Thursday, 24 September 2009

Security Council Adopts Nuclear Weapons Resolution

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UN Security CouncilThe UN Security Council, acting during an unprecedented summit chaired by President Barack Obama, unanimously approved a U.S.-drafted resolution on September 24 calling on states that possess nuclear weapons to scrap their arsenals.

It was only the fifth time the Security Council has met at a of heads-of-state level since being established in 1946 and the first time a U.S. President has chaired a council meeting. Officially designated as Resolution 1887, the measure calls on states that have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) "to comply fully with all their obligations." There are currently 189 countries that are party to the treaty, including the permanent Security Council members — the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and France.

CNN reported that President Obama urged the council members to overcome cynicism against the goal of ridding the world of nuclear arms, quoting President Ronald Reagan, who said "a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought."

Obama said that Resolution 1887 calls for tighter controls on nuclear materials to prevent them from being stolen or used for military purposes and also encourages enforcement of international treaties and UN resolutions regarding nuclear non-proliferation, particularly when nations such as Iran and North Korea are in violation. "The world must stand together," said Obama. "We must demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise."

Resolution 1887 calls on states that have not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) "to comply fully with all their obligations"  and urges states to cooperate so that "the 2010 NPT review conference can successfully strengthen the treaty and set realistic and achievable goals" in non-proliferation, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and disarmament.

Among the invited guests who attended the summit-level meeting were UN nuclear chief Mohamed El Baradei, former U.S. Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, media mogul Ted Turner, former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, and Queen Noor of Jordan — all of whom have campaigned against nuclear weapons.

AP cited Obama as stating that the resolution reflects the nuclear agenda he outlined in his April 5 speech in Prague. In that speech, he declared his commitment to "a world without nuclear weapons."

The opening paragraph of the draft resolution reaffirms the Security Council's commitment "to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons."

The Washington Post reported that gaining Senate ratification of the nuclear Test Ban Treaty — a key component of the resolution — will be critical to Obama's agenda. "Other countries have said, if we ratify, they'll ratify," the Post quoted a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Such promises could make it easier to convince skeptics in the U.S. Senate that voting for the Test Ban Treaty is worthwhile, said the officials.

A fact sheet on the UN Security Council Summit on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Disarmament that adopted UNSC Resolution 1887 issued by the White House states that among the objectives of the resolution is "a revitalized commitment to work toward a world without nuclear weapons, and calls for further progress on nuclear arms reductions, urging all states to work towards the establishment of effective measures of nuclear arms reduction and disarmament." (Emphasis in original.)

Further objectives of the resolution are: "A strengthened Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a Review Conference in 2010 that achieves realistic and achievable goals in all three pillars: nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The resolution supports universality of the NPT, calls on all states to adhere to its terms and makes clear the Council’s intent to immediately address any notice of intent to withdraw from the Treaty. The resolution also notes the ongoing efforts in the NPT review to identify mechanisms for responding collectively to any notification of withdrawal." (Emphasis in original.)

In retrospect, it can be seen that President Obama was setting the stage for his role in promoting Resolution 1887 in his speech to the UN General Assembly the previous day. In our report covering that speech, we noted that the President had "harkened back to the fear of nuclear annihilation that was strong in the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — fear that served as a strong initial impetus for founding the UN — and [had] exploited that fear to promote ratification of the nuclear Test Ban Treaty."

Among the president's remarks that we quoted:

We will pursue a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers.  We will move forward with ratification of the Test Ban Treaty, and work with others to bring the treaty into force so that nuclear testing is permanently prohibited.  We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons.  And we will call upon countries to begin negotiations in January on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons.

I will also host a summit next April that reaffirms each nation's responsibility to secure nuclear material on its territory, and to help those who can't — because we must never allow a single nuclear device to fall into the hands of a violent extremist.  And we will work to strengthen the institutions and initiatives that combat nuclear smuggling and theft.

All of this must support efforts to strengthen the NPT.  Those nations that refuse to live up to their obligations must face consequences.  Let me be clear, this is not about singling out individual nations — it is about standing up for the rights of all nations that do live up to their responsibilities.  Because a world in which IAEA inspections are avoided and the United Nation's demands are ignored will leave all people less safe, and all nations less secure.

Obamas's starring role in chairing the Security Council summit on nuclear nonproliferation came just one day short of the 48th anniversary of another momentous appearance at the UN by a young Democratic President. On September 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy unveiled at the United Nations a plan that was subsequently printed as State Department Publication 7277. It was entitled "Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World." (Reprints of the document are available from

The plan outlined in "Freedom From War" called for:

• The disbanding of all national armed forces and the prohibition of their reestablishment in any form whatsoever other than those required to preserve internal order and for contributions to a United Nations Peace Force;

• The elimination from national arsenals of all armaments, including all weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery, other than those required for a United Nations Peace Force and for maintaining internal order;

• The institution of effective means for the enforcement of international agreements, for the settlement of disputes, and for the maintenance of peace in accordance with the principles of the United Nations;

• The establishment and effective operation of an International Disarmament Organization within the framework of the United Nations to insure compliance at all times with all disarmament obligations.

Those too young to remember the mindset of many Americans back in 1961 (including Barack Obama, himself, who was born that year) cannot realize the terrifying fear of nuclear war that had been cultivated by the media and some public officials. It far surpassed the fear of terrorist attack that exists in post-9/11 America. Nuclear war was a popular theme in movies, TV shows, and books of the era, and students in the nation's schools regularly participated in air raid drills and were given Civil Defense booklets with plans for home radioactive fallout shelters to take home to their parents. This writer recalls — as a far-too-serious young man of 13 when President Kennedy introduced his plan at the UN — turning on the radio every time the town fire sirens sounded to make certain that Soviet ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) were not approaching to devastate New York and environs with 20-megaton nuclear payloads!

Just as the fear instilled by the devastation of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 helped convince Americans to accept membership in the UN in the first place (Obama alluded to that fact in his speech to the General Assembly when he said: "This institution was founded at the dawn of the atomic age, in part because man's capacity to kill had to be contained."). The fear of nuclear war propagated throughout the 1950s and into the '60s helped pave the way for President Kennedy's sovereignty-destroying plan.

What, other than irrational fear, could convince Americans to even consider a plan that proposed: "As states relinquish their arms, the United Nations must be progressively strengthened in order to improve its capacity to assure international security and the peaceful settlement of disputes"?

And that was just during the early stages of "The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World." In Stage III we find:

In Stage III progressive controlled disarmament and continuously developing principles and procedures of international law would proceed to a point where no state would have the military power to challenge the progressively strengthened U.N. Peace Force and all international disputes would be settled according to the agreed principles of international conduct. [Emphasis added.]

And, finally:

The progressive steps to be taken during the final phase of the disarmament program would be directed toward the attainment of a world in which:

(a) States would retain only those forces, non-nuclear armaments, and establishments required for the purpose of maintaining internal order; they would also support and provide agreed manpower for a U.N Peace Force.

(b) The U.N. Peace Force, equipped with agreed types and quantities of armaments, would be fully functioning.

(c) The manufacture of armaments would be prohibited except for those of agreed types and quantities to be used by the U.N. Peace Force and those required to maintain internal order. All other armaments would be destroyed or converted to peaceful purposes.

(d) The peace-keeping capabilities of the United Nations would be sufficiently strong and the obligations of all states under such arrangements sufficiently far-reaching as to assure peace and the just settlement of differences in a disarmed world.

Fortunately, many Americans committed to U.S. sovereignty spread the word about "Freedom From War." When the State Department allowed it to go out of print, conservative groups (including The John Birch Society) reprinted it and have kept it in continuous distribution to this day. As a result, no president today would dare promote anything so blatantly against America's interests.

However, President Obama, as a master of the "soft sell," has resurrected to essence of "Freedom From War's" earlier stages, and he and his colleagues at the UN have made them part of Resolution 1887, with the later stages sure to follow.

Starting with his call at Prague last May to create  a "world without nuclear weapons,"  Obama and friends have stepped up the push for disarmament.

Queen Noor of Jordan,  a guest at the summit and a founder of the Global Zero international initiative to eliminate nuclear weapons, said in an interview that Resolution 1887 "would be a historic step toward an international consensus, and it would pave the way for governments to start working to achieve this goal."

"I believe that world leaders have come to recognize that the only way to eliminate the nuclear threat is to eliminate all nuclear weapons, and it is urgent to begin making this vision a reality," said Noor.

On the grounds of the UN stands a massive bronze sculpture of a man beating his sword into a ploughshare, the irony of its biblical reference perhaps lost on many who failed to realize that the government of the old Soviet Union that donated it was officially atheistic and completely antagonistic to all religions. The motivations of the Soviets in providing the sculpture for the UN were transparent: to add weight to the propaganda to convice Western nations to disarm, knowing that there was no way the United States could be certain that the Soviets had reciprocated. As an astute observer of human nature once observed: Those who beat their swords into ploughshares end up ploughing for those who kept their swords.

And of course, as "Freedom From War" made clear more than four decades ago, nations would not disarm in a vacuum — the United Nations would be equipped wit8 swords sufficiently powerful to force compliance with its dictates.

Photo: AP Images

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