Today, January 22, 2021, is the day that can go down in history as the turning point in liberating humanity from weapons that, for the first time, have the capacity to wipe the human species and virtually all other forms of life from the face of the earth. The UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) enters into force today. But it could also be the day on which a treaty destined, like the many previous ones, to remain a dead letter enters into force. The possibility of eliminating nuclear weapons depends on all of us.

What is Italy’s situation and what should we do to contribute to the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons? Italy, a formally non-nuclear country, has for decades conceded its own territory for the deployment of US nuclear weapons: currently B61 bombs, which will soon be replaced by the deadliest B61-12. It is also one of the countries that - according to the NATO document - "provide the Alliance with aircraft equipped to carry nuclear bombs, over which the United States retains absolute control, and with personnel trained for that purpose". Moreover, it is quite possible that the intermediate-range nuclear missiles (similar to the Euromissiles of the 1980s) that the United States is building after having withdrawn from the INF Treaty, which prohibited them, will be installed on our territory.

Italy is thus violating the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, ratified in 1975, which stipulates: "Each non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to accept any transfer whatsoever of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or of control over such weapons or explosive devices, directly or indirectly". At the same time, in 2017 Italy rejected the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons - supported by the 30 NATO countries and the 27 European Union countries - which states: "Each State Party which has nuclear weapons on its territory, owned, possessed or controlled by another State shall ensure the prompt withdrawal of such weapons at the earliest possible time".

Italy, following in the footsteps of the United States and NATO, opposed the Treaty as soon as negotiations were opened, as decided by the General Assembly in 2016. The United States and the two other NATO nuclear powers (France and Great Britain), the other Alliance countries and its main partners - Israel (the only nuclear power in the Middle East), Japan, Australia and Ukraine - voted against. The other nuclear powers also expressed a contrary opinion: Russia and China (which abstained), India, Pakistan and North Korea. Echoing Washington, the Gentiloni government had defined the future Treaty as "a highly divisive element that risks undermining our efforts towards nuclear disarmament".

The Italian Government and Parliament are therefore jointly responsible for the fact that the Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons - approved by a large majority by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017 and having entered into force after reaching 50 ratifications - has so far only been ratified in Europe by Austria, Ireland, the Holy See, Malta and San Marino: a meritorious but not sufficient act to give force to the Treaty.

In 2017, while Italy rejected the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, more than 240 Italian parliamentarians - mostly from the Pd and the M5S, with the current Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio at the forefront - solemnly undertook, by signing the Ican Appeal, to promote Italy’s accession to the UN Treaty. In three years they have not moved a finger in this direction. Whether behind demagogic postures or openly, the UN Treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is boycotted in parliament, with a few rare exceptions, by the entire political spectrum, which agrees to alienate Italy from the increasingly dangerous policy of NATO, officially known as the "Nuclear Alliance".

All this should be recalled today, in the Global Day of Action for the entry into force of the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, celebrated by Ican activists and other anti-nuclear movements with 160 events mostly in Europe and North America. The Day must be transformed into a permanent and growing mobilization of a broad front capable, in each country and at the international level, of imposing the political choices necessary to achieve the vital objective of the Treaty.

Roger Lagassé
Il Manifesto (Italy)