A relieved Norwegian NPT team outside the UN headquarters in New York on May 28. From left: Hanne Ulrichsen, Inga Marie Nyhamar, Ambassador Steffen Kongstad (head of delegation), Hilde Janne Skorpen and Knut Langeland. . 
Photo: Mission of Norway/Emma K Lydersen.A relieved Norwegian NPT team outside the UN headquarters in New York on May 28. From left: Hanne Ulrichsen, Inga Marie Nyhamar, Ambassador Steffen Kongstad (head of delegation), Hilde Janne Skorpen and Knut Langeland. . Photo: Mission of Norway/Emma K Lydersen

Norway welcomes agreement on disarmament

6/2/2010 // On May 28 in New York, agreement was reached between 189 countries on the way forward for disarmament efforts. This includes concrete steps to eliminate nuclear weapons, strengthen non-proliferation efforts and create a platform that respects the right of all countries to peaceful use of nuclear technology. Agreement was also reached on the first steps towards a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs welcomes this agreement.

“Norway welcomes the agreement on further disarmament efforts that has been reached by 189 countries. It demonstrates that the international community, within the framework of the UN, is able to cooperate on issues that are crucial for our common security,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre. 

The 189 countries that gathered in New York are parties to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). They meet every five years to review progress. The Review Conference in 2005 ended in fiasco. This time too, the negotiations were tough.

“It is extremely important that we have reached agreement now, for the credibility of the NPT was at stake."

“Norway would have liked to have seen an even more ambitious action plan for a world free of nuclear weapons and stronger non-proliferation measures. But the result we achieved is a good, firm departure point for our further efforts,” said Mr Støre. 

Nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East
One of the most important results from the conference is the agreement reached on concrete measures to achieve a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. 

“The fact that we agreed on the goal of a nuclear weapons free zone in the Middle East is an important signal on the part of the international community of the need for disarmament in the region. It is a strong message that there should be no nuclear weapons in the Middle East. 

“There is also agreement on the general need for disarmament. This has long been a contended issue, and could have prevented final agreement,” Mr Støre continued. 

Important role played by civil society
“I would also like to highlight the important role played by civil society organisations through their active participation both in the run-up to and during the Review Conference. This was an advantage for all parties that wanted to see a strong result,” Mr Støre said. 

Norway working actively for disarmament
Norway has strong focus on disarmament, which is a priority in the Government’s foreign policy. Global disarmament efforts have gained new momentum, for example with the leadership shown by President Barack Obama in this area, and US–Russian agreement on a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). Norway has also played an active role, for example in the negotiations on the conventions to ban mines (1997) and cluster weapons (2008). In addition, 60 countries recently signed up to the Oslo Commitments on Armed Violence.

During the Conference, Norway worked closely with the Filipino President to find common ground in a number of contested issues where there was strong disagreement.

“I would also like to express my great appreciation of the Norwegian diplomats, who, together with civil society and Norwegian centres of expertise, have developed significant knowledge of the disarmament field, and have played an important role in the complex final negotiations,” Mr Støre said.

See photos from the last day at the NPT Review Conference on Flickr.


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