Ann Wright at the People's Summit. (Photo via World Can't Wait on Flickr)
By Ann Wright
As a U.S. Army veteran and a survivor of the nuclear missile attack scare in Hawaii three years ago, I am glad to celebrate on Jan. 22, 2021, the new international peace initiative, the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The nuclear missile attack scare we endured here in Hawaii should compel our citizens to think seriously about joining the worldwide nuclear weapons abolition efforts.
The "Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty" as it is also known, was approved by 122 nations in the U.N. General Assembly in July 2017, a clear expression of the will of the world's people. Unfortunately, none of the nine nuclear governments have signed the treaty, showing that the 122 non-nuclear nations that voted for the treaty fear that one or more of the nuclear nations may use nuclear weapons that could result in a "nuclear winter" and the destruction of the planet.
In the U.S., powerful and influential corporations will be making billions of dollars from the nuclear programs over the next decade and will be contributing to congressional campaign funds for their vote for the U.S. to not approve the treaty and to continue their mutual assured destruction rationale for continuing the nuclear weapons arsenal and their profits. The U.S. is spending come into effect.
On Jan. 22, four days after the Jan. 18 national holiday commemorating the birth of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., the treaty $494 billion over the next 10 years and over $1.2 trillion in the next 30 years to "upgrade" its arsenal of nuclear weapons.
For its leadership in working for the passing of the treaty, the International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. In November 2020, Honduras became the 50th country to ratify the Treaty, the number of nations needed for the treaty too comes into force. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in December 1964, King said, "Somehow we must transform the dynamics of the world power struggle from the negative nuclear arms race which no one can win, to a positive contest to harness man's creative genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all of the nations of the world. In short, we must shift the arms race into a...peace race."
The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty prohibits the development or possession of nuclear weapons and the use or threat to use nuclear weapons. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a milestone in the long march toward nuclear abolition. The people of the world have spoken. This is a moment to urge all the nuclear powers to sign the Treaty and begin the process of de-nuclearization. Nowhere is this more important than in the United States, which holds a large portion of the world's nuclear weapons and maintains a dominant military presence throughout much of the world.
The United States could be a leader in the peace race, but only if our leaders hear a loud message from the people: nuclear weapons are very dangerous for humanity and now they will now also be illegal. This is good news for a future free of weapons of mass destruction.
Veterans for Peace's historic anti-nuclear sailing ship, the Golden Rule, will sail from Ala Wai Harbor this Friday, Jan. 22, in the late afternoon with banners celebrating the new treaty. The community is invited to come to Magic Island to see the sailing of the historic ship.
This article first appeared in Op-Ed News.
Ann Wright is a 29-year US Army/Army Reserves veteran, a retired United States Army colonel and retired U.S. State Department official, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War.