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Uta Zapf, MdB, address to the PNND-FES panel, "NATO and the Future Role of Nuclear Weapons"

May 25, 2008

Dear friends, colleagues from the NATO PA,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to welcome you to this discussion today organized by PNND and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. Let me especially thank FES for the logistical and financial support they gave to us in order to make this event possible. Thanks to the Deutsche Bundestag that provided the room for the conference. And a special thanks to our panellists Hans Kristensen, Martin Butcher and Pol DHuyvetter (Döiwettr) and to our chair of the discussion, Ana Gomes from the European Parliament.

PNND is an expanding world-wide network, that  – with the support of the Middle Powers Initiative and the Global Security Institute – connects parliamentarians concerned with nuclear disarmament. I welcome Alyn Ware who is busily connecting the threads of the net around the globe.

I am a member of the Deutsche Bundestag and the chair of the Subcommittee on Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation. And I am one of the five Co-Presidents of PNND. We are all females. So it seems appropriate to me that this event takes place on the day right after yesterday’s International Women’s Day for Disarmament.

This week NATO parliamentarians have gathered in Berlin for their annual session and their Science and Technology Committee is discussing a report on “Reducing Global Nuclear Threats” (by Pierre Claude Nolin from Canada)
The aim of our discussion here is to enter into a dialogue with the colleagues from the NATO PA on an important issue: “NATO and the Future of Nuclear Weapons”.

Dear Colleagues,
NATO is discussing a new strategic concept and it will be crucial to further progress in the field of nuclear disarmament what the outcome of this discussion will be.
NATO has prepared a report on “Raising NATO’s Profile in the Field of Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-proliferation” of which the Bucharest Summit “took note” and reaffirmed “that arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation will continue to make an important contribution to peace, security and stability…”
The Bucharest Summit declaration also points out the achievements of reductions both in the conventional field and of nuclear weapons assigned to NATO.

The NATO report by Jaap de Hoop Scheffer states “full support” for the Non-proliferation Treaty and in this context also highlights the importance of “good faith negotiations on nuclear disarmament and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under international control.” It states support for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty but it does not mention CTBT. And it does not touch the issue of the role of nuclear weapons in NATO.

The Strategic Concept of NATO, “Deterrence of Aggressions”, maintains the option of the use of nuclear weapons in a wide range of circumstances. And if you see this in the context of a US-doctrine identifying options for pre-emptive nuclear strikes against WMD attacks or capabilities,  against overwhelming conventional attacks or even “surprising” military developments, this policy regards the use of nuclear weapons useful and legal in a broad range of circumstances. Or as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark put it: nuclear weapons are “legal and accepted”. This was an answer to the Mayors for Peace Mutlangen Manifesto on the 20th anniversary of the signing of the INF treaty in December 2007. And NATO Secretary General de Hoop Schaffer responded to the manifesto: “NATO is not planning to change its nuclear policies.” The demand of the Mayors for Peace was to end nuclear sharing and the presence of US nuclear weapons in Europe.

But NATO strategy has to be changed. Nuclear arsenals no longer have the effect of deterrence or dissuasion but they seem to inspire certain states to acquire instruments of deterrence themselves.

We see the development in Iran and North Korea, the suspicions about Syria and we saw what had been going on in Libya. If we want to have success in the Review Conference of the NPT there must be strong signals of compliance with the NPT coming from a new NATO strategy.

The first thing that has to be changed in a new strategy is Nuclear Sharing. By many critics this concept is held to be in violation of Art I and II of the NPT, which prohibits to “transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly.”
Our consequence must be to remove the estimated 350 nuclear weapons belonging to the US and stationed in Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey from European soil.

We as parliamentarians from these countries should ask our governments to work for such a policy within NATO.  We as parliamentarians should press our governments to firmly reject any idea of including pre-emptive nuclear attacks into a new NATO strategic concept.

At the same time, parliamentarians in their respective parliaments should fight for support of a no-first-use policy of NATO (and of all nuclear weapon states!). We should press for legally binding negative security assurances for non-nuclear weapon states.

By deciding to abolish nuclear sharing, declaring a no-first-use policy and by granting negative security assurances to non-nuclear weapon states, NATO would give a strong signal of its willingness to support global abolition.

We as parliamentarians have to work to fulfill the yearning of the majority of the world population to get rid of the nuclear scourge. 63 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki and 38 years after the NPT’s coming into effect, it is high time for us to press for the fulfillment of the obligations of Art VI and abolish nuclear weapons. We will only be able to solve the pending nuclear conflicts with North Korea and Iran by saving the achievements of the disarmament treaties INF, START and SORT. We have to use the review process to stop the decay of the NPT regime.

We as parliamentarians should ask our governments to support the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention.

In October 2006, the UN General Assembly voted 168 to 4 to abolish nuclear weapons. In 2007 an updated Model Nuclear Weapons Convention was submitted to the Conference of the State Parties to the NPT and the the 62nd United Nations General Assembly. At the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly in October this year, there will be again a vote to commence negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Let us call upon our governments to call for abolition!