The following statement was issued today by the IPPNW Executive Committee. Medact is the UK affiliate of IPPNW – International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. IPPNW won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 for spreading authoritative information and raising awareness of the catastrophic consequences of atomic warfare.
The agreement on Iran’s nuclear programs announced today by Iran and the United States is welcome news for a number of reasons. The terms of the deal, negotiated over a 20-month period by diplomats from Iran and six other States, should assure the international community that Iran will continue to abide by its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). There are no nuclear weapons in Iran today, and compliance with the agreement will make it far less likely that Iran can acquire nuclear weapons in the future. The US Senate, which has insisted upon its right to ratify the agreement, must now act responsibly and do so without delay or partisan bickering.
The agreement is also an important victory for diplomacy over military confrontation. Lifting economic sanctions against Iran and ending the policy of isolation that has imposed terrible hardships on the Iranian people can go a long way toward restoring peace and stability in the region.
For at least 10 years now, concerns over Iran’s intentions with regard to the acquisition of nuclear weapons and the development of weapons-capable technologies and materials, while understandable, have diverted attention from the world’s most serious and immediate nuclear threat. There are still more than 15,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of nine states: the United States, Russia, China, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. While the US and Russia have the vast majority of those weapons, most of these countries have the ability to kill hundreds of millions of people in a matter of moments and to induce a global climate disaster that would bring a nuclear famine to as many as two billion. The US and Russian arsenals—relics of the Cold War—are still large enough to destroy life on Earth several times over.
While insisting that Iran not become the next country to acquire the capacity to unleash such a humanitarian catastrophe upon the world, the existing nuclear-armed states have failed to fulfill their disarmament obligations under the NPT, have declared their intention to retain nuclear weapons into some indefinite future, and are spending trillions of dollars on modernization programs that assume a role for nuclear weapons for the rest of this century.
What is good for Iran—and for the other 185 nuclear-weapon-free NPT member states—is good for the nine nuclear-armed states and for the world as a whole. A treaty banning nuclear weapons, negotiated and adopted by non-nuclear states, would send an unmistakable signal to the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, India, Pakistan, Israel, and the DPRK that continuing to possess nuclear weapons is the act of an international outlaw, and that eliminating those arsenals is an obligation that can no longer be deferred.
Note: IPPNW and Medact are members and active supporters of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). ICAN is a global campaign coalition working to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate and support negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The campaign was launched in 2007, and now has more than 400 partner organizations in 95 countries.