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11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

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11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]

11.16 Trump’s latest interview shows a president who’s in way over his head

11.16 Why the political fight in Georgia is far from over

11.16 Florida judge sides with Democrats, giving thousands a second chance to fix their ballots

11.15 Democrats Won Big. Can They Go Bold, Too? [it's about suppressing the influence and leadership by Republican-like Democrats who counsel 'íncremental' (no) change, such as Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Shumer and Joe Biden]

11.15 Pentagon Officials Forced to Make Fewer Public Appearances to Avoid Provoking Trump [...by revealing Trump's huuuge ignorance]

11.15 REPUBLICANS USED A BILL ABOUT WOLVES TO AVOID A VOTE ON YEMEN WAR [if there are 'defense industry' profits to be made—including congress-critter insider-trading—and political 'donations' to be had, we mustn't stop killing innocent civilians!]

11.15 Big Oil v the planet is the fight of our lives. Democrats must choose a side

11.14 The Real Florida Recount Fraud

11.14 Telling NRA #ThisIsOurLane, Doctors' Photos Show Blood-Soaked Reality of America's Gun Madness

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High Crimes?

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11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

11.14 Brexit: May tells her cabinet, this is the deal – now back me

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11.15 Cuba to pull doctors out of Brazil after President-elect Bolsonaro comments [terms must be negotiated for fairness to Cuba's health professionals without disruption of healthcare for Brazil's poor]

11.14 'Appalling' Khashoggi audio shocked Saudi intelligence – Erdogan [Exposing a psychopath?]

11.14 Israel and Hamas launch hundreds of attacks in Gaza clash

11.14 Mueller seeking more details on Nigel Farage, key Russia inquiry target says

11.13 Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

11.13 Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.

11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

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  The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Past & Present

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE:

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Past & Present

by Lawrence S. Wittner
Thanks to a lingering belief that national security ultimately lies in military strength, nations have resisted honoring their full obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The opening this May of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference at the United Nations seems likely to feature a conflict that has simmered for decades between nuclear nations and non-nuclear nations.

By the mid-1960s, five nations had developed a nuclear weapons capability: the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and, most recently, China. But numerous other nations were giving serious consideration to joining the nuclear club. They included Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, and West Germany. Millions of people and many governments feared that the nuclear arms race—already dangerous enough—was on the verge of spiraling totally out of control.

In this context, the U.S. and Soviet governments suddenly found something upon which they could both agree. Having amassed vast nuclear arsenals for their Cold War confrontation with one another, both decided that it would be a good idea if other nations refrained from developing nuclear weapons. Thus, in the fall of 1965, the two governments submitted nonproliferation treaties to the U.N. General Assembly. “Both superpowers really got behind the Nonproliferation Treaty,” recalled U.S. Secretary of State Dean Rusk, “because we and the Soviets basically were on the same wavelength.”

But the non-nuclear powers sharply objected to the U.S. and Soviet proposals, which they pointed out—correctly—would establish a two-tier system. Alva Myrdal, Sweden’s disarmament minister and a leading proponent of nuclear disarmament, declared that “the non-aligned nations . . . strongly believe that disarmament measures should be a matter of mutual renunciation.” They did not want a treaty that “would leave the present five nuclear-weapon parties free to continue to build up their arsenals.”

The governments of numerous NATO nations raised the same objection. Willy Brandt, West Germany’s foreign minister, maintained that a nonproliferation treaty was justified “only if the nuclear states regard it as a step toward restrictions of their own armaments and toward disarmament.” In short, non-nuclear nations were unwilling to forgo the nuclear option in the absence of a similar commitment by the nuclear nations.

As a result, the NPT was reshaped to provide for mutual obligations on the part of non-nuclear and nuclear nations. Under its terms, each non-nuclear signatory pledged “not to make or acquire nuclear weapons,” as well as to accept a safeguard system, administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency, to prevent diversion of nuclear material from nuclear reactors to nuclear weapons development. Furthermore, Article VI of the final version provided that nuclear signatories would “pursue negotiations in good faith at an early date on effective measures regarding cessation of the nuclear arms race and disarmament.”

On June 12, 1968, this revised NPT, now incorporating provisions for both nonproliferation and disarmament, swept through the U.N. General Assembly by a vote of 95 to 4, with 21 abstentions. Although, ominously, a number of nations with nuclear ambitions refused to ratify the treaty, the NPT did provide an important milestone in global efforts to avert nuclear catastrophe.

In some ways, the NPT was a success. After it went into force in 1970, almost all nations capable of building nuclear weapons rejected this option. Furthermore, through disarmament treaties and individual action, the nuclear nations divested themselves of a significant number of their nuclear weapons.

Today, 42 years after the signing of the NPT, more than 23,000 nuclear weapons remain in existence and the number of nuclear powers has grown from five to nine.

Even so, thanks to a lingering belief that national security ultimately lies in military strength, nations have resisted honoring their full obligations under the NPT. The nuclear powers delayed implementing their rhetorical commitment to full-scale nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, some non-nuclear nations, charging the nuclear powers with hypocrisy, began to develop nuclear weapons themselves. Today, 42 years after the signing of the NPT, more than 23,000 nuclear weapons remain in existence and the number of nuclear powers has grown from five to nine.

Thus, the NPT review conference this May could simply continue the old game of duplicity and delay. Nuclear nations could avoid making plans to eliminate their very substantial nuclear arsenals, while demanding that other countries remain non-nuclear. Non-nuclear nations could point to the failure of the nuclear nations to disarm and use that as their justification for joining the nuclear club.

But there is an alternative. The world public might decide that enough is enough—that it’s time to move beyond the cautious, half-way measures of the past and bring an end to the terrible danger of nuclear annihilation. That would require a massive outpouring of public sentiment, this May and in the following months, demanding nothing less than the abolition of nuclear weapons. Such an outpouring would provide a solid basis on which reluctant government officials might finally do what they should long ago have done: take effective action to build a nuclear weapons-free world.


Dr. Wittner is Professor of History at the State University of New York/Albany. His latest book is Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement (Stanford University Press).



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This story was published on April 27, 2010.

 

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