Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Norway builds momentum for nuclear weapons abolition

An historic two-day conference titled Achieving the Vision of a World Free of Nuclear Weapons: International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament convened today in Oslo, Norway focused on “identifying strategies that promote sustainable solutions for disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.” The conference is hosted by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Hoover Institution and the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority. New papers on the prospects for and process toward nuclear disarmament by global thought leaders are available online. A broadcast email from the Nuclear Threat Initiative points out that:

“The meeting builds on a recent Hoover/NTI conference “Reykjavik Revisited: Steps Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons” and two articles — “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons” and “Toward a Nuclear Free World” — written by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn that were published in The Wall Street Journal. It also builds on activities undertaken by the Norwegian government, which leads the Seven-Nation Initiative on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, including Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Romania, South Africa and the U.K.”
Dr. Jeffrey Lewis is surfacing early news from the conference at http://www.armscontrolwonk.com/.

Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre opened the conference (quotes taken from his remarks as prepared for delivery) with a keynote address offering clear direction:

“I hope this gathering will add momentum to a new global effort towards fulfilling the vision of a world without nuclear weapons”
a spirit of inclusion:

“our vision must be a joint enterprise – among states, among scholars, among civil society actors, and among peoples…Achieving our vision will require a powerful coalition, and today we see its outlines. Coming together are realists who comprehend the power of idealism and idealists who understand the force of facts and realities.”
the perspective of history:

“A world free of nuclear weapons has been a longstanding aspiration of my country’s foreign policy, even during the Cold War. Indeed, it has been a core foreign policy priority for many nations for decades.”
awareness of the growing danger of recent years:

“The grim subtext has been a creeping abandonment of our vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Combined with the short-sighted assumption that, because we have been spared nuclear war to date, because no acts of nuclear terrorism have yet been perpetrated, the status quo is somehow secure. That, my friends, is our Achilles heel: the false assumption that status quo is less risky than change.”
and a sober eye to the difficult path forward:

“Let us be clear. Very few, if any, non-nuclear weapon states believe that full nuclear disarmament is possible, or even desirable, overnight. Realists and idealists can agree that nuclear weapon technology cannot be disinvented. International security as we know it is dependent on deterrence postures in which nuclear weapons maintain a pivotal role. But these postures are neither inevitable nor immutable.”

“We cannot consolidate and maintain the non-proliferation regime while neglecting the bold vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. We will delay and undermine nuclear disarmament unless we demand robust and credible non-proliferation. Abolitionists can be realists, and realists, abolitionists.”
So, the Spirit of Oslo emerges over the next two days, we hope that this fusion of perspectives will coalesce into a tangible, ongoing path forward that will include prompt achievement of prudent and verifiable steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons.

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