Happy 50th, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty! Let’s hold the fireworks, shall we’?
The U.N. began its month-long conference on the status of the 50-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in New York City Monday with this warning from U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres:
“Today, humanity’s just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” Why now? Guterres pointed to:
- the climate crisis
- stark inequalities
- human rights violations
- Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
In a written message to the conference, Russian President Putin agreed that there are “no winners” in a nuclear war. This is interesting, because he has recently bragged about Russia’s nuclear arsenal, put that arsenal on high alert, and warned that interference with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would “lead you to such consequences that you have never encountered in your history.”
The nuclear threats don’t stop there:
- India (not a member of the NPT) tested its nuclear-capable missile last year
- North Korea, which pulled out of the treaty, has been testing out the wazoo
- Pakistan and Israel are two other countries with suspected nuclear capabilities that are not members of the treaty
- Iran is a member, but the country stepped out of a 2015 deal that limited its nuclear program
If that wasn’t enough to give you nightmares, according to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ executive director Beatrice Fihn, “all five nuclear-armed NPT member states [China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S.] are violating their disarmament obligations under the treaty and increasing the risk of catastrophic nuclear war.”
If everyone agrees that it makes no sense to go nuclear, that it is mutually assured destruction, why do these weapons exist at all? This month’s U.N. meeting is about revitalizing the treaty. Can they agree on something substantial before the nuclear weapons THAT EVERYONE AGREES MAKE NO SENSE destroy us all?