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December, 2008


1. French President Sarkozy leads EU nuclear disarmament initiative  

On December 5, French President Sarkozy, acting on behalf of the European Union (EU), sent a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (click here for the unofficial English translation) outlining proposals for nuclear disarmament. The letter indicated EU support for the universal ratification of the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the commencement of negotiations on a fissile materials treaty, greater measures for transparency by the nuclear weapon States, further reductions in nuclear stockpiles, reduction and elimination of tactical nuclear weapons, and the opening of consultation to ban ground-to-ground missiles of short and intermediate range.

The letter did not comment on the UN Secretary-General’s five point plan for nuclear disarmament announced on October 24, nor the SG’s call for a comprehensive approach to eliminate nuclear weapons through a nuclear weapons convention or a package of agreements. However, some of the other proposals in the SG’s plan were reflected in President Sarkozy’s letter.


Sergio Duarte, UN High Representative for Disarmament, one of the speakers at the European Parliament Conference


Meanwhile the European Parliament Socialist Group held a conference on December 9 entitled "Peace and Disarmament: A World without Nuclear Weapons" which explored the role of the European Community in preventing nuclear proliferation and achieving nuclear disarmament.

UN High Representative for Disarmament Sergio Duarte commented at the conference on “the ever-growing proliferation of separate disarmament agendas,” and warned that they should not be allowed to “reflect the parochial interests of specific countries or groups of countries, rather than the common good or the collective international interest.” Duarte discussed the UN Secretary-General’s five point plan for nuclear disarmament which integrated elements from many of the disarmament initiatives, and urged parliamentarians to actively promote the plan:

“Serving effectively as bridges from governments and civil society, parliaments will have crucial roles to play in achieving this goal. They serve as forums for debate, for representing the view of local constituents, for holding governments accountable, and for approving funds for governmental activities. Cooperation among national parliaments is already strong and growing, and ultimately may well make the difference in marshalling the political will needed for the next important steps forward in disarmament.” (Click here for Ambassador Duarte’s full speech).

2. France agrees to pay compensation for nuclear testing


French atmospheric test near Moruroa


On 26 November, French Defence Minister Hervé Morin announced that the French government will introduce legislation to the French National Assembly in January 2009, to compensate people affected by radiation at the nuclear test sites. This is a considerable change in French policy which until now has refused to acknowledge any serious health or environmental effects from their atmospheric and underground nuclear testing programs in Algeria and Polynesia.

However, the announcement was met with some criticism from civilian and military personnel who staffed the nuclear tests sites from 1960 until 1996. According to Nic Maclellan (France continues to avoid responsibility for nuclear compensation) the proposed legislation ignores a number of key concerns that have been central to their lobbying over the last decade, and has been designed to replace more comprehensive laws that had already gained cross-party support in the French legislature.

Maclellan says that the government’s bill requires proof of exposure through recorded dosimeter readings, which rules out many workers who were not issued dosimeters or for whom the records are missing. In addition, the government is setting level of exposure required to receive compensation at 50 mSv per year – 50 times higher than the International Commission on Radiological Protection’s recommended maximum annual dosage for the public.

On December 16, PNND Co-Presidents Abacca Anjain Maddison, Marian Hobbs, Alexa McDonough and Uta Zapf sent a letter to French President Sarkozy and Defence Minister Morin (Click here for the French version) commending France for acknowledging the government’s responsibility to provide compensation and urging that the final legislation will provide for compensation for all exposed workers and inhabitants who have experienced health effects regardless of their recorded level of exposure. The letter also commended President Sarkozy for his recent disarmament initiatives (see above) and affirms the readiness of PNND to work with France in advancing nuclear disarmament initiatives to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.

See: France finally agrees to pay damages to nuclear test victims, The Guardian, November 27

3. Global Zero campaign launched in Paris

PNND Co-President Uta Zapf, PNND Special Representative Romeo Dallaire, PNND founder Senator Douglas Roche and PNND member Rolf Mützenich have joined 129 other political, military, business, faith and civic leaders from around the world in launching Global Zero – an international campaign to build public awareness and political support for a treaty to abolish nuclear weapons through phased and verified reductions.

Global Zero launch in Paris


"It is high time we raise the awareness of responsible policy makers to the terrible risk that the possession of nuclear weapons pose. Now the new initiative Global Zero, supported by many prominent and important political leaders, will be a wake-up call to governments to adopt a proper agenda that will lead to total abolition of the deadliest weapons existing in the world," says Uta Zapf who attended the Global Zero launch in Paris on December 9.

Other leaders involved in the campaign include former US President Jimmy Carter, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, businessman Sir Richard Branson, Ehsan Ul-Haq, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Pakistan, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, and Brajesh Mishra, former Indian National Security Advisor.

Global Zero supports a concrete step-by-step plan addressing the critical issues necessary to reach the end state of zero nuclear weapons. "It's not about idealism, it is about public safety and security," said former British Defence Secretary Malcolm Rifkind who attended the conference.

However, there needs to be greater efforts to engage public and policy-makers in promoting such a treaty. "We have to work on de-legitimising the status of nuclear weapons," believes Queen Noor of Jordan, one of the participants in the campaign.

Global Zero plans a larger conference of 500 leaders in January 2010.

4. New public opinion poll shows global support for nuclear abolition


In its inaugural conference in Paris on December 9, Global Zero released a new public opinion poll of 19,142 respondents from 21 countries.  76 percent favoured an agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons within a strict time-frame. In the five nations with large nuclear arsenals and advanced delivery systems, large majorities favour the plan – Russia (69%), the United States (77%), China (83%), France (86%), and Great Britain (81%).

The results are similar to previous opinion polls on the issue (see People worldwide want nuclear abolition) – although the pollsters report that the strength of support for nuclear abolition has increased. According to Steven Kull, director of World Public Opinion “ The idea of pursuing the elimination of nuclear weapons has gained increased visibility lately since a bipartisan group of four former US senior officials, George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry, and Sam Nunn published an influential article in 2007 titled "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons" endorsing the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.” “

5. New Zealand Super Fund divests from nuclear weapons corporations

On December 12 the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund announced that they would divest from companies associated with the manufacture of cluster munitions and the manufacture or testing of nuclear explosive devices. The fund explained that this would ensure that the Fund was consistent with New Zealand law prohibiting both types of weapons (See NZ Super Fund announcement on cluster munitions and nuclear weapons).


David May, Chairman of the NZ Super Fund Board of Guardians

The Super Fund is a government investment fund, the returns from which support pension payments. The Fund had previously divested from companies that manufactured landmines or were involved in whaling – two other activities prohibited in New Zealand law – and also from tobacco companies.

The Super Fund decision follows requests from PNND New Zealand members and from New Zealand civil society organisations to follow the example of the Norwegian Pension Fund which from 2004-2006 divested from corporations involved in nuclear weapons and cluster munitions (See Nuclear Divestment by Hallgeir Langeland MP and Keith Locke MP).

6. President elect Obama and the US Congress – What to expect?

During the US Presidential election campaign Barack Obama pledged on at least two occasions to take strong nuclear disarmament steps if he became president including leading an effort to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.

In the month since his successful election, has President-elect Obama given indications that he intends to fulfill these pledges, or are the politics of building a cross-partisan team and dealing with vested pro-nuclear interests dragging him back towards a more limited agenda?


Change Nuclear Weapons Policy? Yes, We Can.

The election of Barack Obama to the presidency represents a clear mandate for change on a number of fronts, including transforming outdated U.S. policy on nuclear weapons and reviving U.S. leadership on disarmament and non-proliferation. The job now is to get the needed support in Congress and the international arena.

- Daryl Kimball
Foreign Policy in Focus
25 November 2008


Some critics claim that Obama’s appointment of Robert Gates as Secretary for Defence indicates a backward slide. In a keynote address just before the election, Gates supported the development of a new nuclear weapon (the ‘reliable replacement warhead’), argued that the US should maintain its nuclear stockpile as long as other States possessed or sought to possess nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, and claimed that US nuclear weapons deter others from developing such weapons.

However, Daryl Kimball argues that Obama is committed to nuclear disarmament and is likely to lead his new administration on a determined and comprehensive disarmament path. Kimball, in an article in Foreign Policy in Focus, says that Obama demonstrated his capacity to work cross-party on concrete nuclear disarmament steps in Senate resolution 1977 which he co-sponsored with Republican Chuck Hagel. This included key steps that Obama re-affirmed in his election campaign including de-alerting current stockpiles, ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, negotiating further stockpile reductions with Russia, commencing negotiations on a fissile materials treaty and internationalising proliferation-sensitive nuclear fuel cycle capacities.

Kimball indicates that support in the US Congress and internationally is vital for the achievement of a number of these steps.

7. Central Asia now officially a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone


Central Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone


On December 11, the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone officially entered into force following ratification by the Kazakhstan Senate. The other four countries in the zone – Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan - had already ratified the treaty.

The Central Asian zone joins other operational NWFZs covering the Antarctic, Outer Space, the Sea Bed, Latin America and the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and Southeast Asia. Momentum is also building for entry-into-force of a zone covering Africa, with only two more ratifications required from amongst the signatories.

The Central Asian NWFZ had taken a number of years to negotiate due to political difficulties arising from mixed military arrangements and security relationships with nuclear weapon States. Surrounded by Russian, Chinese, Pakistani, Indian, and Israeli nuclear weapons, and housing Russian and U.S. military bases, the new zone serves as a powerful example of successful negotiations to achieve a significant non-proliferation step.

The success in this region increases the confidence that other proposed NWFZs, for example in North East Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe and the Arctic, could also be successfully negotiated.

However, the success is tempered somewhat by the continued resistance by France, the UK and the United States to ratify protocols to the treaty honouring the zone and guaranteeing not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against the five States in the zone.

For more information see: Central Asian States Establish Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone Despite U.S. Opposition, by Scott Parish and William Potter

8. Former Secretary-General of PGA uses maiden speech to promote a nuclear weapons convention


Kennedy Graham , former Secretary-General of Parliamentarians for Global Action, entered the New Zealand parliament following the November 8 election and used his maiden speech as a Member of Parliament to emphasise the responsibilities that citizens, parliamentarians and the government have to creating a secure and sustainable world. He called on the parliament to adopt legislation prohibiting international aggression, and calling on the government to promote a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Graham argued that domestic legislation to prohibit aggression would serve to implement New Zealand’s obligations under the UN Charter and ensure both State and non-State accountability in order to prevent any New Zealander being involved in an act of international aggression.

Graham argued that New Zealand could not rest on its 1987 legislation prohibiting nuclear weapons at home, but that the government needed to demonstrate genuine commitment to a nuclear weapons free world by acting more resolutely at the United Nations especially in promoting a Nuclear Weapons Convention.

9. International Renewable Energy Agency to be established in January


PNND member Herman Scheer MdB, driving force behind the International Renewable Energy Agency


On October 24, the governments of Germany, Spain and Denmark announced that an International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) would be formally established in Bonn on 26 January 2009.

In a statement released at the IRENA Final Preparatory Conference in Madrid, the three countries said that:

"Climate change, rising energy prices, dependency on energy imports, poverty and hunger are serious challenges for mankind. Renewable energies have the proven potential to address these challenges. But even though the potential is huge and many countries want to move into a less fossil fuel dependent future, the diffusion and adoption of renewable energies still faces severe barriers and obstacles. Acting as the global voice for renewable energies, IRENA will provide practical advice and support for both industrialised and developing countries, help them improve their regulatory frameworks and build capacity."

51 states from different regions meeting in Madrid discussed a Statute (Treaty) of the International Renewable Energy Agency which would guide the work of the new agency.

PNND member Dr Hermann Scheer, the driving force behind the initiative, believes that IRENA is necessary not only to assist countries reduce fossil fuels, but also to provide an alternative to nuclear energy which poses nuclear-weapon proliferation risks as well as risks to health and the environment. In a letter to PNND members, Dr Scheer called on parliamentarians to encourage their governments to join IRENA and to shift the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s energy emphasis away from nuclear energy and towards proliferation-benign, environmentally-sound and sustainable renewable energy technologies. Dr Scheer also invites parliamentarians to attend the IRENA founding conference on January 26 in Bonn, and has drafted a Model parliamentary resolution on IRENA to build awareness and support in parliaments.

For more information see: Nuclear Energy: The answer to Climate Change or a recipe for weapons proliferation? Dr Herman Scheer. PNND Notes 2008.

10. PNND appoints Senior Officer in France


PNND is pleased to announce the appointment of Lisa von Trapp as Senior Officer in France. Lisa has considerable experience in parliamentary networks having worked for Parliamentarians for Global Action, the United Nations Development Program for Parliamentary Strengthening and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. She currently works for the World Bank Parliamentary program on Governance (Paris Desk). She has also worked in other organisations with an international relations focus including the Institut des Hauts Etudes de Défense Nationale, New York Times (Paris Bureau), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Paris Desk) and the OSCE/ODIHR Electoral Observation Mission.  

Lisa will work part-time for PNND based in Paris focused on engaging members of the French National Assembly and French Senate in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament issues and in PNND activities.



1. French President Sarkozy leads EU nuclear disarmament initiative

2. France agrees to pay compensation for nuclear testing

3. Global Zero campaign launched in Paris

4. New public opinion poll shows global support for nuclear abolition

5. New Zealand Super Fund divests from nuclear weapons corporations

6. President elect Obama and the US Congress – What to expect?

7. Central Asia now officially a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone

8. Former PGA Secretary-General uses maiden speech to promote a nuclear weapons convention

9. International Renewable Energy Agency to be established in January

10. PNND appoints Executive Officer in France dddddddddddddd