaty has 37 states parties and 81 signatory states. The UK and certain other nuclear armed states have not yet signed. Instead they are trying to enhance and build more nuclear weapons, causing huge risks to the whole world.

Help us abolish nuclear weapons before they abolish us

It is 75 years after the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were flattened by the first two nuclear weapons in 1945. Those “small” atomic bombs killed more than 230,000 people. Over 100,000 were killed instantly in the intense fireballs. Then over weeks and months, many more died from burns, blast injuries and in terrible pain from radiation sickness. The atomic bombs had killed and badly injured 90% of the doctors and nurses in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so it was impossible for local services to provide humanitarian help for the thousands of dead and dying.

Setsuko Thurlow was a 13 year old schoolgirl in Hiroshima when the US atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” destroyed her city on 6th August 1945, killing almost all her friends and some family members. She represented the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (at the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony) and spoke at the United Nations about the fear and pain of that experience and the terrible suffering she witnessed, she would remember: “each person who died had a name; each person had someone who loved them”.

Since 1945, the world has been brought close to nuclear war several times due to leadership mistakes and computer errors. We can’t risk more mistakes with nuclear weapons.

Just a fraction of today’s nuclear weapons would contaminate the Earth and cause “nuclear winter“. The mushroom clouds from incinerated cities would disrupt the world’s climate systems and destroy agriculture, natural ecosystems and food resources. Global famine and disease would follow, killing an estimated two billion people.

The “Trident” missiles on just one UK nuclear armed submarine are all it would take to cause climate devastation and nuclear winter.

Despite widespread support in Britain and around the world, the UK government boycotted the UN’s multilateral negotiations and is refusing even to take preparatory steps to comply. Instead, it is pouring billions of pounds into upgrading UK nuclear weapons and submarines.

The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is important because it stigmatises nuclear weapons as inhumane and abhorrent, comprehensively bans these weapons of mass destruction, and then provides legal provisions that governments and multilateral institutions will be able to build on to eliminate all nuclear arsenals safely and securely.

Unlike other nuclear treaties, the TPNW applies to everyone, and clearly prohibits developing, testing, manufacturing, stockpiling, acquiring and possessing nuclear armaments. It bans stationing, installing and deploying nuclear weapons, and also outlaws actions that “assist, encourage or induce” anyone to commit any actions that are prohibited by the Treaty.

Already the Nuclear Ban Treaty is reducing the value of these WMD and diminishing the political power and status that some states and leaders have attached to nuclear arms for far too long.

When it enters into international legal force, which could be in 2020 or soon after, the Nuclear Ban Treaty will help to reduce nuclear risks while working to eliminate them completely. As a Treaty under International Humanitarian Law, the Nuclear Ban Treaty goes beyond the states that are currently reluctant to sign Many of its provisions can also be taken up and applied to nuclear-related activities of banks, investors, manufacturers, city officials, parliamentarians, decision-makers – and all of us!