Today is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The UN Secretary-General's message reminds us that nuclear disarmament is one of the founding principles of the United Nations.
When will we realise that nuclear weapons are catastrophic?
These weapons are so indiscriminate that the UN made nuclear disarmament one of its founding principles.
If the founding leaders, former presidents and prime ministers, found it essential that nuclear disarmament be the central goal around which all other principles are built upon, what makes us think that it is now ok to allow the proliferation of these horrific weapons?
It's not just the devastation that these weapons cause upon impact - like in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (see survivor stories), but also the disasters caused by nuclear testing.
You only have to look at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in north-eastern Kazakhstan to know the damage caused by nuclear testing. There is an irregularly high proportion of children born with birth defects, and higher cases of leukaemia. The testing was conducted in a part of the country with a semi-nomadic, poor population. Still to this day natural water sources in this region have a much larger quantity of radioactive properties than what is considered safe.
We would never want to put the children of others through this.
"Tens of billions of dollars have been pledged to maintain and upgrade nuclear weapon systems." - Excerpt from Ban Ki Moon message on Day for Total Elimination on Nuclear weapons.
Nuclear weapons do not keep us safe, in fact quite the opposite, they empower more oppressive states such as North Korea to normalise them. For more on why acquiring nuclear weapons makes us more vulnerable see my blog post entitled 'Is it not time we abandon this sinking ship we call trident?'
Not only do nuclear weapons not keep us safe but they are incredibly expensive. It's surprising how here in the UK our recent vote to leave the EU, in part due to the apparent cost, does not affect the £100,000,000,000 (that's one hundred billion!) we spend on trident alone. This money could also be invested into the NHS to help save lives instead of destroying them.
Countries such as the UK should take a lead on nuclear disarmament; a temporary freeze on the acquisition of all nuclear weapons would be a start. Then clearly making it illegal to buy/renew/create nuclear weapons would be the next step, before creating a larger disarmament industry (providing jobs for former workers in the nuclear sector), then completing disarmament.
I agree fully with Ban Ki Moon's message; there are many paths to disarmament but what we must all agree on is to do something, the world cannot afford another round of inaction. We need to work to eliminate all nuclear weapons and now is the time to do it; our very survival depends on it.