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For a world without nuclear weapons or power-plants
Phasing out nuclear power is not enough
by Eva JOLY and Jean-Marie MATAGNE (*)

Published 9 June 2011

This article has been published on 8 June 2011 by "Ouest-France", the most important French diary.

After the Fukushima disaster - or rather, during the Fukushima disaster, since it will continue for a long time - there is much talk of "phasing out nuclear". This is good. But people are talking as if the only nuclear problem is nuclear power generation. The worst danger actually lies elsewhere and is an ongoing one: the danger of atomic weapons.

Our ruling elites forget or omit mention of this fundamental aspect of nuclearism: the Bomb. Yet the first "applications" of nuclear energy were those named "Trinity" (a plutonium bomb exploded on 13 July 1945 in the Alamogordo Desert, USA), "Little Boy" (a uranium bomb, 6 August 1945, Hiroshima), and "Fat Man" (plutonium, 9 August, Nagasaki). These were three tests, and two of them killed 300000 people with only 2 bombs! That programme was carried out like a huge scientific experiment.

Today’s bombs on average are 10 times as powerful. France’s bombs vary from 7 to 22 times the force of Hiroshima; and the lethal capacity of France’s arsenal, measured against Hiroshima, is one billion dead. This is what French strategists call our "strict sufficiency". Indeed it is small, being only 1.5% of the total power of the 23,000 nuclear bomb currently "in service" and threatening humankind... and 5000 of these are on alert, so that they could be launched at any moment, including by accident.

The human race is sitting on a powderkeg. We prefer not to think about it. But is ignoring risk the way to prevent an explosion?

The deaths attributable to Chernobyl are approaching the million mark, according to a study published by the Academy of Science in New York. Compare this with the death total of 59 officially accepted by the World Health Organisation - the WHO, which was sold out (we are not exagerating) to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a secret agreement that has been in force since 1959. As for the sick and dead of Fukushima, most of them are yet to come, and will appear not just in Japan but in Europe too.

There is a size difference in nuclear technology, however, between military and civil: the weapons kill on purpose, the power plants by accident. But that doesn’t stop nuclear weapons killing by accident. For example at the nuclear weapons plant in Chelyabinsk (USSR) during and since the explosion of September 1957 - its effects can still be felt. Or the Kursk tragedy of August 2000: 118 Russian submariners were drowned in their atomic coffin.

Towards a world without nuclear weapons

It is high time France’s political leaders understood what the US hawks of the Cold War, notably Henry Kissinger, have proclaimed since January 2007, and which persuaded President Obama: as long as the great powers retain nuclear weapons, thus flouting Article VI of the Non-Proliferation treaty (NPT), other countries will desire to obtain them. Nuclear war, which almost occurred in October 1962 (the Cuba Missiles Crisis) and between India and Pakistan in the spring of 2003 (the Kashmir crisis), will end up breaking out and will not stop politely at the borders of the first belligerent states.

Three facts are crucial. The UN’s International court of Justice, on 8 July 1996, gave a unanimous opinion that « there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and to conclude negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects, under strict and effective international control ». Secondly, the UN Security Council recognised and confirmed on 24 September 2009, with unanimity among the heads of state and government there sitting, this obligation to proceed towards "a world without nuclear weapons". Thirdly, France is violating international law by spending every year several billion euros to develop new nuclear weapons.

These facts are what has led us to put the following question to the President of the French Republic:

"Do you want France to propose to all nations that she renounce her nuclear strike force and dismantle its components, in the framework of nuclear, biological and chemical disarmament that is comprehensive, universal and controlled, and of a genuine system of international security ?".

We have asked him to put this question as a referendum question to the French people, who have never been consulted on the matter. If President Sarkozy doesn’t do it, his successor will have to. The candidates will have to commit to doing so. And the French people will at last have the chance to learn, debate and make an informed choice about the only way for France and humanity to survive: the abolition of nuclear weapons.

(*) Eva Joly, Member of the European Parliament, candidate in the elction primary for EELV “Europe Ecologie - les Verts” ( and Jean-Marie Matagne, President of Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (ACDN), Ex-candidate for the presidential election of 2002 (;

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