Say no to nuclear weapons 2

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 July, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 July, 1995, 12:00am

NUCLEAR weapons continue to pose perhaps the greatest threat to humanity and the environment.

Their use means catastrophic destruction, their production results in wide-spread pollution and their proliferation creates a more dangerous world.

The number of nations with nuclear weapons is increasing, with eight countries known to have weapons, including the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, France the UK and China.

Israel, India and Pakistan are believed to possess nuclear weapons capability. South Africa has admitted to building and destroying nuclear weapons and at least nine other countries are believed to be developing nuclear capabilities. There is also the possibility of terrorist organisations developing nuclear weapons.

In recognition of the significant threat to humanity posed by the approximately 50,000 nuclear weapons, many countries have signed an international treaty called the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to limit the spread of nuclear weapons to other non-nuclear states, and for nuclear states to reduce the arsenal of weapons.

There is also a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty which limits nuclear states from testing their nuclear weapons.

This year, there have been two disturbing incidents involving nuclear weapons. The first was when China carried out nuclear tests, only days after the review of the NPT.

More recently, France announced that it would resume nuclear testing in the Pacific (French Polynesia), from September this year.

The decision of the French to resume testing has prompted worldwide condemnation with protests in cities around the world.

This is not the first time France has created controversy with its nuclear policy. In 1974, Australia and New Zealand took France to the World Court in an attempt to stop the atmosphere nuclear testing France was conducting in the South Pacific.

As a result of this pressure, France stopped atmospheric testing in 1975.

Almost 10 years ago, French military commandos blew up the Rainbow Warrior, the Greenpeace campaign ship, killing a Portuguese photographer in the process. The murderers have since been released.

This latest move by France has signalled its complete contempt for world opinion.

There are fears that the French decision will send dangerous signals to other nuclear powers that nuclear testing is acceptable, and to non-nuclear countries that there is no sincere commitment to reducing the arsenal of nuclear weapons.

When 270 students at Sha Tin College signed a petition against the tests, the French Consul-General accused them of launching a 'campaign of hate' against his country. His response outraged the students and insulted the intelligence of a group of socially concerned young people. A peaceful march of protest against the French nuclear testing is being planned this month to give Hong Kong people a chance to tell the French Consul-General 'no nukes please'.

If you would like to find out more about the protest march or nuclear weapons in general, please contact Friends of the Earth on 2528 5588.

Friends of the Earth is a local non-profit environmental organisation. For further information, please call 2528 5588.