Anti-nuclear weapons group ICAN wins Nobel Peace Prize

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The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the Nobel committee chair, said it was due to the group's "groundbreaking efforts to achieve a treaty prohibition" on nuclear weapons.

"We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time," she continued.

In a statement on the win, ICAN stated: 'This prize is a tribute to the tireless efforts of many millions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide who, ever since the dawn of the atomic age, have loudly protested nuclear weapons, insisting that they can serve no legitimate purpose and must be forever banished from the face of our earth.'

In July, after pressure from ICAN, 122 nations backed a UN treaty designed to ban and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons. But none of the nine known nuclear powers in the world - including the UK and the US - endorsed it.

ICAN, a coalition of hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), is 10 years old and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The group will receive nine million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, £846,000) along with a medal and a diploma at a ceremony in December.

Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the group, told reporters that the prize had come as a surprise but that it was "a huge signal" that the group's work was "needed and appreciated".

"The laws of war say that we can't target civilians. Nuclear weapons are meant to target civilians; they're meant to wipe out entire cities," she said, adding: "That's unacceptable and nuclear weapons no longer get an excuse.

"It's a giant radioactive bomb, it just causes chaos and havoc and civilian casualties. It is not a weapon that you can use in line with the laws of war.

"Every state matters here. The more states that sign and ratify this treaty the stronger the norm is going to get. They're not moving towards disarmament fast enough."

ICAN are:

  • a coalition group supported by hundreds of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in over 100 countries across the world (including CND)

  • formed in 2007, inspired by a similar campaign to ban the use of landmines worldwide

  • supporters include actor Michael Sheen, artist Ai Weiwei and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
  • its lobbying encouraged the UN to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons earlier this year which has been signed by 53 countries so far

Comedian Frankie Boyle imagines a nuclear attack

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Not known to be someone who minces his words, on September 18 2017, comedian Frankie Boyle posted a Facebook status imagining a nuclear attack and berating US President Trump. Here are some excerpts:

"It’s impossible to imagine what it’s like to be killed in a nuclear explosion, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. I think it will probably involve being blasted over quite a large distance, and at a surprising height, while simultaneously having all your skin burnt off. I know we think of it as being an instant death, but there’s every chance that there will be a few seconds where you’ll be sailing out of your local school catchment area, at a height of about a hundred feet or so, as some sort of screaming skeleton. Maybe you will get to see your family melt before the blast picks you up, and your final memory will be of their faces devolving into cubism. Or maybe it’s more like being smashed to pieces by a wave of rubble. After all those years of driving into town to go to work, or go shopping, your city centre will finally be coming to you, moving at several thousand miles an hour, and hotter than Venus in July."

"Donald Trump got himself into yet another war of words with North Korea after they test fired a missile that went over Japan. In a war of words you do not want to be on Trump’s side: a man who speaks like he’s on shuffle and has a smaller vocabulary than an upturned calculator. It’s incredible to see the US take the moral high ground about, of all things, nuking Japan. Bear in mind that Japan is a country that specialises in wooden buildings with paper walls. It’s odd to think that as millions of people hunkered down in their paper houses during a potential nuclear attack, they were still safer than the many thousands of people in the UK living in high rise social housing."

"If I might make one suggestion to the North Koreans, please don’t drop bombs indiscriminately upon the USA. There are specific targets you should hit that would upset the President the most and, luckily for your bombing crews, they’ve all got his name written on them in fifty foot high letters."

Read the full status here.

Nuclear Ban Treaty Opens for Signature and 50 states sign!

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In a week potentially overshadowed by Trump's threat of a nuclear war with North Korea, there are some reasons to be optimistic. The United Nations General Assembly has resumed and has held a signing ceremony for the new nuclear ban treaty.

On September 20, the treaty which was voted on in July, opened for signature. The treaty was a result of years of efforts from civil society and a conscious shift in focus from security and deterrence arguments to one's based on the humanitarian perspective. This humanitarian perspective argues that human beings will be the ones who suffer after a nuclear attack, and that no country would be able to adequately respond to a humanitarian catastrophe a nuclear attack would pose.

122 countries voted for the treaty to be passed back in July of this year, and so far 50 countries have signed the treaty. It will enter into force 90 days after 50 countries have ratified or acceded to it. See which countries have signed here.

Unsurprisingly, none of the 9 nuclear armed nations, including the UK have signed the treaty. In fact, the UK is amongst the states who staged a protest when the treaty was created and say they will never sign. 

Corbyn: 'Halt UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has renewed his call for a suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia. He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One recently that Britain should stop supplying arms which were being used in the war in Yemen. ‘I fully appreciate the size and enormity of the arms industry, and the need for working with industry to protect those jobs, in some cases by arms-conversion work, but above all we have to look at the consequences of a vast amount of arms sales to Saudi Arabia,’ he said.

London Arms Fair Protests

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Over 100 peace activists were arrested during protests against the DSEI arms fair, 4-11 September, including Angie Zelter a high-profile Trident Ploughshares campaigner.  Angie, who was part of the anti-nuclear themed protest on Wednesday, told journalists:  ‘I said with my action that selling components of illegal weapons of mass destruction is not done in my name, she told journalists. ‘I consider that nuclear arms deals are part of an ongoing conspiracy to commit a war crime.’

DSEI, the Defence and Security Equipment International is the world’s largest arms fair which is held biennially at the ExCel Centre in London’s Docklands. Stop the Arms Fair network, which includes many peace movement groups, organised a week of protest again this year, with CND contingents from Yorkshire, Manchester and elsewhere taking part, as well as many from London CND.

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, chair of Parliamentary CND, called the arms fair a ‘gross spectacle.  Chris Cole, who runs Drone Wars UK website, took part in Tuesday’s No Faith in War protests, said: ‘It’s important sometimes to put your body on the line and to try to stop the normalcy of the arms trade.'

TUC Congress back Defence Diversification Agency

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London CND welcomes the decision of the TUC Congress 2017 to lobby the Labour Party to set up a Shadow Defence Diversification Agency before the next general election, and work to develop a national industrial strategy which includes the possibility of arms conversion.

The Unite union’s support for the motion is particularly welcome, but the GMB opposed it. CND general secretary, Kate Hudson welcomed the news. ‘Jobs are often presented as an argument in favour of Trident replacement, so it's essential that there is a plan to secure alternative high-skilled jobs and to create many more jobs.’

Motion 17, Defence, jobs and diversification, from the Artists Union England, recalled the ground-breaking plan for alternative, socially useful work pioneered by the Lucas Aerospace workers in 1976. It highlighted ‘a convergence of crises – militarism and nuclear weapons, climate chaos, and the destruction of jobs by automation’, but acknowledged that defence workers ‘are rightly concerned about the potential loss of jobs, for example if Trident replacement is cancelled’.  Read the text in full 

 

London CND statement Korean Peninsula: War is not the answer

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London CND statement Korean Peninsula

WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER

London Region Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament is alarmed by the threat of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula and the wider Pacific region. North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons and missiles in defiance of the international community, while the US and its allies continue provocative actions, threats and exercises in or near North East Asia and the Pacific.

There is a real danger that these actions will lead to the use of nuclear weapons by intention or miscalculation. There are no safe hands for nuclear weapons and any detonation of a nuclear device would be a humanitarian catastrophe with global impacts. Threatening and isolating the North Korean regime risks escalating the conflict rather than encouraging solutions.

CND calls on the UK Government to use all appropriate diplomatic, international and legal means to end nuclear threats, to push for negotiations with North Korea and a return to the Six-Party Talks involving China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the US.

Both immediate and longer term solutions are needed including creating a zone free of nuclear weapons in North East Asia, a process to address the underlying causes of regional insecurity and conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and the promotion of peace, development and cooperative co-existence and security for all peoples in the region.

We call on the UK Government to reject a military solution to the conflict and urgently use its influence to press for all involved to avoid and refrain from further provocative rhetoric or military exercises and tests.

  • Visit the London CND website at www.londoncnd.org for more information on what’s going on, including a report of a visit from a South Korean Peace Expedition.

 

  • Visit the CND UK website at www.cnduk.org for actions we can all take:
  • Ask your MP to sign Caroline Lucas’s Early Day Motion
  • Sign our letter to Theresa May, and  
  • Join CND’s protest:

No Nuclear War

5pm • Thursday 28 September

Downing Street

South Korean Peace Expedition’s UK visits

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South Korean Peace Expedition at CND office

South Korean Peace Expedition at CND office

The People’s Democracy Party (PDP) of South Korea sent a Peace Expedition to the UK at the end of August, calling for a halt to the nuclear war exercises and US troops out of South Korea. They met CND representatives on 7 September and told us:

There is an urgent political situation on the Korean Peninsula. The Peace Expedition of PDP is in the UK again to oppose the joint military exercises called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian (UFG) against an invasion by North Korea.

As you know, the UFG is a large scale war exercise with 17,500 US armed forces and 50,000 South Korea troops, joined by additional troops from Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Britain. The war crisis is escalating further as a result of US troops visiting South Korea, including the US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry B Harris.

It is an extremely dangerous situation. It is only one step from a verbal war to actual war. We must stop the outbreak of nuclear war unconditionally.

People's Democracy Party is organizing a nationwide tour of South Korea, for three weeks from 8 to 29 September, together with the Central Council for People's Independent Peaceful Reunification and the Peace Treaty Movement Headquarters. Many different organisations will be co-hosting the Peace Tour as it moves round the country.

The opening ceremony takes place in Seoul on 8 September. We plan to hold various actions, including demonstration, press conferences, vigils, marches, talks, concert, and meeting whilst going round the country. We will visit 16 cities and return to Seoul for a closing ceremony.

The Peace Tour is calling for:

  • No war!
  • US troops and THAAD missile system out of Korea!
  • For a Peace Treaty between the US and North Korea!

We invite CND to join us. Our struggle is stronger together.

CND’s message of support to South Korean Peace Tour

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK sends greetings to the Peace Tour Demonstration which is being organised across the Republic of Korea. We join you in saying war is not the answer to tensions on the Korean Peninsula and calling for dialogue.

CND is alarmed by the threat of nuclear war in North East Asia and the wider Pacific region. North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons and missiles in defiance of the international community, while the US and its allies continue provocative actions, threats and exercises in or near North East Asia and the Pacific. There is a real danger that these actions will lead to the use of nuclear weapons by intention or miscalculation.

There are no safe hands for nuclear weapons and any detonation of a nuclear device would be a humanitarian catastrophe with global impacts. Threatening and isolating the North Korean regime risks escalating the conflict rather than encouraging solutions.

We urge the UK Government to use all appropriate diplomatic, international and legal means to end nuclear threats, to push for negotiations with North Korea and a return to the Six-Party Talks involving China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the US. Both immediate and longer term solutions are needed including creating a zone free of nuclear weapons in North East Asia, a process to address the underlying causes of regional insecurity and conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and the promotion of peace, development and cooperative co-existence and security for all peoples in the region.

We call on the UK Government to reject a military solution to the conflict and urgently use its influence to press for all involved to avoid and refrain from further provocative rhetoric or military exercises and tests.

Take Action for Peace in Korea

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NUCLEAR CRISIS UPDATE

CND is alarmed by the threat of nuclear war in North East Asia and the wider Pacific region. North Korea continues to test nuclear weapons and missiles in defiance of the international community, while the US and its allies continue provocative actions, threats and exercises in or near North East Asia and the Pacific. There is a real danger that these actions will lead to the use of nuclear weapons by intention or miscalculation. There are no safe hands for nuclear weapons and any detonation of a nuclear device would be a humanitarian catastrophe with global impacts. Threatening and isolating the North Korean regime risks escalating the conflict rather than encouraging solutions.

We urge the UK Government to use all appropriate diplomatic, international and legal means to end nuclear threats, to push for negotiations with North Korea and a return to the Six-Party Talks involving China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the US. Both immediate and longer term solutions are needed including creating a zone free of nuclear weapons in North East Asia, a process to address the underlying causes of regional insecurity and conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and the promotion of peace, development and cooperative co-existence and security for all peoples in the region.

We call on the UK Government to reject a military solution to the conflict and urgently use its influence to press for all involved to avoid and refrain from further provocative rhetoric or military exercises and tests.

Three actions everyone can take:

  1. Ask your MP to sign Caroline Lucas’s Early Day Motion
  2. Sign our letter to Tell Theresa May how to prevent a nuclear war
  3. Joint the protest: No Nuclear War • 5pm Thursday 28 September • Downing Street

Details 

WHAT THEY SAY

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour leader and Vice President of CND, has called on US and North Korea to ‘calm down’ and get round the table. He urged Theresa May to press for a measured response and help bring the temperature down. Writing in the Sunday Mirror (13 August) he said: ‘The risks of an unintended escalation into full-blown conflict are too great… There can be no question of blind loyalty to the erratic and belligerent Trump administration.’

In a parliamentary debate on Korea on 5 September, Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry ‘unreservedly’ condemned North Korea for flagrant breaches of international law but said ‘for the US to turn its back on diplomacy at this stage is simply irresponsible and, as its closest ally, we must be prepared to say so’.

Caroline Lucas MP and co-leader Green Party has tabled an Early Day Motion, EDM 243:

‘That this House expresses concern about the nuclear and missile testing by North Korea and the potential risk that provocative actions, threats and exercises in or near North East Asia and the Pacific which could lead to the use of nuclear weapons by intention or miscalculation; recognises that there are no safe hands for nuclear weapons and that any detonation of a nuclear device would be a humanitarian catastrophe with global impacts; acknowledges that further threatening and isolating the North Korean regime risks increasing the causes of conflict rather than encouraging solutions; urges the Government to use all appropriate diplomatic and international legal means to end nuclear threats, including active support for the UN Secretary-General and the EU in their offer to assist with negotiations with North Korea, and encouraging a return to the Six Party Talks involving China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the US; believes the objective of such talks should be to find immediate and longer term diplomatic solutions, including creating a zone free of nuclear weapons in North East Asia, a process to address the underlying causes of regional insecurity and conflict on the Korean Peninsula, and the promotion of peace, development and cooperative co-existence and security for all peoples in the region; and calls on the Government to reject a military solution to the conflict and urgently use its influence to press for all involved to avoid and refrain from further provocative rhetoric or military exercises and tests.’

Lindsey German, STW Coalition convenor, said North Korea’s missile tests demonstrated a readiness to threaten the US and its allies in the region. But attempt to present the conflict as one sided are hypocritical.

Christian CND has joined no war call saying the only solution is through dialogue. The international community has already shown what dialogue can achieve when the UN adopted a nuclear ban treaty.

The UK Scientists for Global Responsibility has produced a handy ‘beginners guide’ to nuclear threats, which explains the basic science.

In the United States, the Answer Coalition has reported anti-war demonstrations during August, including in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC. Answer sent a Peace Delegation to South Korea on 30 August.

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, another US anti-war organisation visited South Korea recently to oppose the deployment of THAAD, the US missile system. She told a press conference: ‘The North Korean nuclear program is certainly alarming, as are the myriad human rights violations of that repressive regime. But the question is how best to de-escalate the conflict so that it doesn’t explode into an all-out nuclear war.’