05:02 GMT +320 November 2017
Live
    A Yars ground mobile missile system at the rehearsal of the military parade dedicated to the 71 th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War, in Red Square in Moscow

    Nuclear Umbrella: Why a 'World Without Nuclear Weapons' is a Dangerous Fantasy

    © Sputnik/ Alexander Vilf
    Politics
    Get short URL
    151989245

    This week, 122 UN member states adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Nuclear club countries, including Russia, are not expected to sign or ratify it. Russian political and military experts believe the new treaty is a populist gimmick, and that nuclear weapons, as dangerous as they are, are a guarantee of strategic stability.

    On Friday, 122 of the UN's 193 member states endorsed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a new, legally binding international agreement aimed at the total elimination of nuclear weapons. The treaty contains prohibitions "against the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons."

    The major nuclear powers, including Russia, the United States, China, Britain, and France abstained from negotiations on the treaty, seeking to strengthen the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons instead. The 1968 treaty requires the five original nuclear powers to commit to nuclear disarmament, and to provide other nations with access to peaceful nuclear energy technology. India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea also abstained from negotiations on the new treaty. The Netherlands, which took part in discussions, voted against the treaty.

    The new treaty, which contains twenty points on the conditions for its implementation, will become open for signature September 20, during this year's annual General Assembly meeting. The nuclear powers are not expected to sign or ratify it. 

    In other words, the only countries which appear prepared to sign on to the new treaty are states that never had nuclear weapons in the first place. Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control, says the situation is nonsensical.

    Moscow has already said that it will not be ratifying the new convention, citing Russia's national interests. The Foreign Ministry is also concerned that the document might negatively affect the international situation as far as nuclear proliferation is concerned.

    A Yars mobile land-based missile system being transported to its field combat duty site.
    © Sputnik/ Vadim Savitskii
    A Yars mobile land-based missile system being transported to its field combat duty site.

    According to RT Russian contributor Nadezhda Alekseeva, Moscow's position appears to stem from the idea that the destructive power of nuclear weapons, as dangerous as it is, has been the main factor restraining the nuclear powers from direct military confrontation. "Thus, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States did not enter into a hot phase due to the availability of nuclear weapons to both sides," the journalist wrote.

    The same can be said of the current period of tensions as well. Earlier this year, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov outlined Russia's position: "We have proceeded and will continue to proceed from the assumption that nuclear weapons constitute a factor for the maintenance of stability, a factor that ensures international security and guarantees our security, protecting the world from the most horrific conflicts."

    The US and its British and French allies seem to have a similar position. Following the treaty's adoption Friday, officials from the three countries issued a joint statement, which said that the countries "do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party" to the new treaty. President Donald Trump earlier told reporters that a nuclear-free world was a 'dream'. "It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we're going to be at the top of the pack," he said.

    China also boycotted negotiations on the new treaty, in spite of President Xi Jinping's comments earlier this year in support of the complete prohibition of nuclear arsenals. "Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons," Xi said during a UN speech in Geneva in January. In the same speech, the president spoke of the need for a multipolar world where countries resist interventionist tendencies and treat one another as equals.

    ATLANTIC OCEAN (August 31, 2016) An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class fleet ballistic-missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) off the coast of Florida. The test launch was part of the U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs demonstration and shakedown operation certification process
    ATLANTIC OCEAN (August 31, 2016) An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class fleet ballistic-missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) off the coast of Florida. The test launch was part of the U.S. Navy Strategic Systems Programs demonstration and shakedown operation certification process

    Finally, India too skipped the talks. Delhi favors complete disarmament, but not unilaterally. Furthermore, the country has not ratified the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and considers that treaty's conditions to be discriminatory.

    According to new statistics on global nuclear forces from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the number of nuclear weapons in the world continues to slowly decline, from 15,395 in 2016 to 14,935 in 2017. Among the estimated 4,150 warheads deployed on active combat duty, 1,950 belong to Russia, and 1,800 to the United States, with other countries making up the remainder. In 2016, Russia was estimated to have reduced its arsenal by 290 warheads, and the US by 200.

    Policy experts say the new UN initiative on the complete elimination of nuclear weapons is utopian, since a document that's signed only by non-nuclear states will be meaningless. Furthermore, for non-nuclear powers, its provisions essentially duplicate those of the 1968 treaty anyway.

    Military vehicles carrying DF-21D missiles are displayed in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, marking the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II
    © AFP 2017/ GREG BAKER
    Military vehicles carrying DF-21D missiles are displayed in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, marking the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II

    Speaking to RT, respected Russian military analyst Konstantin Sivkov suggested that the new treaty looks like a calculated effort to improve non-nuclear states' image in the international arena. 

    "This initiative is political adventurism," Sivkov said. "Someone just wants to score some political points. The nuclear parity that existed between the Soviet Union and the United States prevented a Third World War from breaking out, and this balance remains in the present as well. Therefore, the nuclear powers took the absolutely correct decision not to reject his convention."

    Soviet ICBMs rumbling down Red Square, November 7, 1990, marking the final parade held in honor of the Great October Socialist Revolution.
    © Sputnik/ Vyacheslav Runov
    Soviet ICBMs rumbling down Red Square, November 7, 1990, marking the final parade held in honor of the Great October Socialist Revolution.

    Boris Usvyatsov, the head of the Expert Council on Defense at the Russian Duma, echoed Sivkov's perspective. The new convention, he said, is little more than a manifestation of populism. Taking into account the current situation in the world, Usvyatsov believes that the nuclear shield is the only thing holding back destructive tendencies.

    "Talks on the need for total disarmament have been raised before. Let me remind you that [last Soviet leader] Mikhail Gorbachev indulged in such initiatives. He was led like a puppet on a string by Washington; Moscow destroyed its arsenals, while the Americans stocked up. Therefore, there is no trust on these issues in the world [anymore]. Reasonable initiatives to reduce the number of nuclear warheads are one thing, and Moscow supports such proposals…But there is no cause for talk about their complete liquidation."

    Washington has accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was signed by US and Russian leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, where it was agreed that both parties would scrap all land-based, intermediate-ranged atomic weapons and prevent their proliferation in the future.
    © Sputnik/ Yury Abramochkin
    Washington has accused Russia of violating the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), which was signed by US and Russian leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, where it was agreed that both parties would scrap all land-based, intermediate-ranged atomic weapons and prevent their proliferation in the future.

    Ultimately, Usvyatsov stressed that this essentially useless treaty will not be the first time that the UN has adopted a resolution or convention which has not been implemented.

    Related:

    'A Convenient Excuse': US Making Up Reasons for Arms Control Deal Pullout
    Russia's Barguzin Nuke Trains Will Make Pentagon Think Twice About First Strike
    What Makes Russia's Advanced Kh-101 Cruise Missiles Such a Powerful Force
    How the US Maneuvered Itself Into the North Korean Trap
    Over 120 UN Member States Adopt Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
    WATCH: Pakistan Test Fires Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile
    Gorbachev: Russia, US Should Restore Nuclear Arms Control System
    Something to Hide? Pentagon Won't Release Nuke Facility Safety Info
    Nuclear Weapon Arsenals Depleting Worldwide, But Modernization Efforts Ongoing
    Tags:
    expert analysis, nuclear disarmament, nuclear arsenal, nuclear weapons, disarmament, Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), United Nations, United States, Russia
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment