Mary Hladky, a PeaceWorks Board member, gave this talk at the
Hiroshima/Nagasaki Remembrance on Aug. 6. The event, with cicadas in the background, was at Loose Park in KC MO.

On July 7th of this year, a global treaty entitled Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was adopted at the United Nations headquarters in NYC.

This global treaty was finalized by 122 nuclear-weapons- free countries, representing two-thirds of the UN’s 193 member countries. This treaty prohibits the possession, development, testing, use, and threat of use of nuclear weapons.

The treaty opens for signature on Sept. 20 and enters into legal force 90 days after being ratified by 50 countries.

The participants to this treaty do NOT include any of the world’s nine nuclear-armed countries (US, UK, France, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, N. Korea and Israel), nor their allies. In a joint
statement released after the treaty was adopted, the United States, Britain, and France said, “We do not intend to sign, ratify, or ever become party to it.”

Proponents of the treaty never expected any nuclear-armed country would sign it — at least not at first. Rather, supporters hope, the treaty’s widespread acceptance elsewhere will eventually increase the public pressure and stigma of harboring and threatening to use such weapons of unspeakable destruction, and make holdouts reconsider their positions.

The treaty is really rooted in humanitarian law, and it does provide a path for nuclear-armed states to join at a later date.

The countries supporting this treaty know that nuclear warfare knows no boundaries, makes no distinction between soldier and civilian, and they know any large-scale war would endanger the lives of hundreds of millions of human beings. They know that a crisis like the one now growing in North Korea could leap from a spark to an uncontrollable inferno in unanticipated ways.

With the nuclear-armed states opposed to any such treaty, it will be a long road to the elimination of nuclear arsenals, via a route still largely uncharted. Our work is cut out for us.

  • We must oppose the administration’s plan to spend $1.2 trillion of our taxpayers’ dollars on modernization of its nuclear arsenal.
  • We must demand that nuclear-armed governments stop threatening and start talking to adversaries. This is of utmost importance, even when prospects for resolution of conflicts seem most dim. It is incumbent on the most powerful governments to take the initiative.
  • We must support this new treaty by pressuring our elected officials with our calls, letters, in-person visits, and in the streets, demanding that they work to eliminate nuclear weapons from our world.