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article imageOp-Ed: US to test missiles on day of UN nuclear disarmament meeting

By Ken Hanly     Sep 20, 2013 in Politics
New York - The US apparently plans to test missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads next week even though Sept. 21 is the International Day of Peace, and Sept. 26 is the day scheduled for a High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament at the UN in New York.
The International Day of Peace is on Sept. 21 and on Sept. 26 there is a high-level meeting on nuclear disarmament at the UN in New York. Rick Wayman of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation said: “Instead of honouring the significance of these dates and working in good faith to achieve nuclear disarmament, the United States has chosen to schedule two tests of its Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile on September 22 and September 26. Just hours after the International Day of Peace ends, the US plans to launch a Minuteman III – the missile that delivers US land-based nuclear weapons – from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. Then, on the same day that most countries will send their head of state or foreign minister to New York for the UN’s first-ever High-Level Meeting on nuclear disarmament, the US plans to send another Minuteman III missile from California to the Marshall Islands. These missiles are designed to carry nuclear warheads capable of killing thousands of times more people than the chemical weapons used in Syria".
The specific dates announced by Wayman have not yet been announced publicly but sources say that there are two Minuteman III scheduled for some time in September and are due to take place on the dates Wayman mentions. The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said that the adoption of the Partial Test Ban Treaty(PTBT) in 1963 was a big step towards putting an end to all nuclear weapon test explosions.
The PTBT banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and in space but not underground. Neither France nor China signed the agreement. The US ratified the treaty. However, the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in September of 1996, has not yet come into force even though 183 countries have signed it and 159 also ratified it. There are eight countries that must ratify the treaty before it can come into force: China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. Ban asked that all states should ratify the treaty and in the meantime all states should refrain from any nuclear explosions.
While China and India both expressed support for negotiating a universal ban on nuclear weapons and Pakistan said it would also follow suit, France, the US and the UK along with Russia oppose even taking preliminary steps to negotiate a legal ban.
John Burroughs, executive director of the Lawyer's Committee for Nuclear policy thought that the US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel should delay the Minuteman tests as he did to avoid a test that would be seen as a provocation by North Korea. In the same way, he should postpone a test that would be seen as an insult to the ministers assembled for the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament on Sept. 26. Burroughs said: “A test on September 26 will definitely be a slap in the face to the foreign ministers and heads of state assembled for the first-ever High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament at the United Nations. Instead of sending a test missile to the Marshall Islands, where health and environment were badly damaged by ferocious atmospheric US nuclear testing in the 1950s, the United States should send President Obama or Secretary of State Kerry to the High-Level Meeting to explain how the United States intends to begin participating in multilateral efforts for global elimination of nuclear weapons".
While the US and Russia trumpet their reduction of weapons under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, they show no sign of giving up their weapons. In fact they are continually modernizing their arsenal and as the US missile tests show, upgrading their delivery capabilities. This shows little regard for the fact their aim is supposed to be to eliminate their weapons: " The 2013 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute states that the nuclear weapons powers, which continue to deploy new nuclear weapons and delivery systems, “appear determined to retain their nuclear arsenals indefinitely.” "
During his 2008 election campaign for president Obama said: "As president, I will reach out to the Senate to secure the ratification of the CTBT at the earliest practical date." Later in a speech in Prague on 5 April 2009, he announced that “[To] achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.” No doubt Obama will get the US Congress to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty right after he closes Guantanamo Bay.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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