Contributed by Jim Hayes
A group of 256 former world leaders has called for the world to get nuclear arms control back on track, in an open letter to be delivered to this week’s G7 meeting in Japan. Having the names of 6 former heads of state, 20 cabinet-level ministers and experts from 50 different countries including China, Russia and the US lends weight to this initiative.
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Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, the victim of a nuclear bomb during the closing of World War Two, has called for the world’s powers to at least agree to a timetable for a roadmap to renew arms control talks.
Photo by Richard A Brooks/AFP/Getty: The Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, where the G7 meeting is taking place
On 8 April 2010 the United States and Russia signed what is called the New Start II treaty, which replaced the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991. It did not work, because the United States failed to keep up its side of the agreement. The first treaty, renamed Start1, expired in 2009.
The two powers were supposed to engage on partial denuclearisation, while still maintaining formidable stocks. A major problem was that the terms imposed by the United States on a weakened Russia after the collapse of the soviet union, ensured that it would maintain a superior position in terms of payload and delivery systems. A special concern for Russia was the growth of the U.S. Nuclear Missile shield in Europe.
Start II was supposed to meet new targets by its expiration date in 2021. It incorporated of increasing the time period, if the targets were not met. This is the way it unfolded and continues until the present time.
Meanwhile, the United States has still failed to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) signed in September 1996. Then there was the refusal to sign the 2 January 2021 United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, despite it having been signed by more than 50 countries. Washington is openly hostile to this. When a cross party group of members of the Australian federal parliament signed an open letter calling on Australia to support this United Nations Treaty, Washington warned Australia not to do it and threatened repercussions.
Photo by Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty: Showing their support for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in New York BCK IN 2021
The Start II condition that each side is allowed onsite inspections of the other has been violated under the watch of the Biden administration. Negotiations towards the next stage, a Start III have not even begun.
These actions cast doubt on the real intentions of the world’s biggest nuclear power. Together with the deteriorating political environment, this has put a stop to progress. Russia walked out of Start II in February this year.
Consequently, the world has become a more dangerous place. This has prompted calls for a new effort to turn the situation around and regain the course towards nuclear disarmament. The truth is that instead of decreasing the number of nuclear weapons in increasing, and they are becoming ore sophisticated. This is being led by the two biggest nuclear powers, and this is prompting the other nuclear powers to follow suite.
Change begins with the United States and Russia. They account for 90 percent of all existing nuclear weapons and must show the lead. If they take serious steps and approach total denuclearisation, it will provide the conditions for the other nuclear power to follow suit and remove this treat from humanity and the planet.