August Meeting: The End of the Nuclear Weapons Age

Photo courtesy of The Official CTBTO @flickr

Sunday, August 6, 2017,  3-:00 – 5:00  p.m.

E.P. Foster Library, Topping Room

On the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima as we again reflect ed on this history, and discussed the July 7, 2017 United Nations’ Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty which has now made all nuclear weapons illegal.

 

On July 7 at the United Nations, 122 nations adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In addition to banning use and threat of use, this new treaty also bans possession, stockpiling, transfer, development, testing, production, manufacturing, and acquisition of nuclear weapons, among other important prohibitions.

This treaty is an important step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. The majority of the world’s nations consider nuclear weapons to be illegal, immoral, and prohibited.

The United States actively boycotted this process and responded to it in a hostile manner. Responding to the newly-adopted treaty in a joint statement, the U.S., UK, and France stated, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.”  While the majority of the world has negotiated in good faith to ban nuclear weapons, the U.S. and other nuclear-armed nations stubbornly continue to cling to the concept of nuclear deterrence. The U.S., for example, is in the process of upgrading its nuclear arsenal and production infrastructure at a cost of over $1 trillion over the next three decades.

Ari Beser, featured in the video above reacted to the news of ICAN receiving the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize:

“I woke up this morning, and I checked my Facebook,” said Ari Beser, who felt energized and optimistic when he learned the news. “There it was.”

Beser attended the UN meeting where 122 nations signed a treaty that could ban nuclear weapons worldwide.

“What I believe it is doing is creating this international pressure,” Beser said. He hopes the Nobel Peace Prize could lend legitimacy to the ban and force nuclear-armed nations to enter a dialogue with ICAN.

The award, he added, could create a “new stigma” around nuclear arms, similar to the stigma attached to biological and chemical weapons.

Beser recalled learning, in 2015, that a group of atomic bomb survivors had been nominated for the prize. At the time, he was interviewing survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while writing a book called, “The Nuclear Family.”

Beser said that his own generation of activists now feel energized to carry on the work of the atomic bomb survivors. “This award doesn’t abolish any of the nuclear weapons,” he said. “This is the rallying call, but it’s not the end of the chapter.”

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