Antinuclear activists and NGO members from around the world are gathering at the United Nations this April to press for the eradication of all nuclear weapons.
Every five years the UN hosts one of these meetings, called the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, or RevCon for short. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which was signed by more than 185 countries since 1970, was a promise from the U.S., China, France, the Soviet Union, and the UK (the nuclear weapons states) to eliminate their arsenals of nuclear weapons. In exchange, the nonnuclear weapons states would promise never to acquire them.
It is now 30 years after this treaty was signed, and there are still 36,000 nuclear weapons on the planet—12,000 of them in the U.S. Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia is willing to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the U.S. Senate defeated in 1999. Putin also stated Russia would reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,500 weapons if the U.S. does the same. However, the U.S. government spent $4.6 billion this year on research and design of nuclear warheads, and plans to continue that level of spending over then next 10 years. This April, President Bill Clinton urged India to renounce its atomic bombs while the Pentagon conducted “sub-critical” nuclear tests in Nevada. If the U.S. and other nuclear weapons states don’t stop dragging their feet about nuclear abolition, nonnuclear weapons states like North Korea and Iraq could very well decide to withdraw from the treaty, destroying it entirely.
This spring’s RevCon is a crucial meeting. Here is what you can do to add your voice to the ever-growing faction of antinuclear activists from around the world.
Sign the Abolition 2000 petition. Over 13 million people have already signed this international petition to abolish nuclear weapons, which will be presented to Ambassador Baali from Algeria, the chairperson of RevCon. To add your name or your organization’s name to the petition, go to the Abolition 2000 Web site at www.napf.org/abolition2000, or fax your name, address, fax and telephone numbers, and e-mail to Carah Ong at (805) 568-0466.
Send letters to Clinton, Gore, and Albright urging them to attend the conference and to make total disarmament a central topic of debate. (Surprisingly, it wasn’t at the 1995 conference.) The RevCon happens only once every five years; 2005 is too long to wait. Excellent sample letters are up at www.times-up.net.
Anyone can attend the RevCon, which will be held at the UN from April 24 to May 19. Register before April 24 by calling the NGO Comittee on Disarmament at (212) 687-5340.
Go to an antinuclear rally. At 9 AM on April 25, there will be a rally to acknowledge all victims of the nuclear era at the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City at 47th Street and First Avenue, across from the UN.
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) will stage political actions for its 85th anniversary; teach-ins in New York, Fresno, Cleveland, Tucson, and Chapel Hill during the week of April 24 to generate public awareness about the NPT RevCon. Call (212) 533-2125 for more information.
The following four Web sites are invaluable resources on the NPT RevCon:
Reaching Critical Will
Organized by the director of WILPF’s UN office, this site has an extensive archive on the history of the NPT review conferences, with links to official documents. Audio coverage of this RevCon will be posted daily.
The Global Resource Action Center for the Environment’s Nuclear Abolition Project has action alerts, antinuclear fact sheets, and info on how to register for the RevCon as an NGO representative. It also has