MPI: "A New Moment in Nuclear Disarmament"

by Jim Wurst

 

Using the historic outcome of the 2000 NPT Review Conference as its touchstone, the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI) is setting out to help strengthen the growing international movement challenging the great powers’ status quo insistence on the retention of nuclear weapons.

The contents of the NPT final document include 13 steps needed to move towards fulfilling the Article VI obligations for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Much of the language reflects the priorities of the New Agenda Coalition (NAC). In particular, there is "an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament." (See John Burroughs’ report on the NPT.)

Dr. Ron McCoy, IPPNW, and Alyn Ware, LCNP, at the Thinker's
Lodge, Pugwash, Canada. Photo by Jim Wurst

wpeC.jpg (11009 bytes)
In his analysis of the Conference, "An Unequivocal Landmark," MPI Chairman Douglas Roche wrote, "a new moment in nuclear disarmament has occurred."

The document "has something that gives the nuclear weapons abolition movement the strongest political base it has ever had: the door to the long-standing NWS [Nuclear Weapons States] doctrine of nuclear deterrence has cracked open. The total elimination of nuclear weapons is now accepted by the NWS." Therefore, Roche writes, the conditions are "ripe for a new grand coalition - of like-minded governments and the advanced wing of civil society - to be formed. Such a powerful combination can not only dent but pierce the NWS self-serving, protective armor." (This analysis was published by Project Ploughshares and is available on its website: www.ploughshares.ca)

In his analysis of the Conference, "An Unequivocal Landmark," MPI Chairman Douglas Roche wrote, "a new moment in nuclear disarmament has occurred."

The document "has something that gives the nuclear weapons abolition movement the strongest political base it has ever had: the door to the long-standing NWS [Nuclear Weapons States] doctrine of nuclear deterrence has cracked open. The total elimination of nuclear weapons is now accepted by the NWS." Therefore, Roche writes, the conditions are "ripe for a new grand coalition - of like-minded governments and the advanced wing of civil society - to be formed. Such a powerful combination can not only dent but pierce the NWS self-serving, protective armor." (This analysis was published by Project Ploughshares and is available on its website: www.ploughshares.ca )

Hoping to build on this momentum, MPI is looking ahead to the next year and beyond for avenues to promote the NAC agenda and hold the NWS to their newly-minted commitments.

The first step took place at the historic Thinkers’ Lodge at Pugwash, Canada, in July. One of MPI’s most effective tools has been the strategy consultations - low-profile meetings with broad governmental and NGO participation and a focused action-oriented theme.

In keeping with that tradition, the Pugwash Consultation invitees included MPI members and other NGOs, officials from NAC countries, funders, and a representative from the United Nations.

At the heart of the discussion was one question: what should be MPI’s priorities for the next five years? Facing the conflicting realities that the NPT final document commits the NWS to elimination, but their national policies consistently contradict those commitments, MPI is examining several, interlocking strategies. Besides support for the NPT decisions and the New Agenda, MPI will encourage the NATO doctrine review to move away from deterrence to a non-nuclear defense policy and work to counter the damage to arms control that would be caused by the US plans to deploy ballistic missile defenses.

In a position paper, "Re-Thinking NATO’s Nuclear Policy," MPI argues the NPT Conference final document challenges the concept of deterrence, the underpinning of NATO doctrine. "Unless [NATO] is seen to move rapidly to make its [nuclear] posture coherent with the NPT Review final document, it will stand condemned as the primary impediment to genuine nuclear disarmament," MPI says.

MPI suggests NATO foreign ministers conduct a comprehensive review of their nuclear strategy that should include:

• harmonizing the NATO Strategic Concept with the 2000 NPT Review

• dealerting US and Russian nuclear forces

• reconsidering deterrence

• withdrawing NATO’s nuclear arsenals

• negotiating a tactical nuclear weapons treaty, and

• establishing a Central/Eastern Europe nuclear weapon free zone.

 

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