June 9, 2011: Nuclear Weapon States Must Reduce Reliance, Say Global Parliamentarians
(New York, NY) - Parliamentarians from around the world appealed to the leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States to use the forthcoming Summit on Nuclear Security in Paris to reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons and make concrete steps toward fulfilling the vision of a nuclear weapons free world.
In a joint letter to the leaders of the five nuclear weapon States (NWS), the seven Co-Presidents of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament today commended the heads of government for convening such a meeting and noted that ‘there is a global expectation that the consultations you are commencing will result in significant advances in reducing the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and in making progress towards the achievement of nuclear disarmament.’
The letter calls on the summit to implement key agreements made by the NWS at the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons they hold and deploy, lower the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, and begin building the framework for a nuclear-weapons-free world.
Congressman Edward J. Markey (United States) welcomed the vision for a nuclear-weapons-free world put forward by President Obama in Prague in 2009, and the steps to reduce nuclear stockpiles in conjunction with Russia. “We have taken important recent steps, but more must be done to take these weapons off of their nuclear hair trigger, which currently could result in a decision to fire and launch nuclear weapons within 10-15 minutes,” said Rep. Markey. “The five nuclear weapon States also should shift their security spending from the maintenance and modernization of nuclear weapons towards building the multilateral framework for their elimination – including continued development of verification and compliance mechanisms to support a cessation of testing, development, production and deployment of nuclear weapons and fissile materials.”
Sergey Kolesnikov (Russia) welcomed the initial progress made by Russia and the United States in the New START Treaty and supported the current US/Russian negotiations on further reductions . “However, Russia feels very nervous - surrounded by States possessing nuclear weapons, many also with strong conventional forces and now developing missile defence systems which could be used offensively,” he said. “Thus, engagement of the other nuclear weapon States in stockpile reductions, lowering the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, and building cooperative security mechanisms to replace the threat of force, will be important to enable Russia to agree to deep cuts in nuclear arsenals.”
Uta Zapf (Germany) recalled the commitment made by the five NWS to reduce all types of nuclear weapons – including tactical weapons. “The Summit should pay attention to the strong desire of European countries – including NATO members – to relinquish the tactical weapons deployed in Europe – a hold-over from the Cold War,” she said. “The German parliament has also called upon our government to join the nuclear weapon States and other countries in building the framework to achieve a nuclear weapons free world – including the possibility of starting negotiations on a global treaty.”
Baroness Sue Miller (UK) welcomed the fact that the NWS had agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference that “All States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons” and had noted in this context the UN Secretary-General’s proposal for negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or framework of agreements. “The 155 parliaments that are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union – including the UK, French, Chinese and Russian parliaments - have given their support to this proposal and pledged to work with governments to make it happen,” said Baroness Miller. “We would hope that the P5 Summit would explore ways to start the negotiations – or at least commence preparatory work on the technical, institutional, legal and political elements required to achieve a nuclear-weapons-free world.”
Raphael Chegeni (Tanzania) noted that African countries had already rejected nuclear weapons and established an African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone. “However, nuclear weapons anywhere threaten the lives of current and future generations everywhere,” he said. “And the human and financial resources invested in this extreme form of militarism, are detrimental to the cooperation and resource allocation required to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals.”
The P5 Summit is scheduled to take place in Paris from June 29-30.