Nuclear security means one law for all
Statement by World Future Council Members and Right Livelihood Laureates calling on world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit to take steps to achieve a sustainable global security through the abolition of nuclear weapons and the phase out of nuclear energy
We applaud the fact that the 58 world leaders, 5,000 delegates and 3,000 journalists will come to the Hague March 24-25 for the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in order to address a very real threat to humanity and the environment, now and into the future.
We support the NSS objective of governments, scientists, law-makers and civil society cooperating to ensure that nuclear materials and technology are under safer and more secure control to prevent the possibility of them being used to make a nuclear device – no matter how crude – and then using this device.
However, the world leaders participating in the Summit should take this opportunity to build sustainable global security by adopting common standards for all, committing to the global prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons, and beginning a phase-out of nuclear energy.
NSS Secretary-General, Renée Jones-Bos, is correct in quoting U.S. President Obama’s statement from Prague 2009, that “In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.”
Unfortunately the governments attending appear unwilling to take the necessary steps to prevent with certainty such a catastrophic use of nuclear weapons.
They are focusing on only one small part of the problem – the acquisition of nuclear weapons or fissile materials by non-State actors – rather than on the larger and more dangerous problems of the possession of over 17,000 nuclear weapons by the nine nuclear armed States, the operational readiness to use many of these weapons within minutes on launch-on-warning policies, the deployment of nuclear weapons to other countries – including the Netherlands where the Summit is taking place, and the continued reliance by some countries on nuclear energy technologies, which fuel nuclear proliferation and create risks of further accidents like those at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
NSS Secretary-General Renée Jones-Bos makes clear the limited focus of the Summit when he says “To be clear, the NSS is not about non-proliferation. It’s about rogue nuclear material. It’s about ensuring that such material does not fall into the wrong hands.”
With regard to nuclear weapons, there are no right hands. The International Court of Justice in The Hague, confirmed in 1996 that the threat or use of nuclear weapons is generally illegal, regardless of who would possess or use such weapons, and that there is an obligation to achieve complete nuclear disarmament.
It’s ironic that this Summit is being held in The Hague, but appears to be ignoring the legal imperative from the highest court in the world situated in the same city. Applying the law against nuclear weapons only to some people (non-State actors) but not to others (State actors) is unsustainable and runs counter to the basis of law, that it should apply equally to all.
We thus support the call from parliamentarians and civil society for world leaders to add nuclear disarmament to the agenda of the Nuclear Security Summits, or to establish a similar high level process to achieve the secure, verified elimination of nuclear weapons.
In addition, the proliferation and environmental risks of nuclear energy can only be eliminated with the phase-out of nuclear energy. Since 1970, countries that have joined the nuclear club have done so through the development first of nuclear energy, and then have used the fissile materials, nuclear technology and know-how from nuclear energy to develop nuclear weapons.
In an age when energy efficiency and safe, sustainable renewable technologies are developing to meet global energy needs, a phase-out of nuclear energy over time is both feasible and imperative.
The World Future Council Members and Right Livelihood Laureates listed below call on governments attending the Nuclear Security Summit to be courageous, honest and responsible and thus raise these issues vital to the safety and security of current and future generations.