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Achieving a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons

A vision of a world without nuclear weapons is a vision of strengthened security – for all of us. To sustain our vision and build momentum behind it, concrete and implementable steps must be taken now, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said in his speech to the Conference on Disarmament, on 4 March 2008.


Statement by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre at the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, 4 March 2008

Mr. President,
 
It is a great pleasure for me to attend the Conference on Disarmament (CD) at this particular moment in time.
Allow me – since this is the first time I am present at the CD – to make a few comments on the context of our efforts to work towards the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.
Last week, in Oslo, we assembled about 100 participants from 29 different countries for a conference focusing on what it would take to revive that notion: what concrete steps can we take to reach our shared vision – in both the short and the long term?
The conference was a common undertaking by the Government of Norway, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, led by former US Senator Sam Nunn, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, led by Former US Secretary of State George Shultz – in cooperation with IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
We had two days of intense discussions – discussions that included both the idealists and the realists.
It struck me that new common ground is emerging that will enable us to address these critical issues – issues which continue to concern our very existence – but that nevertheless have glided down the scale in terms of international attention and resolve.
Perhaps new generations of political leadership gradually lost the focus on nuclear weapons and the threat of proliferation after the Cold War.
Perhaps issues such as the fight against poverty, climate change, global health and other key issues of globalisation have taken prominence.
Perhaps have we have lacked the imagination to frame the broad and shared security challenge that we all face in the presence of vast arsenals of nuclear weapons: the threat of proliferation and the risk of nuclear technology and material falling into the hands of criminals and terrorists.
My point is this: the paradigm of mutually assured destruction served as an easy way to grasp the concept of cold war. Today, that very concept has become obsolete in the face of a fragmented and complex nuclear threat scenario.
But still, we are far from agreeing on a new unifying concept that can help steer our action.
We have the treaties – and we need to respect them – but we also need to revise them.
However, we lack the mobilising roadmap that can marshal the political will and resolve needed.
As Secretary Shultz said in Oslo: this is, above all, a political and diplomatic endeavour.
I heard his message repeated in London last Sunday at a meeting of key decision makers from the US, Russian and European administrations during the last four decades who were gathered to discuss today’s challenges.
At this meeting, I also had the pleasure of meeting Minister of State Saudabayev, who is present here today. Kazakhstan has demonstrated that national security does not depend on the possession of nuclear weapons.
Both the Oslo and the London meeting revived the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
We should not expect short-term results. But remember that this vision led to a series of major breakthroughs in nuclear disarmament in Reykjavik in 1986, although the process came to a halt around year 2000.
A vision of a world without nuclear weapons is a vision of strengthened security – for all of us.
Look to Latin America: by declaring itself a nuclear-weapons free-zone, a whole continent has escaped the nuclear logic. The result for Latin American states was improved security and – equally important – states with scarce resources were able to give priority to extensive development agendas to the benefit of the people.
I believe this is our key challenge: to recreate the power of the vision of Reykjavik in a way that unites the realists and the idealists. To establish a roadmap that – relying on a representative consensus – identifies the concrete and implementable steps that we need to take.
So, let me share with you five key principles that emerged from our discussions at the Oslo Conference last week. I list them as Norway’s input to the work of the CD – to inspire our reflections on concrete steps that can help end the endless deadlocks that have plagued us for all too long.
Let us not be derailed by procedural issues. Let us put the substantive issues on the table.
First, achieving the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons requires committed leadership at the highest levels. Leaders must engage with key domestic stakeholders, including security establishments, the scientific community, and – in particular – the general public.
Second, to sustain our vision and build momentum behind it, concrete and implementable steps must be taken now. And they must be taken unilaterally. Negotiations aimed at deep cuts in nuclear arsenals must commence.
This means reducing the role of nuclear weapons in doctrines and their operational status. And this means fulfilling the promise of long-sought agreements like the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), and outstanding commitments made in 1995 and 2000.
To ensure necessary confidence in these and other steps, we must be willing to conclude binding agreements that include credible verification mechanisms.
Taking disarmament seriously also means taking regional conflicts seriously. International efforts should focus as much on regional conflicts that have not “gone critical”, as on those that have.    
Third, moving ahead requires consensus among all states – nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states alike. Article VI of the NPT places the obligation to bring about disarmament on all states.
No doubt, the states with the largest arsenals have a leadership role to play. But our vision will only be achievable if we are able to advance the agenda on non-proliferation and disarmament together, and if we work together on reliable verification mechanisms and collective security arrangements. If we draw on a sense of common purpose to achieve cooperation among armed forces, among scientists, among diplomats and among governments, the benefits could be felt in many other fields as well.   
Fourth, we should be faithful to the principle of non-discrimination. It is key to effective multilateralism. Nuclear weapons confront us with collective dangers.
We will be well served by non-discriminatory approaches to these dangers. We must confront proliferation with unity and resolve, wherever it occurs.
We must fashion disarmament agreements that include all states. We must recognise that fuel cycle assurances will succeed only if a non-discriminatory approach is taken, one that recognises the right of all states to peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and that is sensitive to the need of all states for energy security.
It is with in spirit we are promoting a fuel reserve under the aegis of the IAEA. This is one example of a concrete and implementable step that can build momentum for common resolve.
The IAEA estimates that USD 150 million will be needed to make such a reserve operational. USD 100 million has been obtained. Last week Norway pledged USD 5 million – 10% of the remaining USD 50 million. I urge other states to make their contributions.
Finally, transparency should be at the heart of our global efforts. Transparency is required of both nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.
While transparency is a vital starting point for many of the practical steps we need to take, it also is a means of building the vital elements of trust and confidence, without which our efforts to realise our vision cannot succeed.
Greater transparency does not necessarily require legal instruments, which could take months or even years to negotiate. It can be implemented by all states unilaterally starting today.
Mr President,
On the basis of these principles, the Chairman’s summary of the Oslo Conference made ten policy recommendations. Let me share the short version of them with you today:
National leaders in all states should engage personally, and they should seek to involve key domestic stakeholders – the general public in particular – at an early stage. The disarmament efforts of our times will be an inter-disciplinary endeavour, and national leaders should also seek to engage experts from all relevant areas including science, diplomacy, politics, law and the military.
The United States and Russia are encouraged to reduce the size of their arsenals significantly so that nuclear weapon numbers are measured in hundreds, not in thousands. This should be effected by means of a verifiable, legally binding treaty. It is also important to engage China and other states that possess nuclear weapons, in a strategic dialogue to develop a cooperative approach to nuclear security.
Non-nuclear-weapon states should cooperate with nuclear-weapon states to develop the technology needed for verifying disarmament. Nuclear-weapon states should seize the opportunity presented by reductions in nuclear weapon numbers to demonstrate this technology.
All states that possess nuclear weapons are encouraged to make every effort to reverse their reliance on these weapons as a contribution towards their elimination. They should also change the operational status of their nuclear weapons in order to increase decision time in the event that use is contemplated, and to take other steps to promote strategic stability.
Entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is crucial to prevent a new nuclear arms race. Until the treaty enters into force, the existing moratorium on nuclear testing should be strengthened. Each state that has tested nuclear weapons in the past should pledge that it will not be the first to restart testing. In addition, funding for the CTBT’s International Monitoring System must continue.
A Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) is vital in order to advance disarmament and prevent proliferation. In addition to starting negotiations on an FMCT, the international community should consider the creation of a voluntary Fissile Material Control Initiative to enhance the security and transparency of all nuclear material – including material that may not be subject to an FMCT.
Eliminating nuclear arms requires a robust and credible non-proliferation regime. All states that have not yet done so should adopt a Comprehensive Safeguard Agreement and an Additional Protocol. In addition they should sign, ratify and implement all relevant multilateral instruments to enhance the safety and security of their nuclear materials.
In order to help avert the terrible prospect of nuclear terrorism, all states that possess nuclear weapons are urged to take all necessary measures to ensure that their weapons do not fall into unauthorised hands.
We should aim to create a non-discriminatory system of nuclear fuel supply in close collaboration with the IAEA. In this regard, a serious and sustained dialogue between producer and consumer is needed so that consumers have an opportunity to explain their needs and suppliers have an opportunity to tailor arrangements and incentives accordingly.
And finally: We should consider establishing a broad-based high-level Intergovernmental Panel on Nuclear Disarmament, analogous to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to advise governments on the core requirements for abolishing nuclear weapons.
Mr President,
We all share the responsibility for keeping the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons alive. Norway will continue to work within all relevant multilateral forums to ensure that this vision is followed up with practical and concrete measures.
We will also continue to work on a bilateral basis.
Today, Norway and Russia cooperate on enhancing nuclear safety and security in northwestern Russia.
We will also continue our excellent cooperation with the UK on strengthening disarmament verification.
If we are to achieve results, we must be ready to work in innovative ways. We must involve all stakeholders, including civil society. The Oslo Conference last week was an example of such partnership.
We need more cross-regional cooperation. We will not obtain results unless we build bridges and do more to identify areas of common ground. That is one of the main purposes of the Seven-Nation Initiative.
 
Finally, Mr President,
Let me comment on another pressing issue – the common undertaking of creating a legal instrument to ban cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
Today, more than 25 states are affected by cluster munitions.
Wars and armed conflicts contaminate areas with all kinds of explosive remnants of war. But few of these remnants, if any, cause such extensive and unacceptable harm as cluster munitions – often for decades.
Most confirmed cluster munitions casualties are civilians. Millions of people are directly or indirectly affected by the use of cluster munitions.
The humanitarian and socio-economic harm caused by cluster munitions is a consequence of modern warfare: today’s wars are often fought in populated areas, in villages and on farmland.
We see this in Afghanistan, Iraq and in Lebanon. The use of cluster munitions and the large quantities of explosive remnants of war result in a high civilian casualty rate.
As with nuclear weapons, proliferation is an imminent danger.
Billions of sub-munitions are stockpiled. We must avoid a situation where old and outdated types of cluster munitions are transferred to other countries.
A new instrument on cluster munitions would, in my Government’s view, need to take the humanitarian consequences as a starting point and address ways of preventing new victims and providing assistance for victims of cluster munitions and their communities.
This is the rationale behind the Oslo Process. A ban on cluster munitions that have unacceptable humanitarian consequences is about fulfilling our humanitarian obligation to put a stop to the use of a weapon that severely harms civilians and impedes development.
The conference in Wellington last month gained broad support, both of countries affected by cluster munitions, and of countries that possess such weapons. Now we have a good starting point for the negotiations in Dublin in May.
Mr President,
What we have today is a window of opportunity that we cannot afford to miss. It is an opportunity to prevent a humanitarian crisis similar to the one caused by landmines in the 1980s and -90s.
Let us together seize this opportunity. Now.

 


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