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The Ukraine invasion has brought us closer to nuclear war than at any time since the 1980s

09 Mar 2023 5 minute read
Photo Jamie Christiani_Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Jill Evans, CND Cymru Chair

One year ago, just after Russia invaded Ukraine, a majority of members in the Senedd voted to support the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. This was a significant step for the parliament of one of the small nations which has never threatened or invaded anyone.

It is often said, but it is true that Wales has a tradition of peace. As we celebrate the centenary of the remarkable peace petition from the women of Wales to the women of the United States, we are reminded of Wales’s unique and considerable contribution to world peace.

The Treaty prohibits states from developing, testing, producing, using or threatening to use nuclear weapons or allowing another state’s nuclear weapons to be stationed or deployed on their territory. It bans states from assisting or encouraging anyone else to do so.

Over five hundred organisations, including CND Cymru, came together to campaign for this Treaty. People from all parts of the world working together, with hope in their hearts, to move towards a brighter and safer future.

Though a hundred and thirty countries voted for it in the United Nations in 2017, the UK and the other nuclear states refused to sign it.

As Chair of CND Cymru, I said at the time of the Treaty’s ratification in 2020 that “This is the most significant development in nuclear disarmament since the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996”. Now more than ever I am convinced that remains true.

Real danger

An open letter in support of the Treaty at the time, signed by several world leaders as well as the former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, stated: “The risk of a nuclear weapon detonation today – whether by accident, miscalculation or design – appears to be increasing, with the recent deployment of new types of nuclear weapons, the abandonment of longstanding arms control agreements, and the very real danger of cyber-attacks on nuclear infrastructure. Let us heed the warnings of scientists, doctors and other experts.

“We must not sleepwalk into a crisis of even greater proportions than the one we have experienced this year.”

This statement was made during the Covid-19 epidemic and prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is so much more relevant in the light of the war and the vulnerability of nuclear power stations in war zones, coupled with Russian threats to use nuclear weapons and the decision to withdraw from the 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).

This Treaty caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the US and Russia can deploy at 1,550.

In January 2023, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock to an unprecedented 90 seconds to midnight. We have never been closer to nuclear catastrophe.

“The Ukraine invasion has brought us closer to nuclear war than at any time since the 1980s. Putin has repeatedly broken the nuclear taboo. He is willing to threaten the use of nuclear weapons at every turn.

We can only hope that he is not serious, though that hope is faint indeed.

The purpose of the Doomsday Clock is not to create despair but to inspire action. World Leaders for far too long have ben complacent. With the climate crisis fast approaching, we should be focusing on working on viable, renewable solutions that do not condemn future generations to pick up the tab of our nuclear waste.

We must work in harmony with nature, not in opposition to it. The extractive industries upon which the nuclear system relies on moves the hand ever closer to midnight. The twilight is fast approaching, and we must stand against it.


The people of Wales have shown tremendous solidarity with the people of Ukraine. We have condemned the invasion and defended the right of Ukraine to decide its own future. We have watched with horror as nuclear power stations came close to disaster. This is on our doorstep. Every nuclear power station is a target: a potential nuclear bomb.

This does not even have to arise via violence. It can easily arise as a mistake – a single cog in the system malfunctioning.

As one delegate to the ICAN forum in Vienna in 2022 stated, change is certain. It may be unpredictable – we may not know what form it will take, but we know that change will happen. Across the world, people are clamouring for a change for the better. CND Cymru are proud to be a part of the coalition arguing, and campaigning, for that change. For a world powered by wind, wave, and sun. For a world where we do not have the power to destroy the planet or the people on it with the flick of a switch. For a world of peace.

Change is in our hands. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has the potential to change everything forever. I am proud that Wales is part of that change.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago

We are even closer to another Chernobyl…

GW Atkinson
GW Atkinson
1 year ago

If the Russians were going to use nuclear weapons, they would have done it by now, especially those small tactical ones. But ever since China and India told putin to shut up with the nuclear threats there hasn’t been a peep out of the facsist turd about them. They didn’t even use them in Afghanistan when their invasion failed. If the west allows Ukraine to fall to the Russians, then what happens when putin wants a piece of Poland or the Baltic States? Because him winning will galvanise other despotic nations into doing the same. EG China and Taiwan.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  GW Atkinson

I highly recommend that anyone interested in the historical background to the Russia / Ukraine / Poland relationship should look at the timeline at the front of Anna Reid’s book Borderland

Ivor Schilling
Ivor Schilling
1 year ago
Reply to  Mab Meirion

In the meantime, give us the gist!

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 year ago
Reply to  Ivor Schilling

Borderland-a journey through the history of Ukraine-Anna Reid. The updated 2015 edition is available via your local library. She describes how the tract of steppe known as Ukraine which translates as Borderland has changed hands over a period of a millennium between Mongols, Cossacks, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Russia, the Habsburg Empire and the Soviets. Zaporizhia which we know of as a nuclear site itself has a long history of self-government going back to the 16th century. And not to forget Mr John Hughes, ironmaster of Merthyr, who founded Hughesovka, later known as Donetsk and our own George Jones featured on… Read more »

Iago Prydderch
Iago Prydderch
1 year ago

“…it is true that Wales has a tradition of peace.”

Anyone who says this doesn’t know Welsh history!

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