Statement by Ângelo Alves, member of the Political Committee of the PCP, Press Conference

About the current international situation

63 Years ago, on August 6 and 9, 1945, the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reduced to fire and dust. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by atomic weapons are a telling example of state terrorism carried out by the government and the armed forces of the United States of America and represent a crime against humanity. It is worth remembering that this crime did not imply any military strategy for the Allied victory in World War II. The surrender of Nazi Germany had already been signed and the military defeat of Japan was an acquired fact. However hard one tries to mitigate this truth by making changes in history, it is impossible to conceal that the decision to use the nuclear weapon against civilians essentially served to affirm the military power and destructive capacity of the USA and to signal a growing policy of confrontation with the Soviet Union.

We shall never know exactly the number of direct and indirect victims of this heinous crime, as well as never be able to put into words the true essence of the horror lived on the day of the bombings and on those that followed, as well as in the decades to come. In once again signalling these dark dates in world history, our aim is to pay a heartfelt homage to those thousands of men, women and children who perished under the atomic bomb and to those who, 63 years later, still suffer, directly or indirectly, the effects of radiations.

But paying homage is not enough. The best tribute to the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is the continuation and the strengthening of the fight against militarism, the arms escalade, the nuclear proliferation and the imperialist aggression and occupation.

According to UN figures, there are presently in the hands of eight countries more than 26000 nuclear warheads, each with a destructive capacity superior to those used in 1945. Out of these, 10200 are fully operational and the vast majority are held by NATO powers. Associated to this demolishing capacity, the adoption of new openly offensive strategic concepts – particularly by the US, NATO and several European powers – and in which the use of a nuclear weapon in a military attack is accepted, increases the worry on the possibility of the world once again witnessing a nuclear terror.

It may seem that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are mere horrors of the past. But when the international situation, marked by huge and growing inequalities and a profound international economic crisis, would suggest a stake on diplomacy, on cooperation, on a dialogue among nations in terms of mutual equality and a serious bet on disarmament, the peace rhetoric of the main military powers is denied by the profusion of military conflicts and wars of occupation and the permanent threats of new military interventions against countries and peoples.

The fact that the world’s military expenditure has increased around 45% since 1998 and the military budgets of the US and the main NATO countries have reached record figures – with a 2009 US budget forecast of around 711 thousand million dollars, the highest military budget of the US since the end of World War II – clearly shows the bet on militarism by the US and its closest allies and is at the root of a new world arms race, as witnessed by figures that point to increases in sales of around 8% in 2007 by the 100 largest arms manufacturing companies.

The international situation has been increasingly marked by constant trampling of international law, the subversion of the UN role, the tearing of international treaties, by heavy attacks on the sovereignty of the countries and a total disregard for the inalienable national and social rights of the workers and the peoples. There is great concern over the signs that point towards a solution for Iraq that may envisage a mitigation of the foreign occupation and a greater involvement by the UN and the European powers in a neo-colonial solution for this country; the agreement between North American and European political and military elites to intensify the war in Afghanistan; the convergence, expressed within NATO, between the European powers and the US, on the project of an antimissile system and a policy of increasing confrontation with Russia and China; the "return to Africa" of several military powers, notably the US, and the setting up of AFRICOM; the redeployment of the 4th. North American Fleet in Latin America in a policy of growing confrontation with countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba, and in general with the progressive revolutionary forces of this sub-continent. Signs and decisions which, seen as a whole, constitute a powerful incrimination of the US and its closest allies in NATO. NATO, which during its Riga meeting, in November 2006, consummated its change into a global organization of an offensive character, feeling "legitimated" to intervene in any part of the globe and under any excuse and prepared a new expansion which includes the western part of the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Ukraine

The European Union, notwithstanding the rejection by the Irish people of the Lisbon Treaty – with a marked military aspect which includes the adoption of the concept of "preventive war" as official EU policy – goes ahead with the creation of combat groups and prepares new naval teams of a so-called rapid intervention. Part of the militarist and securitary strategy of the world’s main imperialist powers is justified with a supposed combat against terrorism. But reality shows that this policy of militarism and even state terrorism, such as the striking case of Israel, feeds an explosive international situation, a perfect culture for the upsurge of terrorism.

It is in the name of this supposed combat against terrorism that our societies are increasingly pulled towards the banalization of violence and the restriction of freedoms. The shameless way in which several governments, including the Portuguese, close their eyes to the involvement of their countries in undisputable crimes, such as the illegal transport of prisoners, is an evidence of the present atmosphere of impunity displayed by the great powers , specially the US. A fact eloquently witnessed in yesterday’s news with the Pentagon feeling free to declare that most of the prisoners in Guantanamo will not be tried or released.

The nuclear aspect has occupied the attention of the international public opinion and the Media. Today we are expecting new developments on the so-called "Iran’s nuclear dossier" and in the past days there have been multiple statements of a "carrot and stick" political strategy by the US, Israel and several European powers in relation to this country.

On the issue of nuclear weapons, the PCP has a history of political stands that leave no doubts whatsoever. Since long ago we defend nuclear disarmament, while at the same time defending the inalienable right of every country and people to decide in a sovereign way its energy policy, including the right to produce nuclear energy. The arm-wrestling with Iran is a telling example of the hypocrisy with which the main imperialist powers and even the UN view the issue of militarism and specially the nuclear weapons. When Iran is threatened with wider economic sanctions and there is a greater danger of a military attack by the US or by Israel against Iran, it is worth remembering that those who hypocritically accuse this country of trying to produce a nuclear weapon, are the very same who keep intact their operational nuclear warheads. It is countries like Israel who act illegally and stay out of international treaties to arm themselves with nuclear arsenals and who, without any shame, publicly declare that they can use this same weapon. It is countries like the US, Great Britain or France who, under the guise of a formal reduction of their nuclear warheads, invest thousands of millions of dollars in keeping and technologically developing their nuclear arsenals and do not hesitate, like the US, to use forbidden weapons in the wars they wage.

The accusations that Iran is trying to gain access to a nuclear weapon have to be countered, in the name of truth. While Iran – a member of the non-proliferation Treaty – is subject to continuous and draconian demands for supervision of its civilian nuclear program, several countries like Israel, India and Pakistan – non-members of the NPT and holders of a nuclear arsenal – benefit from military support and supply of nuclear technology, as shown by the recent nuclear agreement between the US and India, severely criticized by the Indian communist and progressive forces and which led to a political crisis in that country. Those who today wave the Iranian nuclear danger to justify new manoeuvres of interference and to try to change the highly compromising situation of imperialism in the Middle East, are the same who, by installing the North American antimissile system, tear up the anti- ballistic missile Treaty (ABM), a touchstone of the strategic international military balance.

If the Bush Administration and its more direct allies wish to contribute to the peace in the Middle East and Central Asia and if they are really interested in the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, they have but one way. Stop injecting weapons in the Middle East; end the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; end the political and military support to the terrorism by the State of Israel against the Palestinian people and abandon the policy of threats and the shameless interference against sovereign countries like Lebanon and Syria.

The risk of new countries in the Middle East arming themselves with nuclear arsenal exists. But it exists because for decades foreign intervention and presence turned that area of the globe into the most violent on earth. To make the Middle East an area free from nuclear weapons, a proposal long defended by the progressive forces in the Middle East, there is but one way. To put pressure for a political negotiation, so that those who already have nuclear weapons will have to abandon them. This means, putting pressure on the nuclear power of the region – Israel – to disarm. All the rest are mere exercises on diplomatic and military tactics and hypocrisy.

The world became progressively aware of the lies that supported the war of occupation in Iraq. These lessons are a matter for reflection on what is taking place with the so-called "nuclear dossier" of Iran. It is the duty of all peace lovers to remove any danger of a new military conflict in the Middle East.

ith the so-called "nuclear dossier" of Iran. It is the duty of all peace lovers to remove any danger of a new military conflict in the Middle East.

This will be the best way to honour the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That is why, in signalling the 63 years of the nuclear crime, the PCP salutes those who in Portugal and around the world carry on the fight for peace, just and lasting, for development, for cooperation and social progress, against imperialism and its policy of war.

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