As was clearly demonstrated at the opening session, we are at a critical time for global disarmament and non-proliferation issues.
My Government ambitions in this respect are clear: To work for a world free of nuclear weapons.
And secondly: To promote further efforts of humanitarian disarmament, such as following up on the Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and increasing the efforts against armed violence.
In short: Promoting a comprehensive approach, acknowledging that disarmament and arms reduction are at the core of both security policy and development policy.
Since Hiroshima we have lived with the threat, the fear and at certain moments also the imminent possibility of nuclear war. Nuclear “Armageddon” is not some imaginary notion. The possibility is real because the arsenal is real; it is there.
During the Cold War, the disarmament community was often portrayed as idealistic and even naïve by the security policy establishment. Disarmament was seen – by some – as irreconcilable with state security. – And, as a consequence, as an attitude and act of irresponsibility.
This May we will pay particular attention to one of the most important milestones reached in that period – the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It is appropriate to recall the critical importance of this treaty, which entered into force in 1970 and still is – as you all know - the main multilateral framework for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.
Among the three pillars of the treaty – pillars of equal importance: i) non-proliferation, ii) disarmament and iii), the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy- , I think it is fair to say that for too long, the disarmament pillar of the Treaty was neglected.
Today, however, the tide may be changing. Multilateralism is regaining centre-stage. Respect for fundamental human rights and humanitarian principles are on the rise. And nuclear disarmament is again heading the global agenda.
We have an opportunity to restore the NPT compact. It is now more important than ever that this review conference really closes the current loopholes in the regime, and that it holds the state parties accountable to their obligations.
To succeed we must respect the comprehensiveness of the NPT agenda. We must accept the fact that the three pillars have equal weight that respect for one depends on respect for the other. Or to put it this way – the failure of the nuclear states to disarm directly impedes our collective ability to win respect for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons.
And the other way round – nuclear abolition simply cannot be achieved unless we tighten up the non-proliferation regime. Existing nuclear states will not give up their weapons unless there is a water-tight regime in place that ensures that other states are barred from gaining this capacity.
Furthermore, if there is no movement on key disarmament objectives, the NPT regime will suffer. Therefore, we urgently need a legally binding test ban. We must cap all production of fissile material for weapons purposes and deal with the vast existing stocks. We must put in place improved assurances for non-nuclear weapon states so that they will not be exposed to - or threatened with - nuclear devastation. We must accelerate the process of destroying weapons, which would be the best way to ensure that they do not end up in wrong hands.
We also need to consider the threat of nuclear terrorism. Therefore, last week’s summit in Washington was very timely and important.
By implementing and balancing both non-proliferation and nuclear security measures, all countries will be better positioned to take part in developing civilian nuclear cooperation. The same logic is being applied to the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.
There are signs that there is reason for optimism. We see a clear shift in international politics towards a substantial disarmament agenda, with public awareness and support for disarmament efforts on the rise.
Combined, these international developments could give new impetus to nuclear disarmament. Still, we know from past experience that positive momentum can be halted and even rolled back. To secure a sustained effort for nuclear disarmament, we need to do two things:
First, we need to reframe the nuclear issue to include all relevant aspects. We need to review our strategic, doctrinal approach to national and international security. And we need to make use of the conceptual insights gained through the humanitarian disarmament processes of recent years.
Second, we need to take a fresh look at how multilateral negotiations are being conducted, and in particular pay more attention to the increasing role of new and emerging powers on the global stage.
There are today important windows of opportunity for progress in global disarmament diplomacy. We encourage continued nuclear arms reduction talks between the US and Russia. We urge other nuclear weapons states to join these efforts. But this cannot be left to the few nuclear states alone; it is a matter for all of humanity. All states – nuclear and non-nuclear alike - have a responsibility to create the conditions for eliminating nuclear weapons, as we all have a stake in securing our planet for future generations.