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Nuclear arms treaty and umbrella states

26 4 0
11.09.2019

CANBERRA – In 1984, U.S. President Ronald Reagan noted the nuclear emperor had no clothes: “The only value in our two nations [United States and Soviet Union] possessing nuclear weapons is to make sure they will never be used. But then would it not be better to do away with them entirely”? Indeed it would. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons tries to do so through a new normative settling point on the ethics, legality and legitimacy of the bomb.

As of last Friday, 70 states had signed and 26 had ratified the treaty, which will enter into force with 50 ratifications. On Sept. 26, a mini-burst of signatures is expected at the United Nations. Japan is unlikely to sign. It should.

The nine countries with nuclear weapons (China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.) reject the treaty. Yet since its adoption in 2017, they have done their best to validate the concerns behind it. This poses a particular problem for several U.S. allies — Australia, Canada, Japan, Norway, etc. — that had previously positioned themselves as ardent advocates of nuclear disarmament.

The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump has embarked on an aggressive nuclear modernization program to enlarge its nuclear arsenal, develop new types of “usable” low-yield bombs and lower the threshold for their use. It scuttled the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that was working well and caused a resulting rise in tensions in the Persian Gulf.

It beggars belief that no one in Washington would grasp the impact of this on trying to denuclearize North Korea through negotiations. Why would China, Russia and North Korea hold discussions with an unreliable, perfidious negotiating partner?

In February, Trump suspended U.S. participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) that........

© The Japan Times