Revive the Drive against Nuclear Weapons Now

28 Jun, 1998    ·   120

David Andrews & Lena Hjelm-Wallen, Foreign Ministers of Ireland and Sweden react to nuclear tests in the subcontinent (from the International Herald Tribune).

After a decade of great promise in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the spectre of nuclear weapons is again at the center of attention. The nuclear disarmament process now urgently needs a new and forceful impetus.



This is why we, together with the foreign ministers of Brazil , Egypt , Mexico , New Zealand , Slovenia and South Africa , have addressed ourselves in a joint ministerial declaration to the nuclear weapon states and to India , Israel and Pakistan . Our declaration urges them to make that commitment now.



India and Pakistan must immediately put an end to their test explosions, which run counter to the will of the international community as expressed by the 149 signatories of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. They must abandon their nuclear ambitions and accede unconditionally to this treaty and to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Likewise, Israel must relinquish its nuclear weapon capability and accede to the non-proliferation treaty.



We are deeply concerned at the persistent reluctance of the nuclear weapon states to approach their treaty obligations with an urgent commitment to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons.



Three endeavours must now be pursued simultaneously. First, there must be a strong rejection of all ambitions to give renewed political and military importance to nuclear weapons. Second, it is essential that the nuclear disarmament process continue with renewed purposefulness and that the non-proliferation regime be upheld. Third, political pressure must be applied to achieve the goal of a nuclear weapon-free world.



As long as those nations with the greatest military strength claim the right to nuclear weapons for their own security, there is a great risk that other states will also claim this right. The possibility of preventing proliferation in the long term is therefore closely connected with the five nuclear weapon states fulfilling their commitment to nuclear disarmament, and showing true political will to attain the goal of the total elimination of these weapons.



Measures are furthermore immediately required which would dramatically reduce the risk of accidental or unauthorized launches. The nuclear weapon states should therefore proceed to de-alerting their nuclear arsenals and separating the warheads from their delivery vehicles.



After the abolition of intermediate nuclear weapons a decade ago, it is time to eliminate tactical nuclear weapons. The conclusion of an agreement prohibiting the production of fissile material for weapons purposes would provide vital support both to disarmament and to prevention of the spread of nuclear weapons capability.



In addition, states party to the non-proliferation treaty have a legitimate right to legally binding assurances that, in the interim until the total elimination of nuclear weapons, they will not be victims of the use, or subject to the threat of the use, of nuclear weapons. Further nuclear weapon-free zones also have an important role to play in the process leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.



The Indian and Pakistani tests starkly demonstrate that nuclear weapons are not yet a closed chapter. Such folly, however, could provide an opportunity for a real awakening, if the international community as a whole were to unite in single-minded determination to relegate these weapons to the dustbin of history. We invite all states to join us in this endeavor.



An extract from The International Herald Tribune on 22 June 1998