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Ican, the latest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is wrong to think that the Italian MPs of the government majority had been committed to convince their Nato partners to give up nuclear weapons. The fact of the matter is that the commitments the Nato member states make are purely formal: it is the atomic bombs that form the basis for their security.

“Nato has traditionally been flexible for the wishes of its members, and open to opt-outs from specific policy areas, such as nuclear planning”: so declares an article that appeared on the Ican website [1]. Ican is an international coalition of non-governmental organizations which has quite deservedly been honoured with the Nobel Prize for Peace 2017.

This article would imply that Italy would have Nato’s permission to become a party to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. “More than 200 Members of Parliament from most Italian parties have signed the ICAN parliamentary pledge and thereby committed themselves “to work for the signature and ratification” of the nuclear ban by the Italian Government. The largest group of signatories comes from the main governing party, the Partito Democratico”.

Therefore it would be an Italy which – after violating the Non Proliferation Treaty by hosting US nuclear weapons and getting ready to use US nuclear weapons – is now, thanks to an initiative headed by Pd parliamentarians, ready to sign and ratify the UN treaty. This treaty at Paragraph 4, establishes:
“Each State Party that has any nuclear weapons in its territory, possessed or controlled by another State, shall ensure the prompt removal of such weapons.” [2]

It would then be an Italy that, thanks to a “flexible” Nato, removes from its own territory the US B 61 nuclear bombs and refuses to station on its territory the new B61-12. An Italy that inches further away from the group of countries that – establishes Nato – “provide air planes fitted out to transport nuclear bombs, over which the United States maintains its absolute control, and staff trained for this purpose”; an Italy that, remaining part of Nato, withdraws at the same time from the Nuclear Planning Group of member states chaired by the United States.

Furthermore, the article adds,
“Italy is willing to play a leading role within NATO in clarifying that there is no inherent contradiction between the North Atlantic Treaty and the prohibition of nuclear weapons / Italy is now well-positioned to advance the conversation on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons within the NATO alliance.”
It would thus be an Italy that, as well as bringing about its own nuclear disarmament, would promote Nato’s denuclearization. But Nato is an alliance that, in the strategy adopted unanimously (i.e. by Italy as well), considers “strategic nuclear forces, particularly those of the United States, the supreme guarantee of security”.

We are not questioning the good faith of those who published the article on the basis of the information obtained. However we say quite categorically that an Italy and Nato of this type do not exist. The battle that has to be faced to implement the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is a tough one. The obstacles placed in the way of fulfilling the treaty objectives are gigantic. Such objectives emanate from the powerful and pervasive interests of the military-industrial complex that stretches over the entire Nato area.

The Italian government, together with the other 28 states of the North Atlantic Council, has wholly rejected and attacked the UN treaty. For this reason, the PD Parliamentarians, that have signed the Ican commitment together with M5S MPs and others, should lead a political battle against their own government and their own party from the front line, against weaponizing (nuclear weapons as well) Nato once again. Who is available, demonstrate your desire to do it.

However that is not enough. “Disarmament is not a subject for those representing the works but it must become everyone’s business ”. So says Father Renato Sacco, the National Coordinator of Pax Christi Italia (il manifesto, 11 November). We need “a mobilization from the bottom, from civil society but also from the parishes and Catholic communities, to push the government to sign it”.
“Italy’s parliamentarians spearhead efforts to ratify ban treaty”, Ican, October 25, 2017.

Anoosha Boralessa
Il Manifesto (Italy)

[1] “Italy’s parliamentarians spearhead efforts to ratify ban treaty”, Ican, October 25, 2017.

[2] Translator’s note: official English translation of treaty.