A Global Effort to Achieve a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

3/3/2008 // The International Conference on Achieving the Vision of a World Free of Nuclear Weapons in Oslo. Concluding remarks by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, 27 February 2008.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the last two days, we have been privileged to have a fascinating and candid exchange of views on how to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.

I would like to thank all of you for your active engagement. I would also like to express my profound gratitude to my co-hosts, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority.

The personal involvement of Senator Nunn, Secretary Shultz and Director-General ElBaradei has also contributed, in no small measure, to the success of this conference.

Their collective ‘wake-up call’ is a sage and timely warning. I assure them and all of you that Norway, working independently and through the Seven Nation Initiative, will heed it.

Your discussion has focused on many of the most urgent challenges on the path to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. It also has yielded some valuable recommendations. 

My colleagues will shortly present a preliminary list of these recommendations, and I look forward to our discussion of these. Before that, I would like to offer my own reflections on some principles for progress in our global effort. They are in no way exhaustive, but I believe they are crucial.

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First, achieving the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons demands committed leadership at the highest levels.

Our discussion has made it clear that we have to re-think key elements of our international security architecture if nuclear weapons are to be abolished. In order to do this, national leaders must be personally committed to abolishing nuclear weapons.

To bring about the required change, leaders must engage with key domestic stakeholders, including security establishments, the scientific community, and – in particular – the general public.

Second, taking disarmament seriously requires that we begin taking concrete steps now to sustain our vision and build momentum behind it.

This means taking meaningful unilateral steps and commencing the negotiations required for achieving deep cuts in nuclear arsenals.

It means reducing the role of nuclear weapons in doctrines and in operational status.

It means fulfilling the promise of long-sought agreements like the CTBT and an FMCT, and outstanding commitments made in 1995 and 2000.

And to insure the 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 that have not ‘gone critical’, as much as they do on those that have.    

A third principle is also a remarkable opportunity. Achieving a world free of nuclear weapons must be a joint enterprise 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 leading role to play. But only by advancing non-proliferation and disarmament together, and by working together on reliable verification tools and collective security arrangements, will our vision be achievable.

If we draw on the common need to work together among militaries, among scientists, among diplomats and among governments, benefits could be felt in many other fields as well.  

Fourth, we should be faithful to a key principle of effective multilateralism, which is non-discrimination.

Our discussion has confirmed that, when it comes to nuclear weapons, we face 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 with a non-discriminatory approach that recognises the right of all states to peaceful use, and the need of all states for energy security.

And it is in this spirit that we approach the establishment of a fuel reserve under the aegis of the IAEA.

Finally, transparency should be at the heart of our global effort. 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 is also a means of building the vital elements of trust and confidence, without which our efforts to ‘get to 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.

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These are my personal reflections, but I believe that these five principles must inform our general and specific steps toward achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. To borrow Senator Nunn’s metaphor, these principles can be guideposts on our ascent to the mountain-top.   

Director-General Kaare Aas will now offer a preliminary account of some of the key recommendations which have emerged over the last two days. I look forward to our discussion, and to the closing remarks of Secretary Shultz and Senator Nunn.   


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