EDMONTON — The desire to rid the world of nuclear weapons is gathering momentum, says Senator Douglas Roche.
“Nobody loves nuclear weapons — except their powerfully placed defenders in government, their supporters in the military and terrorists,” Roche says in new book, How We Stopped Loving the Bomb.
In an interview, the former diplomat, politician and founding editor of the WCR said a growing movement recognizes there cannot be a two-class world where some states possess nuclear weapons while saying that other nations cannot acquire them.
In How We Stopped Loving the Bomb, Roche tells the dramatic story of the struggle now going on to end the threat of nuclear warfare and to build human security without nuclear weapons.
He sees a new energy in the work of many governments and citizen organizations to achieve this goal. Much of the impetus is coming from President Barack Obama’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Using a 2010 UN conference in New York City as his starting point, Roche takes readers behind the scenes to describe the many diplomats, members of NGOs and individuals who have come together once again to fight for peace.
The book addresses three grave risks posed by nuclear weapons: those from existing stockpiles, those from the proliferation of such weapons to additional countries, and those from nuclear terrorism.
He argues that we should respond to these challenges not out of fear, but out of a conviction that it is possible to build a safer world without such weapons.
“There is a historical momentum that is building up,” Roche said, pointing to numerous efforts currently underway.
For instance, three-quarters of the governments of the world have voted at the UN to begin global negotiations for a treaty to ban all nuclear weapons.
Mayors for Peace, which represents 4,500 cities around the world, is campaigning for a nuclear-free world by 2020. The European Parliament has approved a resolution to start negotiations.
In Canada, the House of Commons and Senate adopted a resolution asking Canada to take a major new initiative to advance nuclear disarmament.
“The secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, is literally campaigning for a nuclear weapons convention,” Roche pointed out.
In Japan, 14 million people recently signed a petition for a global law against nuclear weapons.
“The evidence is building up that not only have people stopped loving the bomb, but they want to do something concrete to get rid of it,” Roche said.
“I’m not saying that this is going to be easy. I’m saying that we are at a historical moment when the tide is turning against the possession of nuclear weapons.
“Those who possess them and the military industrial complex that finances them are very powerful and so the nuclear mountain is still very high. But we are mounting it; we are moving forward.”
Roche will begin a speaking tour of China, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and Europe at the end of May.
“The time has come for such a global treaty and it’ll only come about if enough people give support to Ban Ki-moon and President Obama.
“Obama wants to move forward; he convened, for the first time, a meeting of the Security Council at the summit level to deal with nuclear disarmament issues.”
Unfortunately there are still 22,000 nuclear weapons in the world that are possessed by nine countries.
If the status quo remains, one of two things will happen: “The proliferation of nuclear weapons will continue, in which case there will be a war, or we can take deliberate steps to a nuclear weapons free world,” Roche advised.
“The danger is certainly real. But that being said, there is a strong movement now building up to get rid of them; it will take many years to do this, but there are highly intelligent, highly placed people around the world who recognize that it must be done for the sake of our children and our grandchildren.”