The 2019 Chair’s reflection on the Prepcom has set the challenge for 2020: “The 50th Anniversary of the entry into force, and the 25th Anniversary of the indefinite extension of the Treaty in 2020, require a demonstrable commitment to the Treaty by States parties. Looking beyond 2020 also requires reaffirming and implementing past commitments, and this is needed to maintain the integrity of the Treaty following the commemorations.” He urged States to keep an open mind in order to avoid the deadlock, but the persistent refusal of nuclear weapons states to discuss their right to detain the bombs indefinitely against their own commitment to negotiate disarmament, was once again demonstrated during the Prepcom.
But the pressure is building up against the 9 nuclear possessors and their allies. During the Prepcom, although the debates in the official conference were predictable, many side events organized by civil society organisations, experts and diplomats demonstrated possibilities to move away from entrenched positions towards disarmament.
IPB organized several events with partners, among which, on May 4, the International Conference “Growing Nuclear Risks in a changing World- New Thinking and Movement Building” with 200 participants and experts from all continents. They stressed the importance of mobilizing of civil society to enhance nuclear disarmament as a vital challenge together with climate change. Speakers came from Russia, Japan, US, France, Germany, South Korea, Israel, Iran and the International Trade Union Confederation that reminded the invaluable contribution of the worker’s movement to nuclear disarmament and called for its renewal. Daniel Ellsberg, the famous US analyst and whistleblower, that published the secret Pentagon Papers during the Viet Nam war, gave a very strong speech. Speakers demonstrated both the high level of danger in this period but also the possibilities for people to influence governments with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons-TPNW as a driver towards nuclear abolition.
IPB ran also several side events in the UN, among which one on “Nuclear weapons in Europe” with speakers from Pugwash, CND, ICAN-France and PAX, chaired by Reiner Braun, IPB co-President. The renewal of the nuclear weapons based in Europe both in France and UK and in the “hosting states” came as a central theme with the necessity to broader pressure on the nuclear allies in strengthening the supportive movement towards the entry onto force of the TPNW.
On the second week of the Prepcom, IPB organized a side-event focusing on “Modernisations and New Nuclear Technologies”. US experts from Western States Legal Foundation and the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security and French expert from ICAN France described the trends of the new nuclear arms race fuelled by new budgets directly removed from social needs.
To focus on Europe, despite a majority of the populations objecting to this stationing, the currently deployed 180 B61 nuclear gravity bombs in US airbases in five European countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey) are under way to be replaced by a new version, the B61-12. The Federation of American Scientists reports, however, that there are 2-5 year delays on the B61-12 project as a whole, while new bomb plans (B61-13) are meant to start in 2038. These are the weapons the United States deploys outside their territory, it is yet unclear when the new bombs will be delivered to their European locations.
IPB also brought support to hold a side event on “Nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East” with Israeli Disarmament Movement, that usefully brought back to the participants minds the demand from Arab States and the international community to negotiate a nuclear-free zone in this region where the tensions are building up.