Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Measure to Take Nukes Off High Alert Passes UN Committee 124-3

Posted by K.E. White on November 2, 2007

A symbolic measure to take nuclear weapons off high alert overwhelming passed a United Nations committee on disarmament. The measure must now be voted by the UN General Assembly. 

The United States, France and Great Britain were the only nations that voted against the resolution—but 34 nations opted to abstain. 

While adopting the resolution would mitigate concerns over accidental nuclear launches, these changes could diminish the deterrence value of a nation’s nuclear weapons. 

From the Associated Press:

The resolution, co-sponsored by Chile, New Zealand, Nigeria, Sweden and Switzerland, now goes to the 192-nation General Assembly for a final vote. Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but reflect opinions of world governments.

The resolution calls for taking steps “to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems, with a view to ensuring that all nuclear weapons are removed from high alert status.”

If nations with nuclear weapons choose to follow the recommendations, launching nuclear weapons would go from taking minutes to days. [Source: New Zealand’s Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Goff as cited in The Age]

The Associated Press brings attention to Britain’s rationale in voting against the measure:

John Duncan, Britain’s ambassador for multilateral arms control and disarmament, said “we voted against it because we don’t think that de-alerting is the primary issue that we need to address if we are to head to a nuclear-free world.”

“We think the emphasis should be on other things, the numbers of nuclear weapons, not the operational readiness, and also the concerns of proliferation,” he said.

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