The snapshot: a crowd in San Carlo Square in Turin, seized by a panic which had far-reaching consequences [1]. This photo symbolizes the situation we are in today, suffering from a psychosis induced by the fear of a terrorist attack, which been skilfully propagated by the political-media machinery. True, the psychosis is grounded in reality, but the true causes and objectives of terrorism are hidden from our eyes. The fear of a terrorist attack has allowed our basic survival instinct to burst forth in spasms. Yet it is interesting that a media-political black-out has anaesthetized this same instinct at a time when there was a rational basis for its expression: coming face to face with a phenomenon that endangers the survival of humanity in its entirety: the race to nuclear weapons. Their instincts dulled in this way, the overwhelming majority of Italians is unaware that the second phase of the negotiations for a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons is about to take place (15 June – 7 July) at the United Nations.

The draft Convention on Nuclear Weapons, drafted after the first negotiating phase in March, prohibits every State party from producing, possessing, transferring or receiving nuclear weapons, be it directly or indirectly. The decision to begin negotiations was taken by a General Assembly Resolution voted in December 2016 by 113 countries with 35 voting against and 13 abstentions. The United States and the other two Nato nuclear powers (France and Great Britain), the other Nato countries and its principal partners – Israel (the only nuclear power in the Middle East), Japan, Australia and Ukraine – have voted against it. Even the other nuclear powers have expressed an opinion contrary to it: Russia and China (both abstained), India, Pakistan and North Korea.

Among the countries that have voted against is Italy, at heel to the United States. The Gentiloni government declared, on 2 February, that “summoning a UN Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument on the prohibition of nuclear arms, is a strongly divisive step, that risks compromising our efforts in favour of nuclear disarmament”. The government’s position was that Italy is following “a gradual, realistic and concrete path that is able to lead to a process of irreversible nuclear disarmament, that is transparent and verifiable”, based on the “full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the cornerstone of disarmament”.

And so Italy is applying the NPT which it ratified in 1975. The facts demonstrate this. Despite the fact that this treaty binds states that are militarily non-nuclear “not to receive from anyone whosoever nuclear weapons, nor to control such arms, directly or indirectly”, Italy has allowed the United States to install nuclear arms on Italian soil. Thus the US has stocked at least 50 B-61 bombs at Aviano and 20 at Ghedi-Torre. In addition, Italian pilots have been trained to use them. Starting from 2020, the B61-12 will also be stored in Italy. This is a new weapon for a nuclear first strike. It is able to penetrate ground level to destroy the bunkers of the command centres. Come 2020, or perhaps even earlier, the B61-12 will be stored in Europe. Thus Italy, formally a non-nuclear country, will be transformed into the firing line for an even more dangerous nuclear confrontation between US/Nato and Russia.

What to do? We must require Italy to contribute to launching the UN Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons and to sign up to it. At the same time we must demand that the United States remove any nuclear arms it has from our territory and desist from installing the new bombs (the B61-12), using as a basis for our claim the Non-Proliferation Treaty that is in force. Yet for almost the entire “political world”, our appeal is a nonsense – on stilts as Bentham would have it. If political conscience is wanting, then we have no other option than to eject forth the juices of our basic survival instinct.

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)

[1Note : The incident took place on 3 June at Turin, when a false alarm provoked thousands of people, who gathered in the Square to watch a football match televised big screen, to flee for their lives. The toll: more than 1,500 injured, some of which, seriously.