Great Britain

Nuclear-armed states are on the wrong side of history


or 75 years, people have fought to abolish nuclear warfare. In the 1940s, the atomic scientists of the Manhattan Project delivered the Szilard Petition to President Truman. In the 1950s, the great thinkers Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein clubbed together to produce the Russell-Einstein manifesto. In the 1960s and 1970s, Pacific and African American anti-nuclear voices became louder. From the Greenham Common women to the CND, millions of people have pushed back against the harm of nuclear weapons.  

Finally, their voices have been heard. On Saturday night, Honduras made history by providing the 50th ratification for the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons  (TPNW). This treaty will now enter into force on 22nd January 2021 – and it will criminalise nuclear warfare. State parties to the treaty have vowed never to develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or to threaten to use nuclear weapons. This presents an important symbolic shift toward re-stigmatising nuclear war.  

Blunt Trumpian persuasion did not prevent the TPNW from coming into force, despite Trump’s battle-cry for countries to withdraw from what he described as a “dangerous” treaty. Japan has pushed back against the TPNW though, despite being the only nation where nuclear weapons have been used in warfare. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato declared that while “Japan shares the goal of this treaty, the abolition of nuclear weapons… we differ in how to approach the issue, we will not become a signatory.”  

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