18 June 2019 brought the planet one step closer to a nuclear war. Russia declared that they – after the USA did so on 2 February 2019 – left the anti-nuclear deal on intermediate-range missiles (INF), which paves the way for a re-nuclearization of the whole of Europe.
The now dead INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) was a historic agreement which was achieved in 1987 between USA and the Soviet Union (Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev) with the intention of decreasing nuclear and conventional missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 km. Several inspections were held for the agreement to enter into force. As a result, the two superpowers at the time destroyed 2,692 nuclear weapons after the agreement came into force on 1 June 1991.
With the dangerous escalation which has been created after the attack on a ship in the Oman Strait, the threats from the USA and the order to send new marine soldiers to the area, Iran announced on 18 June 2019 that they will leave the agreement of limiting nuclear weapons, which was signed after so much effort. They also announced they will continue their efforts of producing nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the agreement with North Korea has already been frozen.
The members of IPPNW warn that the eruption of even a limited nuclear war will not only kill millions of people in the area immediately and even more from the effects of radiation, but it would also be able to start a worldwide catastrophe at a scale never seen before. The dust which will be released into the atmosphere as a result of the fires which will follow the nuclear explosions will lead to a climate change with such effects on crops that it will result in a famine which can hit a quarter of the world’s population. This would mean an estimated death of more than two billion people.
A recent report from SIPRI (May 2019) says that, even though the number of nuclear weapons in the world has been reduced to 13,890, the danger has increased. This is because their modernisation continues and the leaders’ threats of using them are intensifying. According to their announcement, the UK, Russia and the US are continuing their modernisation of their nuclear arsenals, while China, India and Pakistan are increasing the number of nuclear weapons they possess. As well as this, France and Israel maintain the weapons they already possess. It should also be noticed that, even if the number of nuclear weapons is considered a state secret, the USA released overall data in the period of 2010 to 2018. This is something President Trump stopped. SIPRI’s data are based on historic facts and leaks.
More than 100 billion dollars are spent on nuclear weapons a year, money which could be used for goals which actually could increase the security of humanity – such as health, climate change and growth. Nuclear weapons do not bring with them any safety. On the contrary, the only safe choice for humanity is to completely de-nuclearize, which the UN voted in favour of with the TPNW on 7 July 2017
During the Cold War, Greece admitted that they possessed nuclear weapons, despite the denials of all the other governments. These were scrapped following the NPT. We hope we do not become a target of a nuclear attack again immediately due to the new ‘hospitality’ and we call all the political parties to prove with action the claim that they are against nuclear weapons, by pressuring and supporting the Greek government to sign the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) to the UN.
Written by Maria Arvaniti Sotiropoulou
President of the Greek Branch of IPPNW
Representative of ICAN in Greece
Translated by Simen Jordsmyr Holm