Arab Queen Against Nuclear Folly


Nuclear Abolition News | IDN


By Baher Kamal
IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis


MADRID (IDN) - "The sheer folly of trying to defend a nation by destroying all life on the planet must be apparent to anyone capable of rational thought. Nuclear capability must be reduced to zero, globally, permanently. There is no other option."


This impassioned plea by Queen Noor of Jordan, who is actively campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons, de-mystifies the realm of pseudo reasoning that has survived post-Cold War decades. It offers a common sense logic why weapons that destroy all life must be banned.

Queen Noor is one of only three Arab personalities among 100 international outstanding figures who joined a worldwide campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons, known as Global Zero, for a World Without Nuclear Weapons.

Beside the Queen of Jordan, who was born Lisa Najeeb Halaby to an Arab-American family, the other two Arab personalities who joined the Global Zero initiative are Amre Mousa, secretary general of the League of Arab States, and Lakhdar Brahimi, former Algerian Foreign minister and United Nations (UN) Special Envoy.

Too few indeed, and only one of them, Amre Mousa, holds an official position.

This yet another ‘absence’ from major platforms which could not impact more directly the present and future of the Arab countries, acquires even greater significance in view of their geographical position between a nuclear Israel, reported to have up to 200 nuclear weapons, and a 'might-be' nuclear Iran.

The Arabs have not taken any strong collective position in the face of the major nuclear threats surrounding them, other than complaining and expressing fear and indignation.

Even the U.S. administration has been firmer.

Addressing an early May conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in New York, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller indicated that President Barack Obama’s objective of working for a world without nuclear weapons, would not exclude Israel.

"Universal adherence to the NPT itself, including by India, ISRAEL, Pakistan and North Korea ... remains a fundamental objective of the United States," Gottemoeller said.

That said, the Queen of Jordan has been so far the loudest Arab voice in this regard. She often talks to the media, including the Qatar-based Al Jazeera, which is the major source of information for over 330 million Arabs, as well as Western news sources like the New York based Parade magazine, with a circulation of up to 33 million copies.

In all her interventions and interviews, like the recent one with Parade, Queen Noor reminds that Russia and the U.S. have 96 percent of these weapons, adding up to some 26,000. "We want to reduce that to 1000 and then get all nations with nuclear weapons to join in phased and verified reductions to zero," she said.

She also reiterates over and again her conviction that "the presence of nuclear arsenals drives more proliferation and insecurity. If you want to enhance stability in the Middle East, both Iran and Israel need to be at zero".


It’s precisely with this objective in mind, that this new international initiative was launched in Paris on December 8-9, 2008 by 100 political, military, business, faith and civic leaders from across political lines

Their stated purpose is to support the two major nuclear powers in their declared intention to achieve a comprehensive agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide through phased and verified reductions.

According to its promoters, Global Zero is developing a step-by-step policy plan for the phased elimination of nuclear weapons, and is committed to building broad-based public support through worldwide media and online communications and civil society organisations.

Moreover, the initiative’s signatories have announced that they would convene a Global Zero World Summit bringing together hundreds of leaders in early 2010.

Their hopes are based on the results of their recently commissioned poll of 21 countries that shows an "overwhelming worldwide public support for an international agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons" as well as the fact that thousands of people in over 85 countries decided to immediately support the campaign.


The promoters of the Global Zero campaign, as well as of other major world initiatives like the one launched by the Tokyo-based Soka Gakkai International (SGI), a Buddhist association with over 12 million members in 192 countries, are convinced that the goal of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons can be reached.

In a recent interview with IPS UN Bureau Chief Thalif Deen, the SGI's executive director of the office of peace affairs in Tokyo, Hirotsugu Terasaki, gave a clear indication of hope.

"There are numerous examples of goals being achieved that at first seemed utterly impossible. We can go back as far as the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century," Terasaki said.

"In the 1990s, we saw the signing of the treaty banning landmines and, more recently, the Oslo Process that resulted in the treaty banning cluster munitions," he added.

"Each of these was at first dismissed as an unrealistic ideal, but in the end they were all accomplished," Terasaki concluded while expressing confidence "that we can also achieve the outlawing of nuclear weapons".

Earlier in an interview with InDepthNews.Net, Terasaki stressed the civil society's role, which he said was "crucial".

"We sense a surge in momentum toward abolition of nuclear weapons. However, this surge is still not significant enough. What is critical right now is to heighten and reinforce this momentum. Vital to that end, together with the political process and technical discussions among experts, is the mobilization of the public opinion of civil society to push that momentum forward." – 29.05.09

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