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Disarmament Diplomacy No. 87, Cover design by Calvert's Press, Photo by Rebecca JohnsonDisarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 87, Spring 2008

In the News

Oslo Conference on Achieving the Vision of a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

Jonas Gahr Støre, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Statement to the Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, March 4, 2008 (excerpts)

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 my first presence 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 a conference of about 100 participants from 29 different countries, focusing on what it would take to revive that very notion: what concrete steps are attainable to reach our shared vision - both in short and in long terms?

The meeting 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 - as well as with the participation of IAEA Director General Mohamed El Baradei.

We had two days of intense discussions - discussions that included both the idealists and the realists. It struck me, that a new common ground is emerging to address these critical issues - issues which continue to concern our very existence - but have glided, however, down the scale of international attention and resolve.

Perhaps new generations of political leadership gradually dropped the focus on nuclear weapons and the threat from 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 been lacking imagination to frame the broad and shared security challenge, that we all face in the presence of abundant nuclear weapons: the threat from proliferation, and the scenario of nuclear technology and material falling into the hands of criminals and terrorists.

My point is this: that the paradigm of Mutually Assured Destruction served as an easy way to grasp concept of the cold war. Today, that very concept is gradually becoming 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 - and we need to revise them.

But 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.

His message was repeated when I attended a session of elderly statesmen in London last Sunday - a meeting of key decision makers from the US, Russian and European administrations during the last four decades where gathered to discuss today's challenges. At this meeting, I also had the pleasure to meet with Minister of State Mr Saudabayey, who is present here today. Kazakhstan has demonstrated that national security does not depend on the possession of nuclear weapons.

Emerging with renewed vigour out of both the Oslo and the London meetings was the vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

We should not expect short term results. But remember how it took this vision at Reykjavik in 1986 to launch a series of major breakthroughs in nuclear disarmament until 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 Latin America a nuclear weapons free zone, a whole continent escaped the nuclear logic. The result for Latin American states was improved security and - equally important - states with scarce resources where able to give priority to large development agendas in benefit of the public.

So, 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 must take.

So, let me share with you five key principles emerging 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 commands 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 required for deep cuts in nuclear arsenals must commence.

This means reducing the role of nuclear weapons in doctrines and in operational status. And this means fulfilling the promise of long-sought agreements like the CTBT and an FMCT, and outstanding commitments made in 1995 and 2000.

To ensure necessary confidence in these and other steps, we must be willing to undertake binding agreements with credible verification.

Taking disarmament seriously also means taking regional conflicts seriously. International efforts should focus as much on regional conflicts which have not "gone critical", as much as they do with 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, 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 tools and collective security arrangements. If we draw on common purpose to work together among militaries, 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 face 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 recognize that fuel cycle assurances will succeed only with a non-discriminatory approach, that recognizes the right of all states to peaceful uses, and that is sensitive to the need of all states for energy security.

It is with this spirit that we approach a fuel reserve under the aegis of the IAEA. This is one example of concrete and implementable steps that can build momentum for common resolve.

The IAEA considers that 150 million dollars will be needed to make such a reserve operational. 100 million dollars have been obtained. Last week Norway pledged five million dollars - 10% of the remaining fifty. I urge other states to make their contribution.

Finally, transparency should be at the heart of our global efforts. It is required from both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states.

While it is a vital starting point for many of the practical steps we must take, it also is a means of building the vital elements of trust and confidence, without which our efforts to reach zero cannot succeed.

Greater transparency does not necessarily require legal instruments that can 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 - their populations 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 by the hundred, and not by the thousand. This should be affected by means of a verified, legally-binding treaty. It is also important to engage China, and eventually other states that possess nuclear weapons, in a strategic dialogue to develop a cooperative approach to nuclear security.
  • Non-nuclear weapon states should co-operate 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 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 FCMT.
  • 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 awful 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 unauthorized 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 convening a broadly-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 of 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 cooperates in enhancing nuclear safety and security in north-western 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 indeed 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.....

Full text available at www.reachingcriticalwill.org/ political/cd/speeches08/1session/Mar4Norway.pdf

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