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Dismay at P5 boycott of the Oslo inter-governmental nuclear conference

The Scream, Edvard Munch

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It appears that Norway’s deliberate plan to limit the focus of its conference to the “catastrophic consequences of nuclear war” in an attempt to secure the attendance of the nuclear weapons states, has failed with the five nuclear weapons states who signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (known as the P5, as they are the very same nations that have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and wield the veto power in that damaged institution) boycotting the event.

The P5 have ganged up on the rest of the world, consulting with each other and refusing as a group to attend, according to Rose Goettemoeler, the US Acting Undersecretary for Arms Control and National Security, who briefed a group of US NGOs, starting out the conversation by saying:

“I want to talk to you about the US decision not to attend the conference, want you to know what the rationale is, we didn’t take this decision lightly.  It was made in consultation with the P5.  They all agreed not to attend.”

Contending that a focus on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war was a good strategy for NGOs, Goettemoeller insisted that it would be a “distraction” from the “step-by-step” approach preferred by the P5.  But the beloved “step-by-step” approach, leading to a nuclear weapons free world in an infinite number of lifetimes, has brought us the latest abomination, the modest START treaty where Obama made a deal with the weapons labs and arms merchants for $180 billion worth of three new bomb factories, at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Kansas City, as well as new planes, submarines and missiles, over the next ten years, to deliver their lethal nuclear payloads.

One of the first ugly steps was the deal Clinton made in 1992 with the weapons labs when he was trying to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, where he promised $6 billion a year for new high-tech, computer-simulated nuclear bomb laboratory tests coupled with “sub-critical” tests at the Nevada test site, where plutonium is blown up with high explosives, but doesn’t have a chain reaction.

Despite the pledge made in the Non-Proliferation Treaty “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”, the rogue P5, are modernizing their arsenals and taking tiny baby steps leading to nowhere.  All the while the US points to the “greatest threat”, a nuclear terrorist getting a bomb or North Korea or Iran.

Further, they appear to be tone-deaf or blind to the effect that NATO expansion and ballistic missile “offense” is having on the possibility for true nuclear disarmament where major agreements are needed between the US and Russia who have 19,000 of the 20,000 bombs on the planet.  While Goettemoeller said she is looking forward to further progress in nuclear arms cuts with Russia, she discounted Putin’s recent call to beef up its military because of NATO expansion and US missiles planted on its border, characterizing it as a grandstanding speech by Putin made at a meeting of his generals.  We need only recall what happened when the Soviet Union planted missiles in Cuba—we almost started a world war.

The good news about Oslo is that 130 nations have agreed to attend, including India and Pakistan, two nuclear weapons states outside the NPT regime. Perhaps Asia will lead the way to a negotiated treaty to finally ban the bomb.

About The Author

Alice Slater is NY Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and a founder of [Abolition 2000](http://www.abolition2000.org).

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