German Physical Society demands nuclear disarmament

Friday, April 9, 2010

The German Physical Society, founded in Magnus-Haus, Berlin Mitte 1845.
Image: Wikimedia contributor Beek100.

A German newspaper has recently reported on a declaration of the German Physical Society advocating to start negotiations on a Nuclear weapons convention for the elimination of all nuclear weapons before the year 2020.

Encompassing more than 58,000 members and all German laureates of the physics Nobel prize of the recent years, the German Physical Society or Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG) represents the largest professional organization of physicists worldwide. Its recent statement advances the forthcoming review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to be held in New York next month. The declaration points out: "Indeed, it is with a certain sense of relief we can state that since the mid-1980s, a large proportion of the more than 70,000 nuclear weapons have been reduced. Yet today’s deployed nuclear weapons are still sufficient to extinguish modern civilization. In addition, nothing has changed about the fundamental inhumanity of nuclear armaments, because their use would affect military targets as well as civilian populations indiscriminately, and thus would be generally contrary to existing international humanitarian law, based on the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice."

The physicists are particularly concerned about the proliferation of nuclear weapons, expecting "that a regional use of nuclear weapons could become more likely if more states or even terror groups obtain access to weapons-grade fissile material". Having a closer look to the continued work of weapon laboratories of the nuclear powers, they state: "We cannot accept that nuclear weapons continue to be developed today." Strengthening the non-proliferation requires the "nuclear powers to meet their responsibility for complete implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty", who pledged in its Article VI "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament".

The DPG addresses in its statement the perspective of a nuclear weapon free world as outlined by US president Barack Obama in his Prague's speech last year and that has been supported by Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev. Probably, the chances for the physicists have never been better before to achieve a complete abolition of nuclear weapons as it has been negotiated upon in the case of biological und chemical weapons. The continued development of such weapons of mass destruction appears to DPG and its members as "inconsistent with the ethical principles to which we as scientists are committed."