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A journalist came to Helsinki to ask about nuclear weapons

July 23, 2018

Husseini: “This is a free press in Finland?”

Sam Husseini, a journalist with The Nation, was forcibly ejected from the press conference held at the conclusion of the US-Russia summit in Helsinki. A piece of paper that he held on which the words “nuclear weapon ban treaty” were written, seen briefly on video as he was being dragged from the room by Finnish security, provided a pretty big clue as to why he was unwelcome.

Husseini has now published an article in The Nation describing exactly what happened during the incident and his subsequent arrest, and the important, if uncomfortable, questions he wanted to ask Trump and Putin about US and Russian nuclear disarmament obligations, the build-up of nuclear arms in both countries, and their opposition to the Ban Treaty.

“After I was finally able to listen to the news conference, it became evident how important my questions were. Both Trump and Putin attempted to sound like paragons of enlightened rule when talking about nuclear policy. But the emphasis was on nonproliferation. Putin spoke of the pair as being “major nuclear powers” who “bear special responsibility for maintaining international security” so as to ensure “global security and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.” Similarly, Trump stated: “We also discussed one of the most critical challenges facing humanity: nuclear proliferation.”

But nonproliferation is not disarmament. Indeed, nonproliferation is about ensuring that other countries don’t get nuclear weapons. It is not about getting rid of this all-encompassing threat to humanity. It is an attempt to preserve the nuclear powers’ monopoly on violence rather than actually ensuring security.”

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