To commemorate the Lomo LC-A’s 25th Anniversary and to protest against the production of nuclear weapons, we have come up with the Lomo LC-A+ No Nukes edition, a limited edition camera designed by the Lomography Embassy in South Korea.
Why is the movement against nuclear weapons proliferations as relevant as ever?
KATE HUDSON: Over the past few years there has been an increase in new countries getting nuclear weapons and along with that the fear that nuclear material may fall into the hands of terrorist groups etc. For the past forty years the Non-Nuclear Proliferation Treaty has set the boundaries for international behaviour. The treaty is two-fold, in that those countries that had nuclear weapons agreed to disarm and those which didn’t have any agreed not to develop them. This deal has been steadily breaking down, largely because those countries that promised to disarm haven’t kept their side of the bargain. Until now, they also haven’t done much towards disarmament. However, there has been progress made for a new orientation lately because in May 2009 President Obama declared his dedication to the obliteration of nuclear weapons and revealed the ultimate goal for complete disarmament.
The US and Russia have revealed plans to disarm up to a third of their nuclear arsenal. How important is this move?
KH: Although the extent of the disarmament is relatively modest, it’s a very good first step for various reasons. President Obama has recognised total disarmament as the ultimate goal. Again, in recent talks, both President Medvedev and President Obama embraced this as the goal to work towards. Additionally, both states agreed to the disarmament of warheads and their strategic delivery systems – i.e. ballistic missiles, submarine-launched missiles and heavy bombers. This is very positive. Also President Obama has said he wants the US to ratify a comprehensive test ban treaty. The hope being that if these two big global players indicate their serious intentions, other nuclear states will also be encouraged to get involved.
What does disarmament involve?
KH: With a warhead, it basically involves taking it apart and removing the detonator. Thus making the radioactive element non-explosive. Then comes the task of safely storing this radioactive material in a place where it will not leak and cause harm. Of course, there is always the discussion “where do you keep such material for thousands of years until it’s no longer dangerous?”
KH: The threat of ‘loose nukes’ is often raised – i.e. warheads falling into the ‘wrong hands’, terrorists and so on, and the dangers surrounding that. However, what concerns CND most are the changing policies of the nuclear states and the fact that some are, in fact, developing and modernising their existing arsenals. For example, a policy review under the Bush administration spoke of a usable arsenal – so not just for deterrent – but as a way to deal with the Taliban. The British government have also stated they are willing to use nuclear weapons against countries that don’t have nukes, which is plainly outside the deterrent justification. They also are planning to spend £76 billion in total on replacing the existing Trident programme, when there is clear evidence that British troops in real combat situations are not being given the protection they should have. It’s actually quite a logical conclusion that the biggest threat comes from the powers that already have a nuclear arsenal. History shows us that the only time nuclear weapons have been used in war was by the US against Japan: a country that had no nuclear capabilities and was on the verge of surrender.
What would you say to those who believe nuclear weapons act as an important deterrent?
KH: There are 9 countries, we know of, that have nuclear capabilities and over 180 that don’t have them. The question is, are these countries less at risk because they don’t have nuclear weapons? Well, actually half of the world is covered by nuclear weapon-free zones. These countries chose to make this commitment because they feel safer without them. South Africa was a nuclear power but chose to completely disarm. When Kofi Annan was Secretary General of the UN he said if some countries determine that they need nuclear arms as a matter of security, then of course other countries come to the same conclusion. Therefore, if certain countries need them for security the logical conclusion is that every country needs them. That’s nonsense because if everyone has them, then somewhere along the line they will eventually use them. And the military security argument becomes questionable when you look at the example of the Vietnam War. Despite their superior military capabilities, the US were defeated by the Vietcong who carried out many of their military operations on bicycle.
There are only 9 countries that possess and test nuclear weapons – why is it an issue for all the other non-nuclear countries?
KH: The fact is you cannot confine or restrain the impact of nuclear radiation. Scientists have found that even a small-scale nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, which is not out of the realms of possibility, could have devastating effects on crops far, far away. It would cause crops to fail in vast areas of the world with knock-on mass starvation, in addition to health problems like cancer and birth defects. Over twenty years after the Chernobyl nuclear plant catastrophe in the former Soviet Union, there are areas in Wales where the lambs cannot be sold for consumption.
KH: Many countries have their own national campaigns that people can join, they can write into newspapers, lobby to their local politicians. There are also wider international campaigns that are all doing great work. A relatively new organisation called the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was founded by doctors worldwide. They are campaigning for proper policies, verification and transparency to ensure that nations can’t lie about their nuclear capabilities or intentions.
People can be so creative. For example, recently 70% of the Czech population voted against the government’s proposal to host a US missile defence system in their country. The proposed radar base would intercept missiles and shoot them down, thus preventing them from reaching the US. This would put the Czech Republic directly on the frontline of a nuclear conflict. There were village referendums, the League of Czech Mayors got together and there was also a chain hunger strike. In fact, the widespread public mobilisation against this proposal actually contributed greatly to the fall of the Czech government. It shows that when local people get together they can achieve amazing things!
In the end whatever people choose to do, every little bit helps. No one needs to feel powerless because, no matter how small your contribution seems, you’ll be adding your voice.