NATO statement decrying nuclear ban treaty full of errors

NATO-NAC Meeting imageOn Wednesday, November 22nd, Rideau Institute President and former Disarmament Ambassador Peggy Mason testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence during its deliberations on Canada’s involvement in NATO. The entirety of her written submission can be accessed by clicking here.

Part of her testimony focused in detail on the extraordinary statement issued in the name of NATO members, commenting negatively on the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) on the very day it opened for signature:

“The NATO statement contains multiple errors, misinterpretations of international law and just plain inanities, which would be bad enough if they were only being mouthed by nuclear weapons states but which are shockingly inappropriate for a non-nuclear weapons state …. like Canada, with a long and proud history of championing nuclear disarmament even in the darkest days of the Cold War.”

The most egregious assertion in the September 20th NATO statement is that the new Nuclear Ban Treaty “risks undermining the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT)”, which NATO correctly describes as “the heart of global non-proliferation and disarmament efforts for almost 50 years”.

Precisely the opposite is true. Those states who sought to abort the nuclear ban treaty negotiation and who are now futilely trying to prevent it coming into force are of course the ones who are undermining the NPT!

“Such a state of affairs is regrettably not that unusual when it comes to the western nuclear weapons states. What is truly unprecedented and unacceptable is that non-nuclear weapons states like Canada have joined in this calumny.”

The second blatantly inaccurate assertion is that the nuclear ban treaty “will not engage any state actually possessing nuclear weapons”.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As Mason explained:

“Article 6 of the Nuclear Prohibition Treaty lays out in detail two methods for nuclear weapons states to join the treaty – through a “destroy and join” methodology or a “join and destroy” process, with the IAEA as the appropriate international body to take control of all resulting fissile material from decommissioned nuclear warheads.”

One of the more hilarious parts of the statement – if the issue were not so deadly serious – is the assertion that the nuclear ban treaty “risks… creating divisions and divergences at a time when a unified approach to proliferation and security threats is required more than ever.”

The General Assembly vote launching the ban treaty negotiation (which was then boycotted by all NATO members except the Netherlands) was a vote of 130 in favour (including 3 brave NATO members – Albania, Estonia and Italy), 12 abstentions (including Netherlands, China, India and Pakistan) and 31 against (including Canada and the rest of NATO).

In other words, the MINORITY causing the disunity and lack of consensus is accusing the overwhelming majority of being the ones at fault.

Peggy Mason then went on to suggest that NATO members would be wise to read the 1996 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the illegality of the threat or use of nuclear weapons except in the very narrowest of circumstances where the “very survival of the state” might be at stake:

“The court ruled that in every other circumstance the use of nuclear weapons (and therefore the threat to so use them) would be manifestly illegal under international law because of the inability of the use of nuclear weapons to meet the fundamental requirements of international humanitarian law in terms of discrimination between military and civilian targets and proportionality as between the military objective and the collateral damage.”

Thus, the statement at the 2017 Halifax Security Forum by the Commander of the U.S. nuclear arsenal to the effect that he would never follow an order to use nuclear weapons that was illegal under international law was perhaps even more meaningful than he had intended.

So where does all this leave Canada?

“The answer is clear. It is our legal obligation under Article VI of the NPT to begin the process of signing and ratifying the Nuclear Ban Treaty by absenting ourselves from NATO’s nuclear doctrine[1] and beginning a dialogue with NATO with the aim of convincing other non-nuclear weapons states in NATO to similarly renounce NATO’s unnecessary, dangerously provocative and counterproductive nuclear posture.”

Without such action, NATO, the most powerful conventional military alliance on earth, is on the one hand proclaiming that it needs nuclear weapons for its own security while, on the other hand, telling North Korea, as that country faces off against the United States and its allies, that it does not.

Click here for the  full written presentation by Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason to the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence.


Photo credit: Wikimedia images.



[1] There is a long history in NATO of individual states absenting themselves from particular aspects of nuclear or other doctrine with which they disagree, and signalling their disagreement through a “footnote” in official communiqués. The most famous example is that of France absenting itself from the Nuclear Planning Group.

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17 Responses to “NATO statement decrying nuclear ban treaty full of errors”

  1. ArbyNovember 27, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

    “…the statement at the 2017 Halifax Security Forum by the Commander of the U.S. nuclear arsenal to the effect that he would never follow an order to use nuclear weapons that was illegal under international law was perhaps even more meaningful than he had intended.” Or perhaps it was ‘less’ meaningful than some suggest:

  2. ArbyNovember 27, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

    As for “the appropriate international body” called the IAEA:

  3. Bonnie DenhaanNovember 25, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    NATO has developed into a pretty serious danger to any kind of peace, in my view. Canada must reconsider its position on nuclear accumulation and threats. We have a global responsibility to back our Peacekeeping position all the way, and consider the future of our coming generations. The world is precarious enough without this ongoing (decades long!) nuclear threat hanging over it.

  4. Stan StaintonNovember 25, 2017 at 12:37 pm #

    I just feel helpless in the face of this situation & Canada’s part in it.

  5. Richard BernierNovember 25, 2017 at 9:17 am #

    NATO is just a huge war machine only trying to protect itself and not the freedom and the people it is supposed to serve. It is a scam pushing the world towards the brink of a nuclear massacre. Will the people wake up in time and ask for the dismantling of this monster feeding mostly on exaggerated fears and engulfing outrageous amounts of money which could make the world a better and safer place for all?

    • ArbyNovember 27, 2017 at 4:09 pm #

      Correct. I am building a couple of compendiums (which is hard to do when you work full time already), including one about the terrorists John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy. The other one is about the racket known as NATO (

  6. DemetriosNovember 25, 2017 at 12:43 am #

    It should be evident by now that NATO is just an (other) instrument of global manipulation. Any pretense or threat of the use of nuclear weapons is incredibly short-sighted and dangerous. It is crucial that we maintain communication and dialogue with our government to act responsibly in this most volatile stage of world dynamic.

    Thank you Peggy for your determination and perseverance. Whatever can be done must be done in order keep this madness in check..

  7. Byron BonaNovember 25, 2017 at 12:23 am #

    The Federal Liberals are nuking their legacy and political capital. So much for our Peace Keeping status.

  8. Caroline MaloneyNovember 24, 2017 at 10:03 pm #

    I can hardly believe (or wrap my head around) this insanity! Thank you Peggy Mason for being the clear voice of reason on this issue! Indeed, Canada must say NO to any nuclear weapons!

  9. Rolf LothNovember 24, 2017 at 8:30 pm #

    It is unquestionably clear that the Deep State of the US and its vassals are aiming at a Armageddon with Russia. The same ilk in power for the last 100 years that started the two World Wars and pushed Hitler into lighting the fuse, they are trying it again with Russia, Korea and Iran. They are to stupid and naïve to believe that their use of Nuclear weapons would guarantee victory. Instead, the world would then experience a real Holocaust instead of a mythical one.

    • DemetriosNovember 25, 2017 at 12:52 am #

      Rolf, your implication that today’s world is in a more precarious state than at any other time in history is a right one.

  10. Allan HansenNovember 24, 2017 at 8:04 pm #

    The Rideau Institute needs to begin to make as much noise as the right wing in Alberta(Jason Kenny). Albertans for one seem to respond to that.

  11. Daphne M. TaylorNovember 24, 2017 at 7:53 pm #

    I agree that Canada can continue to be a peace-keeping nation, under the United Nations, but NOT part of NATO if it means codoning the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons. Instead, our Canadian Government should ratify the U.N. Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons.
    the thought that we as a nation would ever agree to the use of even ONE of these horrendous weapons makes mewant to “throw up”. Let us make our position of NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS clear….

    • ArbyNovember 27, 2017 at 4:17 pm #

      Canada isn’t nor has it ever been a “peacekeeping” country. That’s mythology and propaganda. There’s any number of books that will report the history of Canada that reveals that fact. Todd Gordon’s “Imperialist Canada” is excellent. Any of Yves Engler’s books will tell you the truth about that, including “Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping – The Truth May Hurt.” (There’s also one about Canada in Haiti, co-written with Anthony Fenton. There’s “Canada in Africa – 300 Years Of Aid And Exploitation,” which I’m reading right now.) Peacekeeping? Try getting the government to pass a law making Canadian mining companies (who are second in size on the global scene in the world) accountable for the (many and serious) crimes they commit in foreign countries.

      • Barbara BambigerNovember 27, 2017 at 9:13 pm #

        Thank you Arby for all your interesting comments. Yes, Canadians who are serious about peace & humanitarian issues MUST face the mythology & propaganda about our rôle, past & present, as” peacekeepers.” And the terrorizing of vulnerable people (e.g. indigenous Guatemalans) by our mining countries is an ugly picture, indeed, but must be faced-down & changed.


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