eNews, April 2020
Copyright Joel Pett. Reproduced with permission.
Very regrettably, the United States was strikingly under-prepared for the coronavirus pandemic, even though the inevitability at some point of a viral pandemic was well known to high-level public health, intelligence, and military officials.
Yet the United States continues to massively prepare for a war that must never be fought - a nuclear war. And there is no letting up - on the contrary. The Trump administration's proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 includes $44.5 billion for maintenance and modernization of US nuclear forces, 19% more than was appropriated for fiscal year 2020. The spending is part of a $740 billion proposed military budget.
Meanwhile, tweets Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association, in the overall budget request, amounts are reduced from FY 2020 for: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ($5.5 billion, -18.6%); National Institute of Health ($38.7 billion, -7%); Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction, Biological Threat Reduction Program ($127.4 million, -37%). 
All of this is evidence of distorted priorities and of a concept of security that over-values military strength and under-values international cooperation and law. We need more human security and less militarized "national security". We need a collaborative approach to global problems like pandemics, climate change, poverty and inequality, and the threat of nuclear war.
LCNP has a great new staffer, Danielle Samler. She holds a fellowship, funded by the Arsenault Family Foundation, to advance the role of young women in nuclear disarmament. Danielle and I are working from our homes as New York City struggles with the pandemic. I hope that readers are taking precautions. And I hope you find this eNews informative about the postponed NPT Review Conference, LCNP advocacy on strengthening New York City's nuclear weapons-free zone and on human rights, and more.
John Burroughs 
Executive Director 
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What's at Stake in the Postponed
NPT Review Conference    

It has finally been announced that the five-year conference to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, originally scheduled for April 27 to May 22, is postponed to dates yet to be determined, no later than April 2021. Some states, no doubt including the United States, are pressing for the Review Conference to be held later this year. But what really makes sense is for it to be held in spring 2021. No NPT meeting to prepare for the next review conference is held in the first year after a review conference, so there is an opening in the NPT schedule.

A Security Council meeting held February 26 shed considerable light on states' positions going into the Review Conference. While things could shift, hopefully in a better direction, by the time of the postponed conference, the basic dynamics then are likely to be much the same. Danielle Samler produced a report on the meeting, published by our friends and colleagues at Reaching Critical Will; see also the UN report. Some notable points:
  • South Africa observed that there has been a lack of urgency and seriousness in the area of nuclear disarmament. It urged states not to roll back or reinterpret commitments made since 1995, underlining that the success of the 2020 Review Conference depends on those commitments being upheld. South Africa is influential among non-nuclear weapon states and has ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
  • China called for safeguarding arms control mechanisms, working together on rules for cyberspace and artificial intelligence, and exercising restraint in strategic capacity building. China also favored reiteration of the Reagan-Gorbachev statement that nuclear war cannot be won and must not be fought. So far the United States has resisted that step.
  • Russia and the United States advanced familiar positions. Russia said the breakdowns in arms control and non-proliferation agreements are a result of one state (the United States) trying to dominate the world and impose its rules on others at the expense of international law. The United States emphasized the value of the NPT in curbing the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons. That in turn, the US said, helped to facilitate reduction in US and Russian nuclear arsenals to levels not seen since the 1950s.
As John Burroughs commented in a March 4 Inter Press Service article, right now the United States, Russia, and China have nothing to offer in the way of nuclear arms reductions, actual or prospective, despite the commitment they made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference "to undertake further efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate all types of nuclear weapons". The failure to fulfill this and other commitments made at the 1995, 2000, and 2010 conferences is the single most important factor casting a pall over the upcoming 2020 Review Conference. A possible meeting later this year of the five NPT nuclear weapon states (US, Russia, UK, France, China) to discuss arms control and related issues is an opportunity to move forward with disarmament negotiations going beyond the US-Russian relationship. Nothing less is required by the NPT Article VI disarmament obligation.

Nuclear Weapons-Free NYC, Human Rights 
Nuclear Weapons-Free NYC: In an inspiring showing, on January 28 more than 60 people testified before two committees of the New York City Council in favor of two proposed anti-
Seth Shelden at press conference, City Hall, preceding the hearing.
nuclear weapons measures. One would require divestment of City pension funds from nuclear weapons producers; the other would establish an advisory committee to examine reaffirming and strengthening the City's status, dating back to 1983, as a nuclear weapons-free zone. While it remains to be worked out how the Mayor's Office would host the advisory committee, prospects for adoption of the two measures appear to be quite good.

Among those testifying was Seth Shelden, on behalf of New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN); Jonathan Granoff, President, Global Security Institute; Jacqueline Cabasso, North American Coordinator for Mayors for Peace; and John Burroughs (text, video). Shelden and Granoff are LCNP Board members; Cabasso is an LCNP advisor. For more, see the hearing transcript, video (part I, part II), and written testimony.
Human rights: In October 2018, the UN Human Rights Committee found that threat and use of nuclear weapons is incompatible with respect for the right to life set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a major treaty. Since then, LCNP has publicized this finding in multiple settings, for example a February 19 Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament side-event to a meeting of the International Parliamentary Union at the United Nations. We also will build on the finding by contributing to reviews of states' records in international human rights bodies. Our first such contribution was an October 2019 comment entitled "US Nuclear Weapons Policy Violates the Right to Life" submitted to the UN Human Rights Council review of the United States.

Readings and Videos

Michael Morell and Kristin Wood, " The tragedy is that we knew this was coming," Washington Post, March 27, 2020: "We must overcome the tendency to under-prepare for threats that we can clearly see - as there are many more of them out there. The most obvious and most important for sure is climate change, about which we and the world continue to avoid the necessary mitigation strategies. But, the list also includes the growing risk of nuclear war driven by the fraying of long-standing U.S.-Russian nuclear agreements, as well as the ongoing lack of economic opportunity that is putting American democracy and capitalism at risk."
Jonathan Granoff and Barry Kellman, "' National Security' is too crude to protect us from pandemics. It's time to shift to human security instead," Newsweek, March 17, 2020: "Proclaiming the need for a human security view is not mere rhetoric. It is an existential imperative we need to prioritize now. It is essential to combatting pressing global threats, including climate change and nuclear weapons, as well as pandemic diseases. Our thinking and actions must reflect the reality that we are one human family."

William Hartung, "Pentagon Spending: A Primer," March 17, 2020
"War No More," 21st CTAUN Conference at the United Nations, February 28, 2020, video part I, part II. Among the presenters: James Ranney and Jutta Bertram-Nothnagel, LCNP Board members; Randy Rydell, LCNP advisor; and Cora Weiss.   

 "I was 20 in 1945," Peter Weiss, United Nations Academic Impact: J. Michael Adams Lecture and Conversation, November 20, 2019 video , text. Peter is LCNP President Emeritus.

"Human Rights, Democracy, and Nuclear Weapons," NPT PrepCom Side-Event, May 1, 2019, video, texts: Daniel Rietiker, Bonnie Docherty, Andrew Lichterman

"The Right to Life Versus Nuclear Weapons: A Bold Intervention by the UN Human Rights Committee," December 10, 2018, Bahá'í UN Office, New York City, video, texts: Roger Clark, Ariana Smith, Peter Weiss