The 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT Rev Con) took place at the UN from April 27th to May 22nd. Though the NPT is a legally binding treaty that calls on nations that possess nuclear weapons to negotiate "in good faith" toward the goal of total disarmament, the officially recognized nuclear weapons states, also known as the P5, have shown little inclination to move in that direction. Worryingly, the recent crisis in Ukraine has both led to increased nuclear saber rattling and also stymied what was already halting Russian-American co-operation on disarmament issues. On the eve of the Review Conference, I attended the Peace and Planet Conference and Rally. The Peace and Planet movement is a collection of organizations that stand for causes including disarmament, peace, and sustainable growth all gathered under an anti-nuclear umbrella. Daniel Ellsberg, best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War told of how the nuclear warfare contingency plans drawn up by the US military during the Cold War called for the deaths of 275 million people, from the nuclear explosions alone, with radioactive fallout killing tens of millions more. He reminded the audience that nuclear weapons today have far more destructive power than those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Hibakusha Sumiteru Taniguchi told of the unimaginable suffering he experienced during after the bombing of Nagasaki. Setsuko Thurlow, a Hibakusha who lived through the bombing of Hiroshima previewed the remarks she gave at the NPT Conference itself. She criticized the nuclear powers for their continued stalling and prevaricating on the issue of making good faith efforts for disarmament. The next day, I participated in the rally and march to the United Nations alongside UU-UNO office director Bruce Knotts and a contingent of UUs. After hearing a diverse group of speakers inveigh against the threat of nuclear weapons and call for a more just and sustainable world we marched from Union Square to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, where a petition for the abolition of nuclear weapons was presented. Unfortunately, this year's NPT Review Conference did not produce a positive result. The acrimonious over the issue of a Middle East Nuclear Free Zone prevented the adoption of a final outcome statement. Previous NPT review conferences had called for steps to be taken toward a regional conference on eliminating weapons, but, as a result of their support for Israel, America, Britain, and Canada opposed language calling for the Secretary General to convene such a meeting. Terumi Tanaka, the leader of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations voiced his displeasure at the outcome of the review conference.
“It was regrettable that there was no progress in the movement on this 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombings.”Joseph Gerson, Director of the American Friends Service Committee Disarmament Committee and convener of the Peace and Planet movement urged anti-nuclear activists to broaden their horizons.
“If we are to prevail, nuclear disarmament movements must make common cause with movements for peace, justice and environmental sustainability.”Guy Quinlan, President of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and former UUSC President noted that the failure of the NPT to reach an agreement should be a spur to further action.
"While this outcome is disappointing, there are growing signs that the frustrations of non-nuclear countries are reaching the point where action outside of the framework of the NPT has become a viable option."Going forward: a world free of nuclear weapons!