Holding onto Nuclear Weapons

Despite longstanding promises to work toward nuclear disarmament, the nuclear states continue their hostility toward abandoning these existentially dangerous weapons, Dr. Ira Helfand tells Dennis J Bernstein.

By Dennis J Bernstein

For months now there has been a frustrating hunt for “collusion” between the Trump administration and Russia, but there is one clear example of collusion — along with the other half dozen or so nuclear weapons states — in opposing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Passed on July 7 by 122 nations at the United Nations, the ban states in part that each cosigner “undertakes never under any circumstances to develop, test, produce, manufacture, or otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

A nuclear test detonation carried out in Nevada on April 18, 1953.

Following the signing of the treaty at the U.N., I spoke to Dr. Ira Helfand, past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and currently co-president of that group’s global federation, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. The group received the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize for their work in the field of nuclear disarmament.

“Two things were most notable in the overwhelming vote for this treaty,” Dr. Helfand said. “One was the urgency felt by the representatives of 122 countries who voted for it. The other was the rather crude and revealing statement put out by the ‘P3’ — the U.S., Britain and France,” said Dr. Helfand, that “they intend to maintain their policy of mutually assured destruction forever, even though they are legally required to negotiate the elimination of their nuclear arsenals under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

Dennis Bernstein: First of all, say something about the treaty — how important it is, what exactly it’s meant to do.

Ira Helfand: Well this treaty is an attempt by the non-nuclear weapon states around the world to tell the nuclear-armed states that they’ve got to stop behaving the way they have been. The nuclear-armed states are, for the most part, committed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to undertaking…

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