Ian Williams

Written By: Ian Williams
Published: December 19, 2014 Last modified: October 25, 2016

In the United Nations, a flight of disarmament resolutions went through in December – and the nuclear powers, including Britain, disappeared up their diplomatic rears abstaining or voting against core principles in the treaty.

Significantly, one resolution calling for a nuclear-free Middle East passed by 161 votes, with the United States, Canada, Palau, Micronesia and, of course, Israel voting against. No fewer than 18 cowardly countries abstained, including Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Britain. In contrast, the tiny Marshall Islands, totally dependent on the US Congress, had more integrity than Britain, and voted for.

The Marshall Islands has gone to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for a ruling on the failure of the nine nuclear nations to disarm, and asking the court to require them to stop maintaining and modernising their weaponry as well as take substantial steps to disarmament.

The Marshallese know whereof they speak since US exploded out no less than 23 hydrogen bombs on the itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny atoll of Bikini in the former Strategic Trust territory. Five of those nine would-be nuclear bombers, Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, are signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which bars new nations from going nuclear but which also requires the existing nuclear states to move towards complete disarmament. Among the 190 signatories is Iran. Not among them are India, Pakistan – and Israel.

So why would Britain, Germany and France vote against a resolution whose principles their countries have publicly endorsed and committed to?  The reason is that the resolution was not about North Korea, or even Iran, but specifically called on Israel to “accede to that treaty without further delay, not to develop, produce test or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, to renounce possession of nuclear weapons” and to put its nuclear facilities under the safeguard of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

US representative Robert Wood claimed that the resolution “fails to meet the fundamental tests of fairness and balance. It confines itself to expressions of concern about the activities of a single country.” His statement epitomises the absurdities of Washington’s position. In a resolution calling for a US backed nuclear-free zone in the Middle East, is it “unfair” and “unbalanced” to mention the one nuclear state in the region?

But the US is the mover of all the resolutions in the UN Security Council, identifying Iran as the only threat to disarmament in the Middle East. Iran is not the most palatable regime in region, although on almost every human right standard, it far surpasses our Saudi allies. But the ayatollahs have declared nuclear weapons unIslamic. Iran has signed and apparently observes all the chemical and biological warfare conventions and treaties, and has not invaded any of its neighbours. Although its citation of its “inalienable right” right to civil nuclear development might sound pompous and portentous, it is lifted straight from the Non-Proliferation Treaty which it has signed and Israel hasn’t.

Indeed, the Security Council resolution against Iran was only possible because Washington won over the vote of India, a nuclear non-signatory of the NPT, by exempting it from sanctions for its own nuclear programme to get a reference from the IAEA.

In contrast, Israeli politicians have openly called for military action against Iran on the mere suspicion of possible nuclear capability – thereby violating the most fundamental core of the UN Charter. It has flouted the NPT, and has a nuclear arsenal.

The reaction of the US and the Europeans is to pour treasure, armaments and diplomatic support to Israel. Germany provides advanced nuclear-capable submarines to the world’s biggest nuclear power outside the NPT.

Sadly the more reactionary governments become, the more support they win from across the political spectrum of European leaders, who all preach to the world about respect for UN resolutions, international law, nuclear disarmament, the International Criminal Court and the Geneva Conventions – unless anyone tries to apply them to one bellicose state in the Eastern Mediterranean.

About Ian Williams

Ian Williams is Tribune’s UN correspondent