Letter: Canada unwilling to sign treaty on prohibition of nuclear weapons

Government’s position unlikely to change without pressure from Canadians

What will it take for Canada to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)?

Adopted by the United Nations in 2017, the TPNW would prohibit the manufacture, possession, use, or threatened use of nuclear weapons. Canada so far refuses to sign it.

Early this year, the hands of the Doomsday Clock were moved ahead to 100 seconds before midnight. Experts around the world are warning political leaders and citizens that there is a greater risk of nuclear war now than at the height of the Cold War.

The use of even a fraction of today’s 13,000 thermonuclear bombs would be enough to cause nuclear winter, famine and starvation that would kill nearly all humans on Earth.

At recent international conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings testified to the unspeakable suffering caused by nuclear weapons. This inspired a call for negotiations to begin on a new treaty to ban these weapons of mass destruction.

Read more: Letter: Risk of nuclear weapons use grows with increasing arsenal

Read more: Letter: Nuclear treaty needs signing

The International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, began work in 2007 toward the TPNW. Eighty-one nations have now signed the treaty; 40 have ratified it. Once 50 have ratified, the treaty will go into effect, banning nuclear weapons. This will be a first step towards eliminating them.

The next step will be a treaty containing a timetable to accomplish this. The International Court of Justice has stated unanimously that nations have a legal obligation to negotiate a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Canada’s endorsement of NATO’s nuclear deterrence doctrine is deeply contradictory to this goal. But Canada’s position is unlikely to change without strong pressure from Canadians.

As the world marks the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, Canadians would do well to let the Prime Minister know their views: pm@pm.gc.ca

Anne Morris

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