On Monday, the General Assembly finished its high-level debate in New York. For over a week, heads of state have taken the floor at the UN to present their views on the state of the world.
Reaching Critical Will followed the debate and extracted all references to arms control, disarmament, multilateralism, nuclear energy, security, proliferation, the arms trade, and nuclear and conventional weapons. These extracts are posted on our Disarmament Index web page. Don’t forget to also check out Peacewomen’s index that list all references to gender and women.
Some of the statements have been more controversial than others. I’m sure you already heard that the Israeli prime minister Mr. Nethanyahu brought his own props to illustrate red lines for Iran’s enrichment of uranium.
The chart is quite confusing and many wondered what he actually meant. Mr. Netanyahu argues that the chart is supposed to show that the red line for the international community should be drawn when Iran is nine-tenths the way along the road to a bomb.
So the 90 % line on his bomb does not refer to 90%-enriched uranium, but to a 90% level of the technical capacity to produce nuclear weapons. He argued that Iran is already at the 70% point (of the capability, not that it has produced 70%-enriched uranium) and that it will reach 90% by next summer.
However, he did not mention that the enriched uranium is under safeguard inspections of the IAEA and allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Of course he conveniently also forgot to mention his own country’s nuclear weapons arsenal.
While being ridiculed and joked about, Netanyahu’s bomb chart worked as a successful strategy of distracting attention from the speaker just before him, Palestinian President, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas. Did you read any reports on Abbas comments on the “ethnic cleanings” in the occupied Palestinian territories? I sure didn’t, all I saw was jokes about Netanyahu’s cartoon and worries about Iran. The strong focus on Iran’s nuclear programme also draws all attention away from the failure of nuclear weapon possessing states to comply with the obligation to disarm and eliminate nuclear weapons.
It is important to never forget that France, Israel, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the four most vocal supporters of sanctions and potential military action against Iran, all possess nuclear weapons themselves. Effective non-proliferation strategies can never be successful when these countries continue to argue that nuclear weapons are essential for their own security (at the expense of the security of the rest of us). Here at WILPF, we are more convinced than ever that solving any proliferation concerns must be done while simultaneously pursuing nuclear disarmament.
You can read more about our work around the General Assembly on Reaching Critical Will’s website.