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Archive for the ‘treaties’ category

Mar 29, 2020

Nuclear Proliferation Treaty Troubles Remain Unaddressed Amid a Global Pandemic

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, geopolitics, health, military, treaties

It is vital that would-be bombmakers be disabused of any notion that they could evade tough international sanctions. We need a country-neutral, reasonably predictable, more-or-less automatic sanction regime that puts all countries on notice, even friends of the powerful.

By Victor Gilinsky Henry Sokolski

Just as we’ve had to discard business-as-usual thinking to deal with the current worldwide health emergency; it’s time to get serious about the spread of nuclear weapons. It doesn’t have the immediacy of the coronavirus, but it will last a lot longer and is no less threatening. In particular, we need to fortify the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which is fifty years old this year and badly needs fixing. The April 2020 Review Conference will likely be postponed, which provides time to develop something more than the usual charade of incremental proposals that nibble at the problem.

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Feb 10, 2020

A Plea to Save the Last Nuclear Arms Treaty

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, military, treaties

Two former diplomats, from Russia and America, call for extending the nuclear arms limitation pact called New START, to make the world more secure.

Jan 30, 2020

‘Absolutely Horrific’: Trump Preparing to Roll Back Restrictions on US Military Use of Landmines

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, military, policy, treaties

President Donald Trump is reportedly preparing to roll back established constraints on the U.S. military’s ability to use landmines overseas despite the weapons’ long history of killing and maiming civilians around the world.

More than 160 nations have ratified the Mine Ban Treaty, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, which prohibits the stockpiling, production, and use of landmines. The United States is one of just 32 U.N. member states that have not ratified the treaty.


“Trump’s policy rollback is a step toward the past, like many of his other decisions, and sends exactly the wrong message to those working to rid the world of the scourge of landmines.”

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Jan 8, 2020

Ringing the Alarm on Killer Robots

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, robotics/AI, treaties

Major military powers are racing to embrace weapons that select and fire on targets without meaningful human control. This is raising the specter of immoral, unaccountable, largely uncontrollable weapon systems – killer robots. It is also driving fears of widespread proliferation and arms races leading to global and regional instability.

There is increasing recognition that it’s time to ring the alarm on these weapons systems. This month in Paris, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a new international treaty to ban killer robots, stating that “machines that have the power and discretion to kill without human intervention are politically unacceptable and morally despicable.”

Yet at last week’s meeting of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) at the UN in Geneva, states made no progress towards launching negotiations on a treaty to ban or restrict such fully autonomous weapons. Instead, they agreed to spend the next two years developing a “normative and operational framework” to address concerns raised by such weapons systems.

Sep 30, 2019

How to dismantle a nuclear bomb: Team successfully tests new method for verification of weapons reduction

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, military, treaties

How do weapons inspectors verify that a nuclear bomb has been dismantled? An unsettling answer is: They don’t, for the most part. When countries sign arms reduction pacts, they do not typically grant inspectors complete access to their nuclear technologies, for fear of giving away military secrets.

Instead, past U.S.-Russia arms reduction treaties have called for the destruction of the delivery systems for nuclear warheads, such as missiles and planes, but not the warheads themselves. To comply with the START treaty, for example, the U.S. cut the wings off B-52 bombers and left them in the Arizona desert, where Russia could visually confirm the airplanes’ dismemberment.

It’s a logical approach but not a perfect one. Stored nuclear warheads might not be deliverable in a war, but they could still be stolen, sold, or accidentally detonated, with disastrous consequences for human society.

Sep 21, 2019

Greta Thunberg: Most Important Message Ever

Posted by in categories: climatology, education, energy, environmental, existential risks, geopolitics, government, homo sapiens, lifeboat, policy, treaties

If you are a Lifeboat subscriber or have been reading these pages for awhile, you may know why it’s called “Lifeboat”. A fundamental goal of our founder, board, writers and supporters is to sustain the environment, life in all its diversity, and—if necessary—(i.e. if we destroy our environment beyond repair, or face a massive incoming asteroid), to prepare for relocating. That is, to build a lifeboat, figuratively and literally.

But most of us never believed that we would face an existential crisis, except perhaps a potential for a 3rd World War. Yet, here we are: Burning the forests, killing off unspeakable numbers of species (200 each day), cooking the planet, melting the ice caps, shooting a hole in the ozone, and losing more land to the sea each year.

Regading the urgent message of Greta Thunberg, below, I am at a loss for words. Seriously, there is not much I can add to the 1st video below.

Information about climate change is all around us. Everyone knows about it; Most people understand that it is real and it that poses an existential threat, quite possibly in our lifetimes. In our children’s lives, it will certainly lead to war, famine, cancer, and massive loss of land, structures and money. It is already raising sea level and killing off entire species at thousands of times the natural rate.

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Sep 4, 2019

What the new arms race will look like in a post-INF world

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, military, treaties

Washington ending the INF arms control treaty has raised fears of a new “arms race.” This time it will be about more than just missiles, with China presenting strong competition to the US and Russia, a military expert tells RT.

Last week’s test of a ground-launched Tomahawk cruise missile showed that the US is eager to field a system banned by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, even as it accused Russia – without offering evidence – of being in violation as a pretext to rip up the 1987 pact.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a “symmetrical response” to this threat, citing the presence of US launchers in Poland and Romania. Meanwhile, the Russian delegation to the UN has warned that the US actions have brought the world “just one step away from an uncontrolled arms race.”

Jul 17, 2019

Secret locations of US nuclear weapons hidden in Europe are revealed

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, military, treaties

The secret locations of US nuclear weapons hidden in Europe have been revealed in a NATO document.

A draft report for the NATO parliamentary assembly’s defence and security committee seen by AFP gave details of six air bases in Europe and Turkey where it said the US stores 150 nuclear weapons, specifically B-61 gravity bombs.

The news comes amid fears of a new nuclear arms race in Europe, as a landmark Cold War treaty between Moscow and Washington is on the brink of collapse.

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Jul 6, 2019

How Will We Govern Ourselves in Space?

Posted by in categories: geopolitics, law, space travel, treaties

A new golden age of space exploration is upon us, with growing numbers of countries and private enterprises eager to establish themselves in space for the sake of scientific inquiry, national prestige, adventurous tourism, billionaires’ bragging rights, mineral riches, and even as a hedge against any future calamity that might devastate our home planet.

Our motivations for exploration may vary, but the spaceward rush raises questions about how we will govern ourselves beyond the bonds of Earth. Cold War-era space treaties, vague notions of how legal frameworks on Earth might migrate to settlements in space, and cautionary tales from both history and science fiction offer some guidance, but we could benefit from a larger conversation about how we want to govern them.

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May 4, 2019

The Otso Incident with Donovia in 2030

Posted by in categories: computing, finance, geopolitics, treaties

“If we don’t study the mistakes of the future, we’re doomed to repeat them the first time :(” — Ken M, comedian.

[Editor’s Note: Today’s blog post is an excerpt from Mr. Robert J. Hranek’s short story entitled “Angry Engineer,” submitted to the 2019 Mad Scientist Science Fiction Writing Contest. The underlying premise of this contest was that, following months of strained relations and covert hostility with its neighbor Otso, Donovia launched offensive combat operations against Otso on 17 March 2030. Donovia is a wealthy nation that is a near-peer strategic competitor of the United States. The U.S. is a close ally of Otso and is compelled to intervene due to treaty obligations and historical ties. Among the many future innovations addressed in his short story, Mr. Hranek includes a “pre-mortem” in the form of two dozen lessons learned, identifying potential “mistakes of the future” regarding the Battle for Otso, so that we’re not “doomed to repeat them the first time!” Enjoy!]

The U.S. responded to Donovia’s invasion of Otso by initiating combat operations against the aggressors on 1 April 2030 — April Fools’ Day. Thousands of combatants died on both sides, mostly on ships; hundreds more were wounded, primarily from the land battle, and an unverifiable number of casualties occurred worldwide due to the sabotage of power grids and other infrastructure. An accurate civilian count was impossible in the chaos of reestablishing power, computer, and financial systems worldwide.

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