MAY 14 – Fifty campaigners from across the US joined together yesterday in Brooklyn to launch a national campaign in support of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
This Treaty, which prohibits the development, testing, production, deployment, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, and requires environmental remediation and assistance to victims of the nuclear age, was adopted by 122 countries at the UN on 7 July 2017. The US, its nuclear allies, and other nuclear weapon possessor states boycotted the negotiations and have been pressuring other countries not to sign the Treaty.
Campaigners in the US want cities and states – as well as businesses, universities, faith communities, and individuals – to comply with the treaty nevertheless; to defy the US government on this issue and show their solidarity with the rest of the world, much as cities, states, businesses, and others have come out in support of the Paris Climate Accord despite the US government’s decision to pull the US out of that agreement.
Towns and cities in the US cannot “sign” an international treaty, nor can they remove the nuclear weapons that may be stationed or their soil, since this is the sole prerogative of the US government. They can, however, pass legally-binding resolutions and local ordinances and statutes that prohibit companies from manufacturing and maintaining these weapons within their jurisdiction. They can divest city and state funds from these companies and they can refuse to sign city and state contracts with these companies.
“In 1983, the City of Takoma Park, Maryland, was one of the first US cities to become a nuclear free zone by a city ordinance,” said Paul Gunter, a member of the Takoma Park Nuclear Free Zone Committee. The committee was created by the ordinance to vet all city contracts to assure compliance on the prohibition to do business with nuclear weapons manufacturers. Gunter added, “Takoma Park now becomes the first US city to declare compliance with the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, in the effort to set our nation on the same path to ban nuclear weapons.”
The Takoma Park Committee is already working on the next stage of addressing this issue, by calling on the city to divest from the banks that are themselves financing the nuclear weapons industry. This is part of an international effort led by Don’t Bank on the Bomb campaign to get financial institutions all over the world to divest from the nuclear weapons industry. Two of the largest pension funds in the world – the Norwegian Sovereign Fund and ABP in the Netherlands, have already divested billions from the nuclear industry.
“Our campaign is about putting pressure on the United States government and the other nuclear nations to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. But it’s more – we’re putting pressure on the 26 companies that make nuclear weapons to realize the time has come to shift to other industries – like those that address climate change,” said NuclearBan.US co-founder Vicki Elson.