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An NPT pop quiz

May 11, 2015

Can you name the “official” NPT nuclear-weapons states?

If you said the US, Russia, the UK, France, and China…you’re wrong.

No, this wasn’t a trick question having something to do with North Korea. The fact is the NPT doesn’t contain a single word that confers any kind of special status on its five nuclear-armed members. The word “official” never appears. Neither does the word “recognized.” Nor does any other word that even hints at the notion that these five states have a right, temporary or otherwise, to the nuclear weapons they had when they joined the Treaty. (France and China did not even become Member States until 1992.)

The nuclear-armed states are mentioned only twice—and never by name—thoughout the entire text of the NPT. Article IX provides a generic definition: “For the purposes of this Treaty, a nuclear weapon State is one which has manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January, 1967.”

Then, of course, there’s Article VI, which says “Each of the Parties to the Treaty [not just the nuclear-armed Parties, mind you] undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

That’s it. No language anywhere that says—or could be interpreted to mean—that the nuclear weapons held by these five states got grandfathered in and are therefore permitted—or even tolerated for some indefinite time—under the treaty.

If you catch yourself using these words or any others that convey the same false impression, try to eliminate them from your personal glossary of nuclear terms.

While I’m on the subject, we keep hearing from certain states at the NPT Review Conference and elsewhere (you’ll find them in the glossary under “weasels”) that they don’t support the ban treaty because we will only eliminate nuclear weapons if we “engage” with the nuclear-weapons states.

Have they not noticed that this is exactly what we’re doing? Granted, the nuclear-armed states want nothing to do with negotiating a ban—which fact, alone, proves its effectiveness. “Engagement,” to the P5 and the weasels, means letting them define the terms and the pace of nuclear disarmament, and not rocking the boat with “unrealistic” demands and distractions. Once we have it, however, the ban treaty will set new terms for engagement. It will inform the nuclear-armed states that they are outlaws and that they need to “engage” with that and become respectable, law-abiding world citizens, like it or not.

If you ask me, the nuclear-armed states, to their distress, haven’t been so engaged since the end of the Cold War. The humanitarian impacts movement, the Austrian Pledge, and the campaign for a ban treaty have been the agents for that engagement. That’s official.

One Comment
  1. May 11, 2015 2:21 pm

    Reblogged this on moniquedhooghe and commented:
    love ippnw

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