Speech by Socorro Gomes

Speech by Socorro Gomes, President of the World Peace Council, to the Disarm Now Conference

New York, May 1st, 2010

The rose of Hiroshima
By VinĂ­cius
de Moraes and Gerson Conrad

Think about the children
Mute and telepathic
Think about the girls
Blind and inexact
Think about the women
Changed routes
Think about the wounds
Like balmy roses
But oh don't forget
The rose of the rose
Of the rose of Hiroshima
The hereditary rose
The radioactive rose
Stupid and invalid
The rose with cirrhosis
The atomic anti-rose
Without color or perfume
Without rose or anything

Ladies and gentlemen, Comrades,

The mobilization of hundreds of social organizations of the peace movement and international solidarity all over the world in face of the nuclear weapons issue is of the greatest importance. The World Peace Council takes part in the Disarm Now initiative with the conviction that the debates held here may contribute, with so many others, to strengthen the movement for peace, disarmament and the elimination of all nuclear weapons from the face of the earth. It is with that same spirit that the World Peace Council, as a member of UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will attend all talks in the review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and will submit its deliberations to be debated by pacifist movements, social movements, non-governmental organizations, personalities and political, cultural and academic institutions. Forming a collective awareness on the threats that loom over the rights of the peoples, the sovereignty of nations and world peace is indispensable and cannot be postponed. We are an organization that has been fighting for 60 years for peace and for the abolition of nuclear weapons. We have joined all who fight for a new international order, for a peaceful solution of disputes and conflicts. As one of the legitimate expressions of civil society, we consider our main duty to strengthen international cooperation, which is based on equal rights, peoples’ self-determination, sovereign equality of national States and the good will in fulfilling international obligations, which should constitute the grounds for all governments and multilateral organizations.

Those principles, consecrated by international right, form the backbone of the United Nations and are aimed at maintaining peace and international security. They are, however, flagrantly disrespected by imperialist powers, which use their mighty clout to promote nuclear blackmail, perpetrate wars, military interventions, to threaten weaker countries and impose resolutions and treaties that are not based on the consecrated criteria of balance and equality. We understand that this fight must be essentially anti-imperialist, for it derives from the conception according to which the system oppressing sovereign peoples and nations is the main cause of wars and the main stimulant to militarization and arms races.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is one of those international agreements characterized by unbalance, inequality and asymmetry.

As a pacifist movement, we have always saluted with enthusiasm the initiatives aimed at disarmament, the reduction of nuclear weapons and non-proliferation. We have made a principled stand for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. 60 years ago the World Peace Council issued the Stockholm Appeal, which is still impressively up to date. That document, which famously traveled the world collecting the signatures of 600 million people, stated clearly and simply:

“We demand an absolute ban on nuclear weapons, which are aimed at aggression and the mass extermination of people.

We demand the establishment of a rigorous international control to ensure the application of such ban.

We believe that the first government to make use of the nuclear weapon, no matter against which country, would commit a crime against humankind and should be treated as a war criminal.

We call all people of good will in the world to sign this appeal.”

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, effective since 1970, was ratified by 188 countries, one of which, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, withdrew later. Only three countries – Israel, India and Pakistan – have not ratified the treaty. This Treaty, to a certain extent, could have constituted a step towards peace, but there were some flagrant contradictions in its very conception and in the political conditions to which its application is submitted.

Criticisms regarding the NPT in a moment when the United Nations are once again reviewing the Treaty are related to its asymmetric character.

Theoretically, the NPT would be based on three points – non-proliferation, disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy. However, as long as the practical effects are concerned, that is essentially a non-proliferation treaty to which disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy are merely accessory aspects. Countries that do not have nuclear weapons accept not to import, build or acquire nuclear weapons and those that possess weapons accept the duty of not transferring nuclear weapons to those that do not have them. And here lies the main negative aspect of the NPT – the monopoly of nuclear weapons is frozen and the issues of disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear energy are merely addressed in formal terms.

Article 6th of the NPT states that all signatory states are obliged to carry out negotiations on efficient measures regarding the cessation of the nuclear race and nuclear disarmament. Likewise, they commit to conclude a treaty on generalized disarmament under a strict and efficient international control. At this point, the generality, rhetoric and contradiction become clear.

The world needs disarmament and the elimination of all nuclear weapons, not only non-proliferation, not only vague appeals to the good faith of those that possess such weapons so that agreements are made, according strictly to their conveniences and needs, on reducing arsenals.

The Review Conference of the NPT in 2000 offered the hope of disarmament by adopting 13 steps that stated verifiable and irreversible measures for disarmament and the reduction of the role of nuclear weapons in the defense strategies of great powers. Those 13 steps also included the implementation of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Unfortunately, however, those efforts made by the countries of the Coalition for a New Agenda, among which non-aligned countries, were frustrated.

The abandonment of commitments made in the NPT Review Conference in 2000, the exclusive emphasis on non-proliferation, the prioritization of nuclear weapons in defense strategies, the inefficiency and lack of transparency in agreements to reduce strategic weapons and the United States’ insistence in creating defense shields, as well as its refusal to the commitment of not being the first to use nuclear weapons, reveal that the great powers holding nuclear weapons, especially the United States, are not willing to take significant steps towards disarmament. Since 2001 nuclear blackmails has increased as the United States, by announcing its new doctrine of national security based on preventive war, reaffirmed its right to resort to all kinds of weapons, including nuclear ones. Our main preoccupations concentrate in that aspect. The NPT has not resulted in significant or concrete steps towards disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

The emphasis on non-proliferation has led to another serious distortion in terms of pressures to force countries to adhere to the additional protocol and renounce to the irrevocable right to develop nuclear technology with peaceful ends, a right that is formally acknowledged in the NPT. This right, on which grounds non-nuclear nations – mainly underdeveloped and developing countries – agreed to ratify, is being flagrantly violated as we can see by the attempt to sanction and threaten countries that are trying to develop nuclear weapons with peaceful ends.

Ladies and gentlemen, Comrades,

As we approach another review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the pacifist movements express their fair concern with the maintenance of great arsenals of nuclear weapons. The presidents of the United States and Russia have just announced a bilateral agreement to reduce strategic weapons, which is considered the most significant in the last 20 years, agreeing to reduce arsenals to 1,550 strategic warheads in seven years. The agreement has nothing but a symbolic meaning as it is connected to the bilateral relations between those countries in the geopolitical field – it has no meaning in terms of reducing the danger of destroying the world.

As a demonstration that the announced reduction of warheads has nothing to do with the efforts for peace, the development of the “Prompt Global Strike” project was announced a few days ago. That is a new weapon to be assembled in long-distance missiles that are able to fly in a speed several times faster than the sound. Therefore, as they are launched in the United States, they are able to hit any place on the earth in less than an hour. The justification is to maintain the so-called dissuasive power, even as the nuclear arsenal is reduced.

The world’s largest nuclear power has announced its new defense strategy and held an international conference in Washington a few weeks ago on nuclear security with the proclaimed objective of fighting “nuclear terrorism” and preventing terrorist networks from acquiring the capacity of producing and handling the atomic bomb.

Amid the rhetoric on disarmament, the United States proclaimed once again that it has the right to use nuclear weapons in circumstances viewed as “extreme” in order to “defend the vital interests of America and its allies.” And once more the superpower refused to declare that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. Under such circumstances, to what use are speeches that favor non-proliferation? Before such threats, how the government of countries that do not possess nuclear weapons should behave? Should they succumb to blackmail and pressure or affirm their sovereignty and their rights demanding international treaties where the key is equality and commitments are valid for all?

 As a movement of pacifism and solidarity to countries and peoples attacked or under the threat of aggression, we could not silence before the evidence that, as a new defense policy is launched and as a nuclear safety conference is held, two countries were placed under international suspicion and threatened with war in case they do not submit to imperial designs.

Six and a half decades ago, when it entered the international stage as a superpower willing to dominate the world and organize it according to its own interests, the United States perpetrated a nuclear attack against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, causing the death of more than 200 thousand people and incalculable destruction. That was an unnamable crime against humankind for which that country has not been punished. Today, that same empire makes threats of using again its nuclear weapons against countries viewed as “violators” of international laws that do not accept its impositions. With an infinitely greater arsenal, which price peoples and nations would pay in case those threats are carried out? Such distress is justified since, as we have highlighted, the United States, while launching its new defense policy a few weeks ago, has refused to commit to not being the first country to make use of nuclear weapons.

The progress of the international situation is characterized by war actions and impregnated with new threats. Not a long time ago, under the pretext of preventing a country from using weapons of mass destruction, in spite of international law and without an authorization by the UN Security Council, the United States started a war of occupation with objectives that had nothing to do with what was proclaimed, as it became clear shortly after. The occupation forces admitted that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction. In Central Asia, under the pretext of hunting terrorists and preventing the return of a fundamentalist force to power, another war is carried out, charging a high price in terms of human lives and material losses. In Palestine, a country that possesses nuclear weapons – although it would not confirm that fact – submit that people to an indescribable martyrdom. In Lebanon, during the attacks of the Israeli air force three and a half years ago, the Secretary of State of the allied power in the occasion declared that those were the “birth pains of the new Middle East.” Today humankind listens to slogans on peace and disarmament, but until now the announcements of a world free from wars and without nuclear weapons are nothing but rhetoric or the manifestation of a vague ideal. In practice, blackmail and threats still prevail, demanding attention and combativeness from our part.

Ladies and gentlemen, comrades,

The severity with which we face historical experience and the dangers and threats looming over peoples are not disconnected to our convictions that peace and disarmament are possible. Those convictions date to the origins of the World Peace Council and to its founding document issued 60 years ago, the Stockholm Appeal, which besides demanding the abolition of nuclear weapons, condemns countries that make use of those weapons as perpetrators of crimes against humankind.

The cause of peace, disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons is, first and foremost, an issue for peoples and nations that fight to consolidate their sovereignty and development, a struggle that demand collective awareness, unity and broad social mobilization. It is a struggle for all humankind.

Thank you very much.

Socorro Gomes, President of the World Peace Council