October 20, 2007
Dear Parliamentary Colleague,
Last Thursday we participated in an exciting forum at the United Nations in New York featuring women leadership for a nuclear-weapons-free world. Legislators, diplomats, civil society representatives and celebrities – including supermodel Christie Brinkley - joined together in a call-to-action to halt the increasing threats posed by nuclear weapons, and to signal hope for the global abolition of these ultimate weapons of mass destruction.
The forum was held during the first week of the United Nations General Assembly Disarmament Committee, which involves international discussions by governments at the United Nations on disarmament issues and initiatives. The forum also coincided with the appointment of five women as the first co-presidents of the Parliamentary Network for Nuclear Disarmament.
We write now to request your action to support two key initiatives on this issue that are being considered by the United Nations over the next two weeks.
The first is a draft resolution calling for nuclear weapons to be taken off high alert status. Thousands of weapons in the US and Russian arsenals are primed and ready to be fired within minutes. This poses a huge risk of a devastating nuclear exchange by accident, miscalculation or unauthorized order (for example, through infiltration of command systems). Sponsored by Chile, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland, this draft resolution encourages the US and Russia to stand-down their forces and create a nuclear fire-break. It would also encourage the other nuclear weapon countries not to bring their nuclear forces to a high level of alert status.
The second is the submission of a draft treaty on the abolition of nuclear weapons to the United Nations as a demonstration that nuclear disarmament is technically and politically possible. The draft treaty (or Model Nuclear Weapons Convention) was submitted to the States Parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by Costa Rica and Malaysia in May this year. Submitting it now to the United Nations would make it available to all countries and would help stimulate negotiations for global nuclear disarmament.
We urge you to contact your foreign minister and your United Nations ambassador to encourage support for these two initiatives.
Hon Marian Hobbs MP Hon Alexa McDonough MP
Parliamentary Network for Nuclear Disarmament Parliamentary Network for Nuclear Disarmament
For more information see:
- UN First Committee Monitor
- Information on UN First Committee including government statements, draft resolutions, and calendar of events.
- Rebuttal of the U.S. Statement on Nuclear Weapons Alert, Dismantlements and Reductions, Hans Kristensen, Federation of American Scientists, October 19, 2007
- Rebuttal of the U.S. Statement on the Alert Status of U.S. Nuclear Forces, Bruce Blair, World Security Institute, October 13, 2007
Draft UN Resolution:
Decreasing the Operational Readiness of Nuclear Weapons Systems
Chile, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland
The General Assembly,
Recalling that the maintenance of nuclear weapons on high alert was a feature of Cold War nuclear postures, and welcoming the increased confidence and transparency since the cessation of the Cold War,
Concerned that, notwithstanding the end of the Cold War, several thousand nuclear weapons remain on high alert, ready to be launched within minutes,
Noting the increased engagement in multilateral disarmament fora in support of further reductions to the operational status of nuclear weapons systems,
Recognising that the maintenance of nuclear weapons systems at a high level of readiness increases the risk of the use of such weapons, including the unintentional or accidental use, which would have catastrophic consequences,
Recognising also that reductions in deployments and the lowering of operational status contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security as well as to the process of nuclear disarmament, through the enhancement of confidence-building and transparency measures, and a diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies,
Welcoming bilateral initiatives, such as the proposed US/Russia Joint Centre for the Exchange of Data from Early Warning Systems and Notification of Missile Launches, which can play a central role in operational status reduction processes,
Welcoming also the steps taken by some States to reduce the operational status of their nuclear weapons systems, including de-targeting initiatives and increases in the amount of preparation time required for deployment.
- 1. Calls for the taking of further practical steps to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear weapons are removed from high alert status,
- 2. Urges States to update the General Assembly on progress made in the implementation of this resolution,
- 3. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
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