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Publications: eNews No. 7

December 2005, No. 7
From: John Burroughs, Executive Director

In this eNews:



It’s nice to go into the New Year with a bit of good news. We were very glad when Mohamed ElBaradei and the IAEA won the Nobel Peace Prize. As staunch opponents of the Iraq war, shown among other things by our participation in the phenomenal May 2004 New York session of the World Tribunal on Iraq (see presentation by Peter Weiss), we appreciated the commendation of a man who withstood enormous pressure to declare clearly, prior to the invasion, that Iraq had no nuclear weapons program.

Ignoring the October 7 announcement of the award to ElBaradei, President Bush, defending the Iraq war on Veteran’s Day, November 11, said that “it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began…. [Critics] know that intelligence agencies from around the world agreed with our assessment of Saddam Hussein. They know the United Nations passed more than a dozen resolutions citing his development and possession of weapons of mass destruction.”

A November 14 Institute for Public Accuracy (www.accuracy.org) release that resulted in numerous radio interviews quoted me as follows:

"The International Atomic Energy Agency's head Mohamed ElBaradei was very clear in early 2003 that there was no evidence of a reconstituted Iraqi nuclear program. ElBaradei said that they needed only three more months to confirm the absence of a program, but they didn't get that three months because Bush started the invasion. Hans Blix, head of UNMOVIC, responsible for chemical and biological weapons inspections, was saying at the same time that they had not found any programs or weapons but that there were still uncertainties regarding Iraq's accounting for destruction of prohibited materials and that they wanted to continue their inspections. It was then and is now flatly untrue to say that the world was agreed that there were mass destruction weapons or programs in Iraq; the responsible UN agencies were not at all reaching that conclusion."

Another thing we appreciate: ElBaradei’s clarity about the need to eliminate nuclear weapons globally. In responding to the announcement of the award, he said that it “recognizes the urgency of addressing the dangers we face: nuclear proliferation, nuclear armaments [i.e., those held by the established nuclear powers], and nuclear terrorism,” and “will lend prominence and impetus to the IAEA´s ultimate objective - of passing to our children a world free of nuclear weapons ….”


As ElBaradei noted, one of the dangers identified by the Nobel Committee in making the award is nuclear terrorism. Since the September 11 attacks, it has been perhaps the most emphasized aspect of the multi-faceted nuclear problem. Here at LCNP we support the preventive approach most commonly talked about, securing nuclear materials and explosives in Russia and around the world. But unlike many analysts these days, we also stress that the world must not ignore the elephant in the room, the ongoing reliance on large nuclear forces by the United States and a handful of other countries.

As I told a September conference at the City University of New York, “Shield New York Against Nuclear and Bio-Terrorism”: “Please try to imagine how much more effective this country would be in preventing the spread and the possible terrorist use of nuclear weapons if in its own security policy the role of nuclear weapons was marginalized rather than given a central place. To get something, you must give something. There must be reciprocity. If the United States wants effective implementation of obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Security Council resolutions that are essential to preventing nuclear materials from getting into the hands of terrorists, it must fulfill its side of the nonproliferation/disarmament bargain. There is great potential for cooperation out there in the world. But good faith must be shown to elicit that cooperation.” (see full statement)


U.S. reciprocity and good faith, though, is a scarce commodity. LCNP joined with other NGOs to press for inclusion of disarmament and non-proliferation commitments in the September World Summit at the United Nations. But largely due to tactics of the new U.S. ambassador, John Bolton, aside from the convention on physical protection of nuclear materials, the outcome document shockingly omitted any reference to action on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, as we explained in a letter to the House International Relations Committee. The United States was also intransigent in opposing spirited and creative General Assembly resolutions seeking progress on reduction and elimination of nuclear arsenals, as program associate Michael Spies and I reported in Reaching Critical Will’s First Committee Monitor (see especially the overview issue).

But middle power countries like Canada, Mexico, and Malaysia are working hard to find a path forward. They are well assisted by the international civil society coalition in which LCNP and its parent International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms participate, the Middle Powers Initiative, a program of the Global Security Institute. MPI’s Article VI Forum held its first meeting at the UN in October, attended by 28 countries. On another front, representing civil society, international coordinator Alyn Ware spoke at the opening plenary of the November meeting in Santiago of OPANAL, the Latin American nuclear weapon free zone organization. The regional NWFZs are increasing their coordination and cooperation; the first ever conference of NWFZs was held in April in Mexico City, where Alyn also participated.

While welcoming the recent defeat in Congress of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (at least in its current form) and last year’s rebuff of the nuclear weapons “advanced concepts” initiative, LCNP has also warned (in the summer Harvard International Review and elsewhere) about the dangers of the substituted “reliable replacement warhead” program: it violates the NPT disarmament obligation by projecting retention of nuclear forces for decades to come; and by giving the weapons establishment a new lease on life, it creates the opportunity for development of modified and new-design warheads.

On the non-proliferation side of the equation, with other NGOs we (especially Michael Spies) have been meeting this fall with diplomats regarding the confrontation with Iran to urge a negotiated outcome. We have our doubts about the wisdom and the stated legal basis of recent U.S-backed efforts to refer the Iran situation to the U.N. Security Council. (More to come on this.) We call for preventive military action, including the nuclear option, to be taken off the table and for renewed efforts toward a diplomatic solution. While it is important to curb the spread of nuclear fuel cycle technologies, this must be done in a way that does not irreparably damage the non-proliferation regime, already beleaguered by insufficient progress on the disarmament obligation contained in Article VI of the NPT.


LCNP continues to host the international coordinator for Global Action to Prevent War. The coordinator is now Waverly de Bruijn (coordinator@globalactionpw.org); she succeeded Jennifer Nordstrom (who moved to Reaching Critical Will) in September. In addition to its overall program, Global Action now has a well-developed project for a UN Emergency Peace Service; the project has gained some traction, at least among leading civil society groups, and significant funding from the Ford Foundation.


LCNP board member Nicole Deller and I have a piece on the UN Charter and the Iraq war in a new, extensive collection of essays, Neo-Conned! Again (IHS Press, 2005). The conclusion of our analysis: the invasion violated the Charter.

Beyond Hiroshima is a marvelous new book by Douglas Roche, chair of the Middle Powers Initiative and former Canadian ambassador for disarmament. In addition to marshalling the case for nuclear abolition, in a highly readable way Beyond Hiroshima covers the latest developments: the 2005 NPT Review Conference, including the contributions of LCNP and other NGOs; the August events in Japan marking the 60th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings; the emergence of a vibrant new abolition movement, Mayors for Peace, led by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba and Nagasaki Mayor Iccho Ito; and much more. It’s available for $25 including shipping and handling from LCNP.

Finally, please consider making an end of the year, tax-deductible donation to LCNP, by check to the below address or online via the below Network for Good link. We could not carry on without the support of individual donors. If you make a donation of $50 or more, let us know if you would like to receive Beyond Hiroshima as a gift.

Best wishes for a more peaceful New Year,

John Burroughs
Executive Director

Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy
211 E. 43d St., Suite 1204
New York, NY 10017 USA
tel 212 818 1861; fax 212 818 1857


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