“Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith…”
What if words like this actually meant something?
This is Article VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which the United States signed in 1970. It continues: “… on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
Please read it again, slowly, understanding that 190 nations have signed onto these words: “a treaty on general and complete (nuclear) disarmament.” Here’s a wild thought. What if they were recited aloud every Sunday in churches and other public spaces across the nation, the way congregants at my parents’ church recited the Apostle’s Creed when I was a boy? Each word, slowly uttered, welled up from the soul. The words were sacred. Isn’t a world free of nuclear weapons — and beyond that, free of war itself — worth believing in?
The treaty’s preamble also calls for “the cessation of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, the liquidation of all their existing stockpiles, and the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery . . .”
What if these words could stand up to the geopolitics of cynicism and military-industrial profit? What if the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons — the NPT — weren’t simply a verbal coffin in which hope for humanity’s future lay interred? What if it could come to life and help reorganize global culture?
I ask such questions only because I suddenly believe it’s possible, thanks to an unlikely player in the geopolitical realm: a nation with a population of about 70,000 people. Last week I wrote about the fact that the Republic of the Marshall Islands has filed suit in both the International Court of Justice in the Hague and U.S. federal court against the five NPT signatories — the United States, the U.K., China, Russia and France — that possess nuclear weapons, demanding that they comply with the treaty they signed. For good measure, the lawsuit demands compliance from the other four nuclear nations as well — Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea — on the grounds of international law and, well, sanity.