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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/10/22

The Troubles of a Fractured World

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Message Jason Sibert

Vladimir Putin's threats to use nuclear weapons in his illegal invasion of Ukraine have awakened many to the dangers of nuclear war.

A war between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia would increase the likelihood of the use of nuclear weapons. One of the factors in this is the fact that Russia and NATO military strategies reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first against any threat, fighting could quickly turn to nuclear war, as stated by Arms Control Association President Darryl Kimball in his story "A Turning Point on Nuclear Deterrence."

Putin's threats violate understandings designed to reduce the dangers of nuclear deterrence, including the 1973 Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, in which the United States and Russia pledged to "refrain from the threat or use of force against the other party, against the allies of the other party and against other countries, in circumstances which may endanger international peace and security." Kimball points out that the international reaction to Putin's nuclear antics has been way too mild.

US President Joe Biden has tried to calm any nuclear fears by denying that nuclear war will break out. He's also referred to Russia's nuclear rhetoric as "dangerous" and "irresponsible." The 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons represented a rejection of nuclear weapons. However, no state that possesses nuclear weapons has signed it. Citing "increasingly strident nuclear rhetoric," the TPNW states-parties issued the Vienna Declaration, which condemns all threats to use nuclear weapons as violations of international law, including the United Nations Charter. The declaration demands "that all nuclear-armed states never use or threaten to use nuclear weapons under any circumstances." The TPNW states-parties condemned "unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances." Far from preserving peace and security, "nuclear weapons are used to coerce and intimidate; to facilitate aggression and inflame tensions."

The treaty said that for many nations the traditional deterrence strategies create unacceptable risks. The only way to prevent the danger is to reinforce the norms against using nuclear weapons. NATO leaders say that it's necessary for NATO countries to double down and balance Russia's nuclear treat by building up the West's nuclear arsenal. It's important to remember that the West's nuclear arsenal has done little to deter Russian aggression, and Russian nuclear threats have done little to stop the proxy war between Russia and Ukraine.

Kimball has an international solution to our problems: "the next global gathering concerning nuclear weapons will take place in August at the 10th review conference of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). All states must seek to rise above their differences and work together to reverse today's dangerous nuclear trends." He suggests that non-nuclear states build on the TPNW by encouraging wider support against the use of nuclear weapons. Kimball wants non-nuclear states to encourage nuclear armed states to fulfill The NPT's Article VI disarmament provisions. It must be said that Kimball expresses a genuine concern for nuclear war.

However, and what Kimball doesn't cover in his story, such a prohibition will be impossible until the main power centers of the world, the US, European Union, India, United Kingdom, and China, agree to a prohibition of nuclear weapons. However, geopolitical competition keeps that from happening right now. The main power centers must understand that they must cooperate to bring about such international norms. Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine makes this tough and so does China's belligerent talk about Taiwan. There will be no order in the world until such behavior is ended. Let's hope that it does come to an end quickly.

Jason Sibert is the Lead Writer for the Peace Economy Project.

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Jason Sibert worked for the Suburban Journals in the St. Louis area as a staff writer for a decade. His work has been published in a variety of publications since then and he is currently the executive director of the Peace Economy Project.
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