x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

A common purpose to rid the world of nuclear weapons

A joint statement of foreign ministries, including the UAE, announce a common initiative to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and encouraged nuclear-armed states to disarm.

Two thirds of a century have passed since the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons remains. In fact, the nuclear arsenals held by the nuclear weapons states still have the capacity to destroy the world many times over.

Judged by declaratory statements, there has been progress in disarmament efforts in recent years. The commitment by President Obama in Prague two years ago to work towards a world without nuclear weapons gave humanity new hope. The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference agreed last year in New York a blueprint for progress. And the entry into force of a new strategic arms reduction treaty between the United States and Russia was an important step forward.

But further practical steps towards the world that President Obama foresaw in Prague remain elusive. Even by the incremental standards of multilateral diplomacy in other fields, progress on disarmament has been painfully slow.

That is why the countries that we represent have committed themselves to making tangible progress on the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.

Our platform is new. The meeting we recently held in Berlin was only our second. And now we have a name - the Non Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (the NPDI). Until our meeting in Germany, our officials were so focused on the worthy effort to find purchase on the disarmament agenda, they hadn't bothered to name it. So who are we, and what is this NPDI?

First and foremost, we are 10 countries with a deep commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament. We seek the total elimination of nuclear weapons from our world, recognising the catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from their use and the dangers associated with their further proliferation. We recognise, at the same time, the right of every country to have access to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, as well as the fact that this right entails responsibilities.

We come from all corners of the globe. We represent states that have civil nuclear industries, and those that do not. Among us are states in alliance relationships with the United States; others that are fiercely independent members of the Non-Aligned Movement; all with a long-standing record of commitment to regional and global disarmament efforts.

We aim to find ways to deliver on the objectives agreed by states at the NPT Review Conference last year.

We understand that, since the world's major powers are nuclear weapon states, the effort to reduce global stocks of nuclear weapons will need impetus from others. Hence we, as middle powers, have a special role in this effort.

We believe in practical, measurable progress - even though we know that such progress may prove painstaking and gradual.

At our meeting in Berlin, we resolved to focus on a handful of initial projects.

First, we want to secure greater transparency in the way the nuclear weapons states declare their disarmament efforts. Under the NPT, nuclear weapons states are required to eliminate all types of nuclear weapons. And they have agreed to report on their progress. Our view is that the form and content of this report is not just an issue for them to decide. We all have a stake in this. That is why - as our first initiative - we are developing a standard reporting form for the nuclear weapons states to complete. We will urge them to use this form, with particular reference to strategic and tactical nuclear weapons - we can only have confidence in their disarmament if it is irreversible and transparent.

Second, we have been waiting too long for a treaty to stop the growth in stocks of the material used to make nuclear weapons. Negotiations over this Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty in the UN Conference on Disarmament should have started long ago. Indeed, they were due to have started way back in 1996. It is unacceptable to us that, despite the overwhelming consensus of the international community, these negotiations have been blocked by a tiny minority. That is why we have agreed to make one final push to get the talks going in the Conference on Disarmament. If negotiations are not underway by September, at the time of the next UN General Assembly in New York, we will ask the General Assembly to find a new way to take the talks forward.

Third, we will do everything we can to secure the agreement of the last remaining states necessary to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force. Only nine further ratifications are necessary to make this treaty international law. Achieving this would strike a major blow against countries acquiring or improving nuclear weapons.

Fourth, as 10 states which have an Additional Protocol in force, we will seek to have as many other states as possible conclude an Additional Protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Additional Protocols are the current gold standard for facilitating IAEA access to states' nuclear programmes and for assessing their compliance with safeguards obligations.

Currently, 108 states have Additional Protocols in force and a further 28 have signed. Fifty-seven have not. We will use our combined diplomatic effort to increase the number of acceptances of the Additional Protocol, one by one.

We will also continue to work to strengthen the expanding global framework of nuclear-weapon-free zones, to make export controls more effective and to promote disarmament and non-proliferation education.

These aims represent a sincere effort to spur progress on the global disarmament and non-proliferation agenda. They may not be headline- grabbing, but they are practical and concrete. With effort on our part, and good will on the part of others, they can bring about steady, measurable progress - progress towards achieving the world without nuclear weapons that all humanity craves.


The writers include Kevin Rudd, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Australia; Alfredo Moreno Charme, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Chile; Guido Westerwelle, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federal Republic of Germany; Takeaki Matsumoto, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Japan; Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Minister for Foreign Affairs, the United Mexican States; Uri Rosenthal, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of the Netherlands; Radoslaw Sikorski, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Poland; Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Turkey; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister for Foreign Affairs, United Arab Emirates