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$Trillions for nuclear weapons, as USA rejects UN nuclear ban conference

What the million-dollar—trillion-dollar modernization means is that when it came down to making deals with Republicans in the Congress, the Obama administration was willing to do a deal on the future of humanity and said, “Look, if you—if we need you to pass legislation through the Senate, and you want more nuclear weapons and more spending on nuclear weapons, we’ll give you that to get what we want.” And the Obama administration made a tragic deal with the Republicans in the Senate. 

But the fact of the matter is, they could have refused to make that deal. But they decided that it was more important to pursue that legislative priority than to think about what the next 30, 40, 50, 60 years will look like. And that is something that we’re now going to have to wrestle with year by year,

And so, this letter from scientists is part of a long-standing effort by scientists from all over the world to make democracy work when it comes to nuclear weapons. And this is what the ban treaty process is also all about, that in the international community, it should not be the most powerful military state in the world that decides what happens in the world, but it should be the majority of the world’s community deciding what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

U.S. Boycotts U.N. Talks on Nuclear Ban While Spending Trillions to Modernize Nuclear Arsenal, Democracy Now, 30 Mar 17  Full interview with Princeton’s Zia Mian about the proposed U.N. nuclear ban treaty, the U.S. boycott and the U.S. trillion-dollar plan to “modernize” its nuclear arsenal. Zia Mian is a physicist, nuclear expert and disarmament activist. He is co-director of the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University………

AMY GOODMAN: President Trump has proposed slashing the budgets of the NIH, the National Institutes of Health, at the same time proposed boosting federal spending on the production of nuclear weapons by more than a billion dollars. Your final response?

ZIA MIAN: Well, the Trump administration’s plan to increase spending on nuclear weapons in perfectly consistent with what President Obama’s administration was also doing, which was increasing spending on nuclear weapons. There is a shared commitment by the U.S. policymaking process on spending a trillion dollars over the next 30 years to modernize the nuclear weapons, the submarines, the bombers and every part of the nuclear weapons production complex to get ready for a hundred more years of nuclear weapons. And this is part of what this U.N. process is trying to block, which is that we are not willing to live with nuclear weapons for another hundred years.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Zia Mian, as we talk about the nuclear nations, many of them saying no, are some saying yes, being a part of these talks?

ZIA MIAN: Not a single nuclear weapon state has actually agreed to be part of the negotiations. And so, first thing is, this is not a debate. This is the negotiation of a treaty, mandated by the General Assembly of the United Nations. This is the first time in the history of the nuclear age, since the first creation of nuclear weapons and the use of nuclear weapons by the United States in 1945, that there has ever been an international treaty negotiation to ban nuclear weapons. Until now, all negotiations have been limited to a handful of countries, mostly the United States and Russia, about how to reduce marginally the weapons that they hold. This is the first time there has ever been an effort for a treaty to actually ban all nuclear weapons for all countries. So it’s no surprise the nuclear weapon states don’t want to be part of this process……..

ZIA MIAN: So, it’s—Trump’s comments reflect a deep and abiding perspective in the United States that nuclear weapons will spread remorselessly and relentlessly to the rest of the world, and that the only way to do this is to make sure we have more and bigger weapons and are more ready to use them than anybody else, and therefore we’ll maintain a decisive advantage over any other state. This is what drove the arms race with the Soviet Union from the very beginning. You have to remember that when the United States made and used nuclear weapons at the end of World War II, for the first few years it was the only country in the world with nuclear weapons. And in 1946, the United Nations, newly formed, passed its very first resolution: Resolution 1. The first thing the United States ever—United Nations ever talked about and agreed on was the need for a plan to eliminate nuclear weapons. And the United States said no.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Is there any reason to believe that it’ll be different this time?

ZIA MIAN: I think what’s different this time is that after 70 years of seeing what nuclear weapons have done, the rest of the world, the 120 countries, which is the vast majority of countries in the world, have decided they do not want this as the future. After 70 years of nuclear weapons, there are still only nine countries with nuclear weapons. There are dozens and dozens of countries that tomorrow could begin to make nuclear weapons, if they wished. But these are countries that are sitting in the room in the United Nations, saying, “We want to make sure that this never happens for anyone,” not that “Let’s all go out and defend ourselves the way that the United States thinks that you should do, which is by the threat to commit genocide by using nuclear weapons.”………

ZIA MIAN: I think all American presidents would consider dropping the bomb. You have to remember, the United States is the only country that had the choice to not do it, but chose to do it. And every president has retained the option, no matter what they’ve said, to use nuclear weapons, including President Obama, despite his promises to work towards a world free of nuclear weapons. He was the one that when the chance came to say we would not use nuclear weapons first in a war, he didn’t do it. And so, the option to go first and to start nuclear war is a right that American presidents have kept to themselves and seek to deny everybody else.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think President Obama paved the way for this with the trillion-dollar modernization of nuclear weapons, that many peace activists oppose? And what does that mean? Does it make it easier to use nuclear weapons?

ZIA MIAN: What the million-dollar—trillion-dollar modernization means is that when it came down to making deals with Republicans in the Congress, the Obama administration was willing to do a deal on the future of humanity and said, “Look, if you—if we need you to pass legislation through the Senate, and you want more nuclear weapons and more spending on nuclear weapons, we’ll give you that to get what we want.” And the Obama administration made a tragic deal with the Republicans in the Senate.

But the fact of the matter is, they could have refused to make that deal. But they decided that it was more important to pursue that legislative priority than to think about what the next 30, 40, 50, 60 years will look like. And that is something that we’re now going to have to wrestle with year by year, because once this process has been put in play, you’ve created enormous vested interests in the nuclear weapons complex, within the military and among the political allies, to try and keep this gravy train for them moving forward for years and years and years. And so, yes, the Obama administration carries an enormous burden of responsibility for this problem.

……..ZIA MIAN: So, the letter from scientists supports the ban treaty, and it’s signed by scientists from all over the world, including many Nobel laureates and people with lifetimes of experience on working on nuclear weapons policy, from many, many countries, including from the United States. …….And this goes back to a long tradition of scientists speaking out about nuclear weapons. So, in 1946, Albert Einstein led a group of scientists and wrote a letter to scientists all over the world, asking for a million dollars to begin a campaign to educate the world about the dangers of nuclear weapons. And that tradition of scientists trying to reach out to the world, to policymakers and to the public, as part of their commitment to the democratic process, to say, “Look, as people and as democracies and as believing that people have the right to decide what their governments do, scientists, who understand these things, have an obligation to tell everyone that this is what nuclear weapons mean, these are the dangers, and you—now that you know, you have to decide what you want from your government.”

And so, this letter from scientists is part of a long-standing effort by scientists from all over the world to make democracy work when it comes to nuclear weapons. And this is what the ban treaty process is also all about, that in the international community, it should not be the most powerful military state in the world that decides what happens in the world, but it should be the majority of the world’s community deciding what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. And so, as you mentioned about Noam Chomsky’s new book, Who Rules the World?, the goal of the ban treaty process, of the very idea of the United Nations, is that the answer to the question “Who rules the world?” is not the people with the biggest and most guns, or in this case the largest number of nuclear weapons, but the majority of countries in the world should decide about how the world works.

AMY GOODMAN: Will many of the scientists who are participating in this letter be in Washington on April 22nd for the March for Science?

ZIA MIAN: Many of the American scientists who signed this letter will certainly be part of the march. But there are scientists all over the world who are committed to this project—……….

ZIA MIAN: What happens at the end of this week is that—the countries have been discussing what should be in the treaty. Now they’ll go away and draft their ideas as text for what could be in the treaty, and then they will come back in June and July and actually negotiate, sentence by sentence, what the draft treaty text is. And the chair of the United Nations negotiating process, who’s an amazing woman ambassador from Costa Rica, is actually going to then present a draft text of a treaty for countries to take back to their capitals and consider. And the hope is that by the end of this year, we may actually begin the process of having countries sign up to a treaty that will declare nuclear weapons to be illegal……..https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/30/us_boycotts_un_talks_on_nuclear

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March 31, 2017 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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