On the morning of 6th of August, 1945 the world changed forever. This was the moment that the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and the age of nuclear weapons began in earnest. For 65 years since then humanity has lived in the shadow of the bomb.
Stockpiles of these weapons began to grow – first with the US and Russia and the birth of the cold war and then, over time as other nations wanted in to the nuclear club.
In time an opposing movement sprung up – the disarmament movement. This movement was (and still is) characterised by direct action, protest and civil disobedience – a good example would be the cnd.
In recent years a new strand of that movement has arisen, the ‘nuclear zero’ movement. This strand of the movement is characterised more by intensive diplomacy and political influence – an example being Global Zero
Both of these movements are of course very much valid and very definitely necessary. It is also true to say that much has been achieved – the New START treaty between the US and Russia and US abandonment of a proposed missile defence system in Eastern Europe.
So what of Simpol in this scenario?
First of all it is important to note that Simpol is not intended to be a competitor to these organisations. In fact Simpol is intended to be entirely complementary to the aims of other NGOs.
What Simpol offers to the anti-nuclear community is a (global) political process to achieve their goals.
Nuclear weapons provide the clearest possible example of first mover disadvantage, where the risk is not to competitiveness, but to lives and indeed whole societies. Coupled with this is the fear that, however good the intentions of the nuclear powers, there will always be those rogue nations and/or terrorists that will seek to gain nuclear weapons and use them to wreak devastation or hold the world to ransom.
It is for this reason that only simultaneous implementation can ever result in true disarmament.
It is also true to say that current stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materiel are at serious risk of theft and proliferation in a growing worldwide black market. So holding on to these weapons actually risks creating exactly the situation intended to be avoided.
In this light it is imperative for standards to be set across the nuclear powers for limiting stockpiles and ensuring security of those stockpiles. However, it seems likely that nations will be reluctant to engage with this imperative unless such a policy is implemented simultaneously.
Simpol here offers both a mechanism (in terms of simultaneous implementation) and a means for citizens in each nation to keep up pressure on their governments to achieve this aim.
There is much that Simpol and the anti-nuclear weapons NGOs can offer one another and we must surely work together if we are ever to step out from under the shadow these weapons cast across our world.