The nations that have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) met in Vienna for three days in June to plan more follow-up implementation after ratification. Some other supporters joined with them. See information at www.icanw.org Also, a great number of non-governmental peace supporters attended. Many of them were from the global South, and many were young adults.
This short article was posted there when the meeting began: https://www.icanw.org/first_meeting_of_states_parties_begins
These two links were posted near the meeting’s end: https://www.icanw.org/tpnw1msp_press_release and https://www.icanw.org/1msp_declaration_and_action_plan_adopted
The proceedings were recorded. You can watch the recording and get more information here: https://nuclearbantreaty.org/live-from-vienna-us-civil-society-at-the-tpnw-first-meeting-of-states-parties/
The TPNW calls for follow-up meetings of the nations (“states”) that have ratified it. The first such meeting occurred in Vienna on June 21-23, 2022. Of course, the 9 nations that own nuclear weapons boycotted it, but some NATO allies — including a few that are hosting U.S. nuclear weapons in their countries — did participate as observers.
U.S. news media continue to refuse to cover the historically and existentially crucial Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). Many other nations – especially in the global South – care deeply. By the very end of June 2022, 66 nations have ratified the Treaty.
The information I’m posting below came from a very savvy organization based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where 100% of the highly enriched uranium for the U.S.’s nuclear weapons was produced. See information about the organization at www.orepa.org and see my TV interview with Ralph Hutchison at this link — https://parallaxperspectives.org/the-new-nuclear-arms-race-is-happening-in-oak-ridge-tennessee — where you can watch the TV video and/or read the thorough summary I typed up (including links to more information).
Here is what Ralph sent out a few days before the TPNW meeting in Vienna:
Germany is going. And Norway and The Netherlands. Yesterday, Australia announced it is going. And today Belgium.
What is the United States afraid of?
Why is the USA, along with eight other nuclear-armed states, boycotting the historic First Meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons taking place in Vienna this week, June 21-23.
The First Meeting was originally scheduled for one year after the entry into force, but covid pushed it back. It is a brief meeting, just three days. States party to the Treaty will attend along with countless members of civil society. Non-party states, like the US, are also invited to attend in Observer status. Organizations in the US representing hundreds of thousands of members have written to the President, urging him to send a representative. Several members of Congress have also written to the President, urging the same thing.
But the US continues to lead the staunch resistance to the Treaty. More than one US President has declared that we have a special obligation to lead the effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons—our current position on the Treaty turns this obligation on its head.
Happily for the future, though, our leadership powers appear to be dwindling. Several NATO countries, including three that currently have US nuclear weapons deployed on military bases in their country — Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands — have announced they will attend the First Meeting. Two other important US allies, Norway and Australia, will also send observers.
As the power of the United States and other nuclear armed states declines in the face of the growing influence of the Treaty, two questions come to mind—
First, what is the US afraid of? With a stockpile of more than 4,000 nuclear warheads and bombs, 1500 of them deployed around the globe on hair-trigger alert, one would think the US would be strong enough to walk into a room where the only weapons allowed are words and defend its position. And, if it is committed to pursue nuclear disarmament as it promised in the 1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, it should welcome the chance to talk about what that could look like— all the nuclear armed nations coming to an agreement on protocols, verifications, and an enforceable timetable for eliminating nuclear stockpiles.
It’s not hard to understand why North Korea is not at the First Meeting — they have something to be afraid of. They are weak and vulnerable without their small cache of nuclear weapons, and US policy gives them every reason to be afraid. But the US?
The second question is, what is to come? The TPNW is destined to grow as more nations ratify it—86 nations have signed and 62 of them have ratified it. The TPNW is their demand—they have the right to live free from the threat of nuclear annihilation. They know that even a moderate nuclear exchange between two countries half way around the world can destroy them through fallout and the global famine caused by the decade-long nuclear winter that will follow.
As the Treaty grows in power, and as its central message takes hold — that discussions about nuclear weapons must include the human and environmental cost of these weapons, a price some have already paid and the rest will one day pay if we don’t eliminate nuclear weapons — pressure will mount on the nuclear-armed states.
Vladimir Putin’s bully rhetoric as he invaded Ukraine laid bare the nuclear threat. It is real. Putin could never have invaded Ukraine without widespread opposition if he wasn’t backed up by his nuclear weapons. He didn’t have to make his threat explicit to the US and NATO, but he did, and other people noticed and began thinking about nuclear weapons for the first time in decades.
What happens when Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands decide not to continue to host US/NATO nuclear weapons on their soil? Will Italy and Turkey follow suit? Will the US try to strongarm some other country into taking the nukes? Will we hear that as the call of the future? Or will we hunker down, isolated even more, depending even more on our nuclear weapons to certify our strength rather than relying on the strength inherent in the people, the resources, and the political commitment to democracy of our nation?
The decision by NATO nations and other allies to attend the First Meeting of States Parties is ground-breaking and it portends a shift that is coming. Nuclear weapons, and the nations that continue to maintain stockpiles, will be further stigmatized; we will find ourselves on the periphery of the community of nations in ways that truly matter.
ICAN’s Beatrice Fihn has noted that the story of nuclear weapons will have one of two endings — either we will get rid of nuclear weapons or they will get rid of us. There is no other ending. She is right, of course. As long as nuclear weapons exist in the world, the first ending is a possibility that grows ever more probable. The recent action by Putin, and North Korea’s continuing missile testing are a wake-up call to those who stopped paying attention, thinking it couldn’t happen.
It can happen, and it will one day. Intentionally, or accidentally, a mistake, a hack—unless we do the only thing we can do to make sure it does not happen. We have to get rid of the weapons. The path to the future is titled “The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.” The US should be leading the world down this path. We have an obligation like no other.