October 2013 E-News

October is one of the busiest months for Reaching Critical Will. We are already more than a week into the 2013 session of First Committee and have produced two editions of the First Committee Monitor. We are also co-hosting four side events this year on nuclear weapons, fully autonomous weapons, and gender-based violence in the Arms Trade Treaty. If you’re in New York and planning to attend First Committee, please check out the calendar of events for more details.

We’ve also just released a new paper ahead of the 2014 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty preparatory committee that examines the complimentarity between the NPT and banning nuclear weapons. This paper will be presented at one of our First Committee events.

On chemical weapons in Syria, actions are happening quickly, with the government’s accession to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the establishment of a joint OPCW-UN mission to eliminate the stockpiles. A lot also happened in September on nuclear weapons and small arms and light weapons and there are updates on all of those activities below.

In peace,
Ray Acheson, Director

New publication on the NPT and banning nuclear weapons

npt-banRecently renewed attention to nuclear weapons as instruments of terror and destruction rather than of security and prestige has reinvigorated global determination to eliminate them once and for all. For many, a key strand of the humanitarian discourse on nuclear weapons is the call for negotiations to commence on a new treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons. Some have expressed concern that such a treaty would cut across the NPT and divert attention from it. A new paper from RCW, Preventing collapse: the NPT and a ban on nuclear weapons, paper argues that rather than constituting a challenge to the NPT, a process to ban nuclear weapons that arises from the discussion around the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has the potential to prevent the NPT’s collapse.

First Committee: on now!

The 2013 session of the UN General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament and International Security is currently underway. Catch up by reading the First Committee Monitor and government statements. There are many side events still remaining in the calendar for those planning to attend.

High-level meeting on nuclear disarmament

On 26 September 2013, the UN General Assembly hosted a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament. The overwhelming majority of countries participating in the event condemned the continued existence of nuclear weapons and called for their banning and elimination. While some of the nuclear-armed states spoke disparagingly about the meeting’s importance, the rest of the international community demanded immediate action to remove the scourge of these weapons of terror once and for all.

UNGA high-level debate

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) held its general debate from 24 September–1 October. As usual, disarmament and arms control themes were prominent at the debate, with key issues this year including the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the recent adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty text. Read the full report and see what governments raised during the debate.

UN Security Council resolution on small arms

On 26 September 2013, the UN Security Council adopted its first ever resolution on small arms and light weapons (SALW) with 14 votes in favor and 1 abstention (Russia). Among other things, the resolution recognizes the interrelationship between small arms and light weapons, women, peace and security, and human rights. Several of its paragraphs deal with women’s participation in small arms-related decision-making or with the link between small arms and gender-based violence. However, it must be noted that the top sellers of arms are represent by the permanent members of the UN Security Council. The policies of arms exporters are incongruent and contradictory, and often unquestioned. Read the full report.

Eighth CTBT Article XIV Conference

The Eighth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was chaired by Hungary’s foreign minister János Martonyi and Indonesia’s foreign minister Marty Natelegawa on 27 September 2013. Participating states highlighted their concerns with the continued refusal of some states to ratify the Treaty, ongoing nuclear tests—both explosive and non-explosive; and the continued possession, deployment, and modernization of nuclear weapons, which threatens humanity and wastes vast sums of money. Delegates also highlighted the achievements of the international monitoring system, commended moratoria against nuclear tests, and welcomed the creation of the new Group of Eminent Persons to promote the CTBT’s entry into force. Read the full report.

Upcoming Events

UN General Assembly First Committee
7 October–5 November 2013 | New York, USA

Nuclear Exits: Countries Foregoing the Nuclear Option
18–19 October 2013 | Helsinki, Finland

Time to Go
20 October 2013 | Brussels, Belgium

Seventh Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Protocol V of the CCW
11–12 November 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

Fifteenth Annual Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II of the CCW
13 November 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

2013 Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons
14–15 November 2013 | Geneva, Switzerland

Drones Around the Globe: Proliferation and Resistance
16–17 November 2013 | Washington, DC, USA

Featured News

Update of Don’t Bank on the Bomb released

ICAN partner IKV Pax Christi has released an update of the study on the financing of nuclear weapons. The report finds that financial institutions from around the world invest almost 314 billion US dollar in nuclear weapons producers.

Nun faces up to 30 years in prison for protesting at nuclear weapons facility

Sister Megan Rice, 83, and two fellow peace activists staged a non-violent protest to symbolically disarm the Oak Ridge Y-12 nuclear weapons facility, home to the nation's main supply of highly enriched uranium, in July 2012. This week, a judge denied a motion to acquit them of interfering with national security under the sabotage section of the US criminal code, which carries the harshest prison sentence of up to 20 years.

OPCW wins the Nobel Peace Prize

In recognition for its work in eliminating chemical weapons around the world, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

More cost overruns at the US nuclear weapons complex

A project to replace an aging and degrading radioactive waste treatment facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory is 11 years behind schedule and its price tag has nearly tripled because of ineffective management, according to a government audit.

Nuclear personal not fit for duty

Maj. Gen. Michal Carey commander of the 20th Air Force was relieved from duty on 11 October 2013 due to a “loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment.” The 20th Air Force maintains and operates for all three of the United States’ intercontinental ballistic missile wings. Only two weeks prior it was reported that, the deputy commander of Strategic Command had been suspended on 3 September 2013. Navy Vice Adm. Tim Giardina had become the subject of an investigation by the Naval Criminal investigative Service in connection with the discovery of counterfeit chips used in a casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa.  

Toxic water from Fukushima nuclear plant leaks into the sea

The clean-up of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant continues to face serious challenges. On 3 October 2013 the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co, (Tepco) announced that another 430 litres have “likely flowed into a trench leading to the Pacific Ocean.” Earlier this year Tepco had revealed that over 300 tonnes of highly contaminated water had leaked, however it could not determine where it leaked out or to where it had leaked. The Japanese nuclear regulation authority on 9 October 2013 announced that radioactive material was found on six of the eleven workers working in a warehouse in which 10 tonnes of radioactive water had spilled from a pipe was mistakenly removed.

Recommended Reading

Where is the ‘Global Red Line’ for Nuclear Weapons?” Huffington Post, 26 September 2013

Angela Kane, “The Nuclear Disarmament Regime?” EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Conference, 30 September 2013

Madhusree Mukerjee, “Is Nuclear Power Compatible With Democracy?” Huffington Post, 2 October 2013

ICAN interview with Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control, 7 October 2013

Susi Snyder, “How many of us unwittingly finance nuclear weapons?” WILPF, 10 October 2013

Don’t Bank on the Bomb