Andrew Brown: Western Europe could lead the way in disarmament

From a lecture by the biographer of the scientist, Desmond Bernal, given at Birkbeck College in London

Share
Related Topics

The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, signed originally in 1968 and renewed in perpetuity by most of the world's nations in 1995, was intended to stop nuclear proliferation and to prevent global catastrophe.

The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, signed originally in 1968 and renewed in perpetuity by most of the world's nations in 1995, was intended to stop nuclear proliferation and to prevent global catastrophe.

The five original nuclear weapons states flouted it for decades; in more recent times, the Treaty has been strained by the surreptitious attempts of countries such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea to obtain nuclear weapons, while non-signatory states India, Israel and Pakistan have become nuclear powers.

Although the NPT cannot hold sway over nuclear terrorists, it remains the key, international, counter-proliferation agreement. Article VII simply states: "Nothing in the Treaty affects the rights of any group of States to conclude regional treaties in order to assure the total absence of nuclear weapons in their respective territories."

In his farewell speech as President of the World Peace Council in 1965, Desmond Bernal warned against "the monolithic principle of obtaining unanimous decisions, policies and universal actions". It seems this caveat applies to the ideal of global nuclear disarmament, and that a regional approach might be more practicable. The disarmament of former Soviet states and dismantling of Soviet weapons through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program is one example. The obvious place to try next is Western Europe, where France and the United Kingdom could set the world an example by negotiating a regional treaty.

The diplomatic and technical lessons learnt might be invaluable in future regional treaties in more unstable parts of the world where unilateral disarmament is unlikely. Concerted international pressure might result in the gradual, symmetrical reduction of weapons assembled for mutual deterrence.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

£25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Magazine Designer

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This London based publishing co...

Recruitment Genius: Lettings Negotiator - OTE £30,000+

£13500 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Previous experience is benefici...

Recruitment Genius: SharePoint Consultant

£50000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A technical SharePoint Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A young person in the UK is now twice as likely to be poor as a pensioner  

Britain is no country for the young – in jobs, income or housing

Ben Chu
LaGuardia Airport: a relic from a different, gentler age  

New York's LaGuardia Airport to be rebuilt: It could become the best gateway to America

Simon Calder
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic
10 best DSLRs

Be sharp! 10 best DSLRs

Up your photography game with a versatile, powerful machine
Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

Solved after 200 years

The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

Sunken sub

Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

Age of the selfie

Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

Not so square

How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

Still carrying the torch

The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

...but history suggests otherwise
The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

The bald truth

How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

Tour de France 2015

Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

A new beginning for supersonic flight?

Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash