Nuclear Threats and Security

Nuclear weapons constitute a clear and present danger to the security of all humanity. The risks of terrorism, the spread of radioactive fallout, and the possibility of serious impact on climate change mean that the future of the whole world depends on the actions of individual sovereign entities. All humanity has a right to a voice in determining the legality of actions by nation-states that may have ramifications far beyond their national boundaries. The authority of all sovereign entities rests with humanity as a whole. Civil society, which is presently the most evolved vehicle for the participation of humanity in global affairs, has already had a major influence on prevailing concepts of international humanitarian law and the legality of nuclear weapons. The core of the nuclear weapons problem is the challenge of evolving effective institutions for global governance. The solution to this and other serious challenges can only be resolved by humanity as a whole. More effective mechanisms are urgently needed to involve and give expression to the will of humanity on the legality of nuclear weapons. The threat or use of nuclear weapons is completely incompatible with the authority foundations of international law based on the people’s expectations in the global community.

Recently, Kazakhstan launched a global initiative for the abolition of nuclear weapons called The Atom Project. The devastating impact of nearly 500 Soviet nuclear tests during the Cold War has led to cancer rates 50% higher than elsewhere in Kazakhstan, afflicting more than 1.5 million victims with early death, disease and birth deformities. Kazakhstan renounced and eliminated its nuclear arsenal 20 years ago. Now it is launching a global program of public education to be followed by a global referendum of humanity to garner international support for a nuclear-weapons-free world. Building on this example, we propose an initiative by nations and civil society to convert the negative pressure on Iran to forego nuclear weapons into a positive multi-national initiative for a nuclear-weapons-free world. Nuclear weapons constitute a threat to all humanity and to the physical environment of the earth. No nation has the right to unilaterally possess or wield a weapon whose consequences endanger the entire human race. A global referendum would provide an opportunity to all humanity to voice its views on this issue, giving concrete endorsement to the idea that the foundations of global authority rest with the aggregate of people of the earth-space community.

3. Collateral Threats
It is important to celebrate real successes such as START as a victory of multilateralism. The growing intensity of extremist positions based on religious, ethnic or political ideologies represents a serious threat to both national and global human security. We cannot afford to be complacent. If we want people to make peace, we must be able to curb the vitiating impact of hate speech. The development of global communications systems facilitates the instantaneous dissemination of inflammatory material both within nations and across national borders. Concerted efforts are needed to counter the social and psychological threats to multilateralism and world peace by celebrating all positive initiatives to create a more conducive atmosphere for peace and cooperation.

The threat of illicit nuclear material proliferation and terrorism is growing. All countries with nuclear weapons or energy programs are potential hosts for illegal transfers of nuclear technology and are vulnerable to accidents and theft during the transit of nuclear materials. The prospect of illicit trade in nuclear materials leading to nuclear terrorism poses catastrophic threats that necessitate far stronger measures to control access and drastically reduce the size of nuclear stockpiles. The known stockpile of highly enriched uranium is sufficient for the manufacture of more than ten thousand nuclear weapons. The absence of a safe repository for spent nuclear fuels in many countries, which necessitates their transport over long distances, makes these nuclear wastes highly vulnerable to both accidents and theft. South East Europe is particularly susceptible to illicit trade in nuclear materials. The existence of largely neglected depositories of radioactive wastes in places such as the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences at Belgrade demands urgent remedial efforts to ensure their safe storage and permanent disposal.

The vulnerability of modern computer networks to cyber-attack represents a new category of catastrophic threats to national and human security. This form of attack challenges traditional principles of deterrence. Unknown attackers make it extremely difficult to retaliate or hold the perpetrators accountable. In addition, an offensive and defensive cyber ‘arms’ race is escalating. This danger not only affects on-line systems, but also off-line nuclear command and control systems. While it is not clear to what extent military systems might be susceptible to cyber-attack, it is evident that global networks controlling governance, finance, economy and other major fields of social activity are extremely vulnerable. The use of cyber-attacks to counter nuclear fuel processing in Iran sets a dangerous precedent for new forms of terrorism. There is an urgent need to formulate new international law norms to completely outlaw electronic forms of aggression and terrorism, most especially those directed against civil functions essential for the survival and stability of modern society.

4. Nuclear Energy, Human Rights & International Law
The challenges related to non-proliferation and abolition of nuclear weapons are aggravated by the necessity of vastly increasing global energy production during the next half century. Nuclear energy is also a potential source of bulk energy that does not contribute to raising the levels of atmospheric CO2. Consumption of enriched uranium for energy production also offers one way to reduce the enormous stocks of nuclear waste, while at the same time aggravating the risks of theft or diversion for military purposes. Moreover, nuclear accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima are indicative of the immeasurable risks involved with the reliance on nuclear energy. The production of nuclear energy generates a series of challenges that may endure for hundreds of thousands of years.

The prospects for expansion of nuclear energy are constrained by four unresolved problems: high relative energy cost, especially when the full costs of catastrophic risk which make it impossible to privately insure new facilities are taken into account; perceived adverse safety, environmental and health effects; potential security risks stemming from proliferation and terrorism; and unresolved challenges in long-term management of nuclear wastes. Combined, these factors have generated high levels of public resistance to the expansion of nuclear energy in many countries and the decision of several other countries, including Germany and Switzerland, to completely phase out existing plants. Although much progress is being made to guarantee the security of highly enriched uranium worldwide, much more needs to be done urgently. Real understanding of the danger has still not penetrated governments and decision-making bodies.

The environmental and health risks associated with nuclear energy also raise important issues regarding the responsibility of generating states for the consequences of nuclear accidents that extend beyond their national boundaries. International licensing mechanisms are needed to clearly define the responsibilities and regulate the operations of nuclear energy producers, while safeguarding the rights and welfare of those who may be inadvertently affected. Full evaluation of the feasibility and desirability of future reliance on nuclear energy must take into account the full range of political, social, medical, economic and ecological issues. Given the complex risks associated with nuclear energy, widespread public discussion and debate are needed to inform and educate world public opinion and global public policy.

5. Conclusions
The following concrete measures can be immediately taken to further progress on these issues:

  1. Initiative by international statesmen and non-aligned nations to induce Iran to take a positive leadership role in garnering international support for a nuclear-weapons-free world, as a means to provide a positive solution for the pending crisis in the Middle East and strengthen the commitment of Iran to remain a non-nuclear weapons state.
  2. Concerted effort of civil society organizations and sympathetic national governments to conduct a global program of public education to challenge myths and superstitions regarding nuclear weapons that obstruct steps toward complete nuclear disarmament.
  3. Exploratory steps to constitute an international consortium of civil society organizations and national governments to conduct a global referendum for a credible assessment of the will of humanity regarding the legality of nuclear weapons.
  4. Reference back to the International Court of Justice for review of its 1996 Advisory Opinion on the legality of nuclear weapons and specific time-bound responsibilities of nuclear weapon states for achieving complete nuclear disarmament.
  5. Formulation of a time-bound plan and steps leading to complete nuclear disarmament to be presented at the NATO conference in Split, Croatia on May 10-11, 2013.
  6. Establishment of international advisory licensing boards to regulate the establishment and operation of nuclear energy reactors.

Scientific evidence rejects the view that aggression and violence are a natural and inevitable characteristic of human behavior. Biologically, war is not a necessary part of the human condition. War results from multiple motivations and plays multiple roles in human affairs. After centuries of incessant warfare, the establishment of enduring peace in Western Europe after 1945 clearly illustrates that aggression and war are products of culture and can be radically reduced by cultural means. War can and must be abolished. The total abolition of nuclear weapons and shift from nuclear to renewable energy resources will constitute landmark steps toward this essential goal.

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