January 22 marked one years since the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(TPNW), which was refused by the U.S. to sign, became a binding agreement. To commemorate that anniversary and in anticipation of the impending release of the Biden administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, Veterans For Peace (VFP), a non-governmental organization that exposes the costs and consequences of militarismand war and seeks peaceful, efficient alternatives, issued its own Nuclear Posture Review (NPR).
The Pentagon’s 2018 NPR says the United States can use nuclear weapons in response to non-nuclear attacks, including cyberattacks, in “extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States, its allies and partners.” This would allow the U.S. to engage in the “first use” of nuclear weapons. Anti-nuclear activists are pushing Joe Biden to reverse Donald Trump’s policies set forth in the 2018 NPR, including the first use policy. International law is also violated by the first use of nuclear arms. It would also be a disaster for the survival and well-being of the planet.
VFP’s 10-page NPR replaces the goal of “full spectrum dominance” over the globe with “full spectrum cooperation.” It calls on the U.S. to implement a verifiable No First Use policy, take nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert and remove the sole authority of the president to launch a nuclear war. VFP calls upon the United States of America to enter into good faith negotiations with the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons and taking immediate steps to reduce the chance of an accidental nuclear attack. It also urges the United States to sign the TPNW.
The TPNW prohibits nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices from being transferred, used, or threatened to be used. States parties to the treaty pledge “never under any circumstances” to “develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”
Eighty-six nations have signed the treaty, and 57 have ratified the agreement. This makes them parties. The TPMW was signed by 50 parties and entered into effect on January 22, 2022.
But the five original nuclear-armed countries — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — boycotted both the treaty negotiations and the vote. The final vote was not attended by India, Pakistan, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea, all of which are also nuclear-armed.
“The danger of a devastating nuclear war is greater than ever,” Gerry Condon, a Vietnam-era veteran and former president of VFP, told Truthout. “We cannot leave the future of the planet in the hands of the generals, the cold warriors and the weapons manufacturers who have brought us one terrible war after another.”
The U.S. is violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The 1970 Convention is still in force, but the United States is not a party. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) continues to violate the provisions in that treaty. Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense said in a 2005 release by the Institute for Public Accuracy, “The U.S. government is not adhering to Article VI of the NPT and we show no signs of planning to adhere to its requirements to move forward with the elimination — not reduction, but elimination — of nuclear weapons.”
In fact, the United States has been moving in the opposite direction for the past several years. The Obama administration advanced a policyDonald Trump and Joe Biden reaffirmed their commitment to developing leaner and more efficient nuclear weapons. The U.S. budgetThe next 30 years will see the construction of two new bomb factories, planes missiles, submarines, and redesigned warheads costing nearly $2 trillion.
The Veterans For Peace Nuclear Posture Review is geared towards Preventing War
Ken Mayers (a VFP national board member) said in an email Truthout, “When we considered all the Nuclear Posture Reviews since the first one in 1994, we concluded that they all leaned towards war. We decided that veterans should speak for peace and push our government into correcting this posture. That is the consistent theme of the VFP Nuclear Posture Review.”
It calls upon the Biden administration (with some additional explanations and summaries below) to take the following steps:
- Implement a No First Use and No Launch on Warning (“Hair Trigger Alert”) policy that entails separating warheads from delivery vehicles;
- Decommission Intercontinental Ballistic Missile silos, weapons, and other equipment that can’t be used for first strike.
- Replace the President’s exclusive authority to launch a nuclear attack with a safer, collective process that is less likely to lead to a rash decision to launch nukes;
- End Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (a U.S. anti-ballistic missile defensesystem to shoot down short-, medium-, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles), as well as other anti-ballistic missile systems;
- Sign and ratify TPNW
- Initiate and pursue active negotiations with the goal of reducing international tensions and a goal to effect a significant reduction in nuclear weapons and promoting strategic stability.
- All nuclear-armed countries are invited to the table to discuss a path to nuclear disarmament as required by the NPT.
- China and Russia join forces to negotiate cyber-ban and space ban treaties.
- Ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits “any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion” anywhere around the globe;
- Re-implement the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and eliminate all missile “defense” systems;
- Re-implement the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This required the U.S.SR and U.S. to permanently renounce all conventional ground-launched nuclear and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers.
- To remove U.S. nukes from the following NATO countries: Germany (Italy, Turkey, Belgium, and the Netherlands), work with U.S. Allies
- Recall all nuclear-armed submarines, ground the nuclear bombers and destroy the missile sites.
- End the “nuclear modernization program,” which includes new nuclear weapons research, design, expansion, refurbishment, laboratory testing and sub-critical testing. The Nuclear Weapons Abolition and Economic and Energy Conversion Act of 1998 (HR 2850) would pass. It would redirect funds to noncarbon, nonnuclear energy systems to reduce the effects of climate change and to provide benefits for society.
- Afford adequate funding to clean up nuclear production, testing facilities, uranium mines, mills, and other nuclear waste sites in the U.S. Pacific nuclear test areas. Develop technologies and facilities to handle radioactive material;
- To assist workers in the nuclear industry to make the transition to constructive employment, create economic conversion plans.
VFP urges Biden to rejoin Iran Nuclear Deal and negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea
As the United States continues to violate the NPT, it maintains a provocative posture toward North Korea (which has nuclear weapons) and Iran (which doesn’t).
Veterans For Peace proposes that the Biden administration implement a five-point plan to revive U.S.- DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea) talks to end the expensive “forever” U.S. war against the DPRK. The plan includes an agreement to implement U.S.-DPRK’s Joint Statement from the Singapore Summit; negotiations for a peace treaty that will replace the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement; an halt to all joint exercises between the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and other countries against DPRK; the lifting all sanctions against DPRK; and the cessation all threats against North Korea as well as the removal of the U.S. nuclear missile system from South Korea.
VFP is urging Biden to shift his position on Iran. The Trump administration pulled the United States from Iran’s nuclear deal. Despite his campaign promise to do so, Biden has not joined the Iran nuclear deal agreement one year later. In return for lifting U.S. sanctions, Iran agreed to not enrich uranium beyond what could be used to make a bomb. Trump ended the JCPOA and imposed harsh sanctions on Iran. VFP calls on Biden to lift sanctions and re-enter JCPOA.
VFP’s Nuclear Posture Review is a critical document, which, if implemented, would go a long way toward protecting the world from a nuclear war. The Biden administration has the ability to move toward nuclear disarmament.
“The U.S. could lead the world to eliminate all nuclear weapons. We can lead the world to eliminate nuclear weapons if we take the first step. That will only happen with a major shift in U.S. foreign policy, however,” Condon said. “We need to push our political leaders to peacefully adjust to a multi-polar world that it no longer dominates. Only then will we have real peace and security.”