Wesley Seale lectures at Rhodes University.
Wesley Seale lectures at Rhodes University.

Global community must reject more nuke deals

By Wesley Seale Time of article published Oct 18, 2021

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OPINION: According to the United Nations, achieving global nuclear disarmament remains one of the oldest goals of the organisation. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. Yet today, about 13 080 nuclear weapons still exist globally.

Election campaigns at home can distract one from what is happening in the rest of the world.

“The world is changing too fast,” said my friend recently, when I told her that keeping abreast of international developments has not been easy these days.

Yet some important events have been happening internationally. For example, the United Nations General Assembly recently hosted a high-level meeting on the commemoration of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

On December 5, 2013, the General Assembly declared September 26 as International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. This year’s commemoration was marked by the enactment of the Treaty of the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) earlier this year, on January 22.

Participating in this high-level meeting, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor said that as the only country to have voluntarily abandoned nuclear weapons, South Africa "remains deeply concerned that the nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the unequivocal undertakings made in the context of its Review Conferences, remain unfulfilled”.

The minister said South Africa was convinced that as long as nuclear weapons exist, humanity would be burdened under the yoke of “the threat of their immense, uncontrollable and indiscriminate use”.

On April 12 this year, Africa marked 25 years of the opening for signature of the African Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone Treaty, or, as it is also known, the Pelindaba Treaty, which established a nuclear weapon free zone on the continent of Africa. In this respect, Africa is a leading continent.

According to the United Nations, achieving global nuclear disarmament remains one of the oldest goals of the organisation. It was the subject of the General Assembly’s first resolution in 1946. Yet today, about 13 080 nuclear weapons still exist globally.

Regrettably, a week before the global community met in New York to engage in encouraging nuclear disarmament, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia had signed the new AUKUS Treaty.

The nuclear deal between the countries follows the United States’ withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in August 2019, which had committed the US and Russia to eliminating a category of nuclear missiles. Under AUKUS, the US, together with the UK, will not seek to diminish nuclear exploration, but will instead assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines.

Commenting on this new nuclear treaty and other associations or alliances, Dr Pandor, in an interview with international broadcaster Al-Jazeera on the sidelines at the UN, said: “If they work toward a development agenda then they exist for the good. But if they work in a manner that seeks to compete with each other, and destroy one economy and have another, you know, being the largest in the world and everybody else should disappear, then you have problems.”

It is clear under which category AUKUS falls. It is not developmental but rather one economy seeking to remain the largest, while disregarding or attempting to destroy the rest of us.

The European Union, as well as the French, have condemned the US for AUKUS, suggesting that the global community was witnessing Trump days again. The French in particular though were more annoyed with the Australians striking a deal with the US and not them.

It has been a privilege to meet Minister Pandor, now and then, on the elections trail in the Western Cape. However, unlike me, she has not only been concentrating on elections, but also on doing her job as well; representing our country to the world and emphasising our fervent belief that we should be reducing nuclear armouries, and not signing new deals to encourage them.

*Seale has a PhD in international relations.

**The views expressed here may not be that of IOL.

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