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  • October 3rd, 2017

Civil society conference offers practical way forward on nuclear disarmament

Ottawa signing ceremony

 

The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living. — General Omar Bradley, 1948.

From Friday, September 22nd to Saturday, September 23rd, this year’s Group of 78 Annual Policy Conference, Getting to Nuclear Zero: Building Common Security for a Post-MAD World, brought together a diverse group of concerned citizens to engage with each other and learn more about how to achieve a nuclear-weapons free world. Many thanks go out to the sponsors, organizers, speakers, and members who made this important event so successful and thought-provoking. (The Rideau Institute was a sponsor, part of the organizing committee, and panel contributor.)

The conference had many highlights and noteworthy presentations, including a panel on nuclear disarmament negotiations and three major panels on aspects of common security: how to achieve and sustain common security; major impediments; and the role of Canadian leadership in moving the international community closer to a sustainable peace and common security architecture.

This blog post will focus on the keynote address by one of the leading Canadian and international nuclear verification experts,  Tariq Rauf, who did an outstanding job of contextualizing the conversations that would follow throughout the conference.

Mr. Rauf, whose long and distinguished career has given him vast technical expertise on the issues being tackled at the conference, gave a speech that was both diagnostic and prescriptive. He provided fascinating insights into IAEA verification processes and their relation to nuclear disarmament. Most important of all, he offered an elegantly simple, yet effective, way forward on the central issue of verifying irreversible nuclear disarmament.

In my view, the practical way forward would be for each of the nine nuclear-armed States to follow the South Africa model — dismantle their own nuclear warheads and make available records for international verification, and place all nuclear material from dismantled warheads under international monitoring and verification.

He also discussed the importance of nuclear risk reduction, recommending that Canada champion the establishment of Global Nuclear Risk Reduction and Strategic Stability Centres with the participation of nuclear-armed states, to reduce the myriad risks associated with the possession of nuclear weapons.

On Canada’s unfortunate non-participation in the recent historic negotiations leading to the adoption by 122 UN member states of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Mr. Rauf had this to say:

For Canada, the first country ever to formally renounce nuclear weapons,to be absent at the General Assembly conference negotiations on a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty and place its chips with those of the New Procrastination and Delay Initiative (NPDI) — I mean the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative — and with NATO, that has the self-contradictory policy of being a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist, is a betrayal of the aspirations of Canadians.

To read the full text by Tariq Rauf, clickRestoring Canada’s leadership in Nuclear Arms Control and Disarmament (speaking notes; final edited version to come).

Photo credit: unknown.

 

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