The road to Oslo for the Nobel Peace Prize Awards ceremony was not the easiest, but we are now at the stage where the international community recognises the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ (ICAN) efforts to bring about a more peaceful world. This treaty renews a long standing commitment to abolish nuclear weapons and is the greatest advancement in the non-nuclear proliferation agenda in decades.
The award is also an acknowledgment of the efforts of campaigners to rid the world of this horrific, indiscriminate weapon and how much their work has increased awareness of this. This prize makes clear that a nuclear free world is possible and creates a road map to it.
As I have argued in the past; keeping nuclear weapons as a deterrent does not work, in fact, the more countries invest in nuclear weapons, the more dangerous the world becomes. The main reason North Korea is developing and testing nuclear weapons is because the U.S. has nuclear capabilities, thus trying to increase its power vis a vis America. It is certainly not developing these weapons because it is afraid of its South Korean neighbour.
The way to respond to this is negotiations with China to get them to put economic pressure on North Korea to stop testing and developing nukes, whilst taking the nuclear option off the table, this would protect both nations.
What about the UK?
By dismantling the trident nuclear weapons system, the UK would save billions. This is money that could be invested in the NHS, into other public services that have not received investment for years or even invested into other forms of defence, you don’t have to be anti-defence to be anti-nuclear. In fact, when we disinvest from trident we can actually invest more into families of former veterans, many of whom are living in appalling conditions. Currently, a weapon which our government says it will never use anyway is taking up so much of our military spending with absolutely no returns.
Thankfully 50 countries have already signed the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons so the treaty has already come into force, the vast majority of countries are against nuclear weapons and a global norm of anti-nuclear resistance is forming. U.S, UK, Russia, China, Israel and India will not see the benefits of keeping these weapons for much longer. In the future, generations will look back in disbelief that we took so long to create and adhere to this treaty, just as people look back on landmines as a horrific weapon and don’t understand why we ever developed them in the first place.
But what would happen to industry?
Here in the UK we have a massive industry in renewing, repairing, and checking up on the trident weapon system, and this is probably similar in other nuclear weapon states. But there is an entire industry created in dismantling them. This industry has the potential to bring hundreds of billions of pounds and jobs back into the UK and internationally. The fact that the dangers of nuclear weapons are linked to environmental degradation means that the dismantling of them can also increase the number of jobs in the clean air and energy sectors in the UK too.
Nobel Peace Prize
As Setsuko Thurlow walked with the Director of ICAN, Beatrice Fihn, to collect the Nobel Peace prize on 10th December, I was immensely proud of their long-standing belief that we can live in a nuclear free world. Their efforts were finally being rewarded. I was also conscious of all the other campaigners who for years have not given up, even when at times the conversation seemed very one sided and repetitive. The conversation is now continuing and getting broader with more opinions heard on this subject.
It is important that we continue to talk about this as many young people are still not aware of the dangers of nuclear weapons and how it can affect their everyday lives. An increasing number of younger voters are getting more involved in political campaigning, for example; at the last elections, the UK saw many young people support a candidate that has had an anti-nuclear weapons stance for decades.
The Nobel Peace Prize was a marker in the road, directing us, now the work continues, with a new 1000 day campaign to end nukes, this is a race that will be won. To join or support the campaign, please go to: www.nuclearban.org/ - The time scale of the victory all depends on us.