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May Day! Disarm! Bryant Park Rally To Demand Nuclear Abolition

Rhianna Tyson Apr 20, 2004

UNITED NATIONS, N.Y.—The status and future of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the oft-cited “cornerstone” of disarmament, will be discussed at the United Nations by 188 governments on Monday, April 26.

The NPT constitutes the only legal codification of the five Nuclear Weapon States’ (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China) obligation to disarm. Three other states – Israel, India and Pakistan – are not parties to the treaty; they are referred to as “nuclear capable states.”

Four years ago, at the 2000 NPT review conference, the Nuclear Weapon States unanimously agreed to “an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” Today, that promise seems like a cruel joke.

Rather than fulfilling its obligation to eliminate its nuclear arsenal, the Bush administration is researching and developing new types of more “useable” nuclear weapons. In the face of continued nuclear tests, plans to militarize space and defunct security treaties, many have lost their faith in the NPT.

The U.S. and other nuclear-armed nations plan to divert the focus of the upcoming meeting away from their own unfulfilled obligations to would-be proliferators such as Libya, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

“The rest of the world can either stand by and let Bush press ahead with his new nuclear nightmare and watch as proliferation runs wild throughout the world, or we can do something about it,” says Carol Naughton, consultant with the British-American Security Information Council. “The NPT will be ripped apart by those who put self-interest above humanity. I am not prepared merely to stand by and neither are the rest of us in the abolition movement.”

Hundreds of anti-nuclear and peace activists from around the world will be converging on New York City to witness the U.N. session and to provide support for the world’s governments that have renounced nuclear weapons as a source of security.

Abolition 2000, a worldwide network of more than 2,000 organizations, is organizing a mass demonstration to be held on Saturday, May 1 in Bryant Park. “We now have to accept that the use of nuclear weapons is drawing closer then ever,” says Naughton.

United for Peace and Justice will be co-sponsoring the event, along with dozens of other organizations.

Mayors for Peace, representing more than 500 mayors, will be sending at least six representatives to the conference as well, including the group’s founders Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima and Mayor Iccho Itoh of Nagasaki. Mayors for Peace launched an “emergency campaign” last year to abolish nuclear weapons by 2020.

Hiro Umebayashi, president of the Japan-based Peace Depot, was one of many who welcomed the Mayors’ initiative. “It is a very rare opportunity that both mayors and world non-governmental organization activists have to sit side-by-side and work together for a new global campaign to abolish nuclear weapons,” he said.

Wolfgang Schlupp-Hauck, of the German peace organization Friedens-und Begegnungsstätte Mutlangen, is coming to New York to demonstrate solidarity with peace activists. “It is a hard task to address the mighty government of the U.S., but with good arguments and the power of the people, we are able to influence political decisions.”

Like many others, Schlupp-Hauck is bringing messages of hope from his hometown of Mutlangen, where the United States deployed Pershing II missiles throughout the 1980s. After 10 years of sustained and coordinated resistance from the local people, the weapons were finally removed.

“Three thousand people were arrested blocking the nuclear missiles,” says Schlupp-Hauck. “We have only one chance: either we work together to abolish nuclear weapons, or, they will be used one day.”

ACCOMPANYING SIDE BAR

Vanunu, Israeli Nuclear Whistle- Blower, Is Free

By Rhianna Tyson

On April 21, Mordechai Vanunu, the nuclear technician who blew the whistle on Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program almost 20 years ago, was released from prison.

A former employee of the Dimona Nuclear Power Plant, Moroccan-born Vanunu learned of his adopted country’s secret nuclear weapons program and leaked word of it to the London Sunday Times in 1986.

After his disclosure, Vanunu fled to Great Britain and was captured by an Israeli intelligence agent. Transported to Rome, Vanunu was drugged, kidnapped and brought back to Israel where he was convicted of treason and espionage and sentenced to 18 years. He served the first 11 of those years in solitary confinement.

On Feb. 24, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that he would release Vanunu in April, but his release would be subject to “appropriate supervisory measures” as to ensure that he would not disclose any other intelligence information. Vanunu will be released under stringent conditions. He cannot leave the country for one year, or leave Tel Aviv without permission. He may not speak with foreign citizens without approval, nor enter foreign embassies or go within 550 yards of border crossings or airports. Vanunu’s attorney commented that the conditions were in violation of Israeli law, and plans to appeal to Israel’s High Court of Justice.