Nuclear Weapons 2

Nuclear Weapons – Humanitarian Consequences And International Politics Part II

The NPT and other international agreements have in common a final intention to completely abolish nuclear weapons. That was also the stated goal of President Barack Obama in a famous speech in Cairo in 2009 . Heads of state Ronald Reagan (USA) and Mikhail Gorbachev (Soviet Union) declared the same goal in Reykjavik in 1986.

4: Humanitarian effects

Despite the expressed ambitions, no disarmament seems to be in sight. Both state and non-state actors are therefore frustrated by what they see as the nuclear powers’ unwillingness to follow up on their disarmament and disarmament obligations. Therefore, a number of actors are trying to influence the nuclear powers to a real disarmament. A strategy in the work against nuclear weapons focuses on the consequences of the use of nuclear weapons being unacceptable. In this way, they seek to put pressure on the nuclear powers to get rid of the nuclear weapons.

In March 2013, according to, 127 countries participated in a conference in Oslo that focused precisely on the unacceptable consequences for human life by using only one atomic bomb, not to mention a large-scale nuclear war. The conference was not intended to replace the NPT and established structures. The purpose was to remind the world that nuclear weapons are still a reality. They are not just an abstract piece of negotiation between great powers, or a distant memory from the Cold War and World War II. The conference wanted to bring nuclear disarmament issues out of the domain of security policy and make it a moral issue that concerns all countries and all people – and deprive nuclear weapons of their legitimacy. The then Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide spoke in his speech about the need to talk about nuclear weapons “in a way that reflects the danger these weapons represent.

5: Not new to refer to unacceptable effects

Such an approach to weapons is nothing new under the sun. As early as 1925, a number of states entered into the so-called Geneva Protocol, which bans all use of biological and chemical weapons , precisely because of the cruel and unacceptable effects of these weapons. Later, it has also been forbidden to have such weapons. In 1997, an international ban on the use of landmines was adopted , and in 2008 the Convention on the Use of Cluster Munitions was signed.

Some are trying to change the discussion about nuclear weapons to focus only on the unacceptable humanitarian consequences of using such weapons. These often highlight two points:

  • International law – the international treaty between states – has in a number of conventions established a general ban on weapons that do not distinguish between military and civilian targets(the distinction criterion) and which do so-called undue – unnecessarily large – damage . The use of nuclear weapons has even worse consequences than weapons that have been banned. Nevertheless, nuclear weapons are not illegal to use; they are only subject to the restrictions set by the NPT and other agreements.
  • Experience in working out bans on landmines and cluster munitions has shown that it may be possible to increase the pressure for change, disarmament and bans by focusing on the unacceptable consequences of using certain types of weapons.

6: Nuclear test explosions

In total, more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been carried out – 551 of them in the atmosphere or under water. Most are carried out underground. In the infancy of nuclear weapons, test explosions were crucial to understanding their impact. Today, computers can perform advanced simulations. At the same time, a nuclear test is also a political act, as when North Korea conducted its test explosions in 2006, 2009 and 2013, or France in 1995.

Nuclear Weapons 2

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