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May, 2009

1.Inter-Parliamentary Union promotes CTBT and nuclear disarmament

On April 9 the 120th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which represents over 150 parliaments, adopted a resolution on the role of parliamentarians to advance the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and promote nuclear disarmament.

Baronness Sue Miller hosting PNND lunch at IPU Assembly

The resolution calls on parliaments and parliamentarians to ensure universal ratification of the CTBT, and also to promote the UN Secretary-General’s five-point plan for nuclear disarmament, and support a number of concurrent steps such as reductions in nuclear stockpiles, establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones, and commencement of negotiations on a fissile materials treaty.

The resolution arose from a working group of the IPU established by the 118th Assembly in South Africa and discussed at the 119th Assembly in Geneva. PNND members played an active role in proposing the resolution, speaking at the various plenaries where the resolution was discussed, submitting draft text and advocating for its adoption.

Its adoption by consensus provides a strong mandate for parliamentarians to implement its recommendations.

2. European Parliament supports NWC and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Protocol

On 24 April the European Parliament, in preparation for the 2009 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting and the 2010 NPT Review Conference, adopted a ground-breaking report and resolution calling on the European Council to actively promote nuclear stockpile reductions, the commencement of negotiations on a fissile materials treaty, and concrete work on verification for nuclear disarmament.

PNND members Angelika Beer and Annemie Nyets-Uyttebroeck

The resolution also noted the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention which has been circulated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon as a guide to disarmament negotiations, and called on the European Council to support the Nuclear Weapons Convention and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Protocol in order to achieve the early prohibition of nuclear weapons and their complete elimination by 2020.

PNND member Angelika Beer (Greens) coordinated the Foreign Affairs working group which produced the background report and draft resolution. Other PNND members including Frieda Brepoels (Christian Democrats), Annemie Neyts- Uyttebroeck ( Alliance of Liberals and Democrats) and Ana Gomes (Socialists) played key roles in ensuring a strong final text which included the NWC and Hiroshima/Nagasaki protocol, and in building cross-party support for its adoption.

3. PNND Honorary Member appointed Head of UN Development Program

The Rt Hon Helen Clark, an Honorary Member of PNND and the former Prime Minister of New Zealand, has been appointed as the new Head of the United Nations Development Program.

Helen Clark

Helen Clark was Prime Minister from 1999 until 2008 becoming New Zealand’s fourth longest serving Prime Minister. She was Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee and later a Cabinet Minister in the 1984-1990 Labour government which adopted groundbreaking legislation to prohibit and criminalise the manufacture, possession, testing, deployment, threat and use of nuclear weapons and which also established a Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control and which introduced peace and disarmament education into the school curriculum.

As Prime Minister she was active in a range of peace initiatives including launching the Global Campaign for Peace Education in New York during the UN Millennium Summit, and opening PNND’s second international parliamentary conference in the New Zealand parliament in 2004.

Ms Clark was welcomed into the position on 28 April by Deputy-Secretary-General of the United Nations Asha-Rose Migiro as part of a Powhiri (New Zealand indigenous welcome) at the UN in New York which also included the Maori King Te Arikinui Kingi Tuheitia, Paramount Chief of Ngati Tuwharetoa Ariki Tumu Te Heuheu, former Governor-General of New Zealand Sir Paul Reeves and Member of the New Zealand Parliament Hon Parekura Horomia.

4. High-level nuclear disarmament statements:

a. US President Obama’s Prague speech

US President Barack Obama
Credit: Petr Josek/REUTERS

On 5 April US President Barack Obama gave an historic speech in Prague on nuclear disarmament. Speaking to an audience of approximately 20,000, Obama highlighted the threat from nuclear weapons: The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War. No nuclear war was fought between the United States and the Soviet Union, but generations lived with the knowledge that their world could be erased in a single flash of light. Cities like Prague that existed for centuries, that embodied the beauty and the talent of so much of humanity, would have ceased to exist…Today, the Cold War has disappeared but thousands of those weapons have not. In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.”

Obama reasserted “ clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons ,” and noted the special responsibility of the US to take leadership in this endeavour: as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it.”

Obama then outlined his disarmament program including commitments to negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia, move the US Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty , commence negotiations on a fissile materials treaty, and establish an international nuclear fuels bank to prevent the domestic development of proliferation-sensitive nuclear facilities around the world. Obama also announced his intention to host a Global Summit on Nuclear Security.

The speech offers hope that the key disarmament steps outlined by President Obama could be achieved in the near future paving the way for concrete progress to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.

b. Australian statesmen promote a NWC

Former Prime Minister
Malcolm Fraser

On April 7, a number of high-level Australian figures including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, former Defence Force chief General Peter Gration and former chief of the army Lieutenant-General John Sanderson wrote an open letter to Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd welcoming the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament which Rudd established in 2008, calling on Australia to abandon any remnants of ‘extended nuclear deterrence’ in its security doctrine, and urging that Australia lead an international effort to achieve a Nuclear Weapons Convention. The letter noted that:

The most effective, expeditious and practical way to achieve and sustain the abolition of nuclear weapons is to negotiate a comprehensive, irreversible, binding, verifiable treaty - a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) - bringing together all the necessary aspects of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation…

Canada championed the treaty banning landmines, or Ottawa Treaty; Norway led the way on the cluster munitions with the Oslo Convention. Why should the Nuclear Weapons Convention the world needs and deserves not be championed and led by Australia and become known as the Canberra (or Sydney or Melbourne or Brisbane) Convention?

The statement notes that the election of a US President with a genuine commitment to nuclear disarmament provides a unique opportunity that must not be squandered.

An increasingly resource- and climate-stressed world is an ever more dangerous place for nuclear weapons. We must not fail.

(See Sydney Morning Herald "Fraser backs Rudd on Nuclear Weapons", April 8, 2009).

c. German elder statesmen call for Freedom from Nuclear Weapons

Former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt

On 10 January, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a statement by four German statesmen including former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (Social Democrat), former President Richard von Weizsaecker (Christian Democrat), former German Federal Minister Egon Bahr (Social Democrat), and former Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (Liberal) calling for freedom from nuclear weapons.

The statement re-asserts the Reagan/Gorbachev vision for a nuclear-Weapons-Free world, emphasises that this vision is now achievable, calls for the removal of all remaining US nuclear weapons on German soil, supports the proposal for a treaty on no-first-use of nuclear weapons as a first step towards prohibition, opposes US plans to station ballistic missile defences in former Warsaw Pact countries, and calls for increased security cooperation between America, Russia, Europe and China.

The statement notes that:

No global problem, be it the issue of environment and climate protection, providing for the energy needs of a growing world population, or tackling the financial crisis, can be resolved by confrontation or the use of military force. Cooperation, our century's keyword, and secure stability in the northern hemisphere can become milestones on the route to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

 d. Foreign Minister calls for elimination of nuclear weapons in Germany

In a landmark speech to the German Parliament (Bundestag) on 27 April Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier endorsed the Prague statement by US President Barack Obama with its aim to create "peace and security in a world without nuclear weapons." Steinmeier welcomed the renewed commitment by the US and Russia to reduce strategic nuclear weapons - an important factor along the path towards the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. Steinmeier said that Europe also had a role to play in nuclear disarmament: "If we want Europe to evolve into a nuclear-free zone then the remaining nuclear weapons in Germany must also be eliminated." (See Germany: a world without nuclear weapons).

e. Former Polish Presidents Kwasniewski and Walesa support Zero Option

On 3 April the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza published an article by two former Polish Presidents, Aleksander Kwasniewski and Lech Walesa and former Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki supporting the aim of zero nuclear weapons.

Former President and Nobel Laureate Lech Walesa

The authors argue that nuclear weapons “served the goal of deterrence during the Cold War, with the world divided into two opposing blocks, and with Security rested on a balance of fear, as reflected in the concept of mutual assured destruction.” However, they believe that “Today the global picture is different’ and that ‘the dangerous doctrine of mutual deterrence [must be] replaced with a system founded on cooperation and interdependence.”

The statement argues that “abolishing nuclear weapons is as important as respect for human rights and the rights of minorities and establishing in the world a governance based on rule of law and democracy”, and reflects on the denuclearisation of South Africa, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan as positive examples from which to learn.

f. UNSG Ban Ki-Moon calls on CD to begin disarmament negotiations

On 20 January, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, called on the Conference on Disarmament – the worlds multilateral disarmament negotiating body – to begin negotiations on nuclear disarmament. Since concluding the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations in 1996, the CD has been unable to do anything more than discussions on nuclear disarmament. Ban Ki-moon urged the CD to “convert your discussions on procedure into practical negotiations that will lead to real disarmament.”

He reminded them of the five-point plan for nuclear disarmament which he released in October 2008 which included specific roles for the CD. He also noted that “At a time of global economic and financial crisis, advancing the disarmament agenda could produce a tangible peace dividend when the world needs it most.  The United Nations Charter calls for “the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources”.  If we are to deliver on the Millennium Development Goals in a deteriorating economic climate, all United Nations Member States must be mindful of this solemn responsibility.”

See: UN Secretary-General Message to the Conference on Disarmament

g. IAEA Head Mohamed ElBaradei’s five-point plan for disarmament

On 2 April Sueddeutsche published an article by International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei entitled Five steps towards abolishing nuclear weapons, in which ElBaradei calls for reductions in nuclear stockpiles, an international system to control fissile materials, increased support for verification activities, and further development of cooperative security mechanisms to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. ElBaradei writes that: “ The world has already banned the possession or use of both chemical and biological weapons. It would be a tragedy on an unimaginable scale if we cannot do the same for the most horrific weapons ever invented.”

5. NWC hearings in the Bundestag

On 17 December 2008 the Subcommittee on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag held a hearing on the Model Nuclear Weapons Convention.

Presentations to the committee were made by civil society experts involved in the drafting of the Model NWC – Regina Hagen (International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation) and Xanthe Hall (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War).

The hearing, hosted by Committee Chair and PNND Co-President Uta Zapf, was attended by representatives of the five political parties represented in the Bundestag as well as Peter Gottwald, the Federal Government Commissioner for Arms Control and Disarmament.

6. Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones

a. Central Asian NWFZ enters-into-force

On 21 st March 2009, the Treaty on the Nuclear Weapons-Free-Zone in Central Asia entered-into-force, 30 days after the deposit of the final instrument of ratification (by Kazakhstan). The Central Asian NWFZ includes five States Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its agreement brought the number of countries in NWFZs to 113.

Each NWFZ has some similarities and some differences with other NWFZs. They all prohibit the threat, use, manufacture, testing or possession of nuclear weapons by the States parties, and also the stationing of nuclear weapons on the States’ territories. The NWFZs also include protocols in which the nuclear weapon States commit to respect the zone and not to threaten or use nuclear weapons against States parties.

However, there are differences in other aspects such as the zone of application, provisions on nuclear weapons deployment through territorial waters, controls on nuclear energy facilities and administrative bodies.

The Central Asian NWFZ has some unique features in being the first regional NWFZ completely in the Northern Hemisphere and the only one which requires States parties to adhere to the IAEA additional protocol. It is also significant that it includes States that have security arrangements with nuclear weapons States, and one state (Kazakhstan) that used to host strategic nuclear weapons. It also borders States possessing nuclear weapons ( Russia and China)

The successful conclusion of the Central Asian NWFZ despite political difficulties gives confidence for the achievement of other NWFZs such as those proposed for North East Asia, Central Europe and the Arctic.

b. Parliamentarians promote North-East Asian NWFZ

Following the nuclear weapons test by North Korea in October 2006, PNND submitted a Parliamentary Statement to the governments of North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and the United States condemning the nuclear weapons test, calling for entry-into-force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and calling for a successful conclusion of the Six Party Talks and the negotiation of a North East Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone. The letter was signed by legislators from 20 countries including Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

Kwon Young-ghil

PNND member KWON Young-ghil followed this up by drafting a resolution which was adopted by the Korean National Assembly on Resolution for Realizing Peace and Development of the Korean Peninsula which included promotion of the NE Asian NWFZ proposal. See Korean Peninsula in Transition: From denuclearization to a nuclear-free zone and a Peace Regime in Korea by Kwon Young-Ghil, PNND Notes 2008 p22

The Peace Depot has released a Statement of Support for a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and a Model Treaty on the Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. Both are receiving support from cross-party parliamentarians.  

The Democratic Party of Japan Parliamentarians' Nuclear Disarmament Group supports and studied such a concrete scheme of a Northeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone .They developed a draft treaty of their own, which was publicized it by Katsuya Okada, Chair of the group and former Chair of Democratic Party of Japan at Nagasaki on 8 August 2008. The draft treaty adopted a scheme called “three plus three nations arrangement,” which has been proposed by the Peace Depot as the most realistic and feasible initiative of Northeast Asia Nuclear-Free Zone. The group will be presenting on the proposal at a Peace Depot event at the NPT Prep Com in New York on May 8 (See NPT Prep Com events).

c. Conference of States Parties to NWFZs

In 2005 the government of Mexico hosted the first conference of States Parties to Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones and invited States parties to the NPT to attend as observers. The aim of the conference was to increase collaboration between the NWFZs, encourage the Nuclear Weapon States to fully respect the zones (including ratification of all relevant protocols) and support the establishment of additional NWFZs.

Opening of the NWFZ Meeting in Mongolia

PNND was invited to organise a parallel Civil Society Forum for parliamentarians, mayors, scientists, academics, nuclear weapons survivors (hibakusha), non-governmental organisations and other representatives from civil society (see PNND Notes 2006, p8). The final declaration from the Civil Society Forum was forwarded, along with the declaration from the conference of States Parties, to the 2005 NPT Review Conference (See NPT/conf 2005/wp46)

From 26-28 April 2009, the government of Mongolia hosted an inter-governmental preparatory meeting for the 2010 Conference of States Parties to NWFZs. PNND participated in the preparatory conference and will again play a lead role in building political and civil society support for the 2010 conference. (See Chair’s Statement concluding the Conference of Focal points of Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones).

d. Inter-Parliamentary Union resolution promotes NWFZs

The resolution adopted on 9 April by the 120 th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (see item 1 above) included a call, proposed by the German delegation to the IPU, on “parliaments to support the full ratification and implementation of existing nuclear-weapon-free zones, and to explore the possibility of establishing additional nuclear-weapon-free zones freely agreed by States in specific regions.”

e. Conference on an Arctic NWFZ – Denmark August 10

On 10 August 2009, a conference on an Arctic Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone will be held in Copenhagen sponsored by the Danish Pugwash Group, Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and the Swedish branch of IPPNW (SLMK). The conference follows on from – and extends – a half-day seminar held on the issue in the Danish parliament on 17 November 2008 (See Denmark , the NPT and an Arctic Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone). It will precede a conference on Arctic Security hosted by DIIS on 11 August. For more information contact John Scales Avery, Ph.D. Chairman, Danish Pugwash Group.

7. Nuclear testing

a. Michael Douglas on importance of CTBT ratification

At the Fourth Ministerial meeting to support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, UN Messenger for Peace Michael Douglas joined Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith, former US Secretary of Defence William Perry, former Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnick and Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Stagno Ugarte in a special event to encourage those States that had not ratified the CTBT to do so.

Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik chairing the CTBT Ministerial meeting in 2008, featuring William Perry and Michael Douglas

Douglas recalled his early memories of the nuclear weapons threat:

When I was growing up in New York City, we used to have air raid drills. This was after Russia announced that it had conducted its first nuclear test in 1949. If there was a bright flash, you were supposed to get under your desk. At five or six years old, it was hard to grasp this thing, this white light. It was so powerful. And there was obviously a nightmare quality about it – a monster quality – which I think always haunted me. Even as a kid.

He noted that:

There is no need to test nuclear weapons. It is imperative that the CTBT can come into force, including in my own country the United States.

For an interview with Michael Douglas on the CTBT and nuclear disarmament, see the April 2009 edition of Spectrum, the online newsletter of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation.

b. Nuclear tests veterans case heard in UK High Court

About 1000 British, Fijian and New Zealand veterans from UK nuclear testing are awaiting the result of a case in the UK High Court that started in January this year requesting compensation for illnesses they believe were caused by the UK tests in the Pacific during the 1950s (See Nuclear bomb-test veterans take compensation claim to high court, The Guardian 21 January, and

The US has for some time acknowledged health effects from their nuclear testing program in the Pacific and provides compensation for a range of illnesses. Last year the French government reversed early policy denying such effects from their nuclear tests and is now prepared to offer limited compensation. The UK for years refused to acknowledge such effects from its nuclear tests, and now says that time limitations make it too late for any compensation claims (See British Government 'Snuffing Out' Compensation for Nuclear-Test Veterans). For many the case has come too late (See Nuclear test survivor dies before High Court battle). But for those veterans still alive, and for the families of those who have died, a successful case would still be a vindication.

8. Non-Proliferation Treaty PrepCom events

Bill Siksay, MP, Canada

From 4-14 May 2009 States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty will be meeting at the United Nations in New York in preparation for the 2010 NPT Review Conference. This, the first meeting of NPT parties since the election of Barack Obama to the US Presidency, will set the scene for progress on multilateral nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives.

PNND and its partner organisations the Global Security Institute (GSI) and the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI) are organising a number of events during the NPT PrepCom to encourage governments to take this opportunity to make concrete progress on a balanced and effective non-proliferation and disarmament program.

These include

    • May 6 : Progressive Initiatives with Hon. Gareth Evans of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, supermodel Christie Brinkley, PNND Japan member Hideo Hiraoka and MPI Chair Ambassador Henrik Salander
    • May 7 : Voices of Experience with UN High Representative Sergio Duarte, UN Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas, Former Under-Secretary General Nobuyasu Abe, and Former Under-Secretary General Jayantha Dhanapala
    • May 8 : The Role of Parliamentarians in advancing a nuclear-Weapons-Free world with Congressman Dennis Kucinich US Congress, Bill Kidd, MSP Scotland, Mayra Gomez PNND Program Officer, Hideo Hiraoka MP Japan, Bill Siksay MP Canada, and Alyn Ware PNND Global Coordinator
    • May 14: The Role of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones in non-proliferation, security and disarmament. Co-sponsored by PNND, IALANA and the permanent Missions to the UN of Mexico and Mongolia.

Click here for details of all NPT side events.

























1. Inter-Parliamentary Union promotes CTBT and nuclear disarmament

2. European Parliament supports NWC and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki Protocol

3. PNND Honorary Member appointed Head of UN Development Program

4. High-level nuclear disarmament statements:
    a. US President Obama’s Prague speech and international reactions
    b. Australian statesmen promote a NWC
    c. German elder statesmen call for Freedom from Nuclear Weapons
    d. Foreign Minister calls for elimination of nuclear weapons in Germany
    e. Former Polish Presidents Kwasniewski and Walesa support Zero Option
    f. UNSG Ban Ki-Moon calls on CD to begin disarmament negotiations
    g. IAEA Head Mohammed El Baradei’s five-point plan for disarmament

5. NWC hearings in the Bundestag

6. Nuclear Weapons-Free Zones
    a. Central Asian NWFZ enters-into-force
    b. Parliamentarians promote North-East Asian NWFZ
    c. Conference of States Parties to NWFZs
    d. Inter-Parliamentary Union promotes NWFZs
    e. Conference on an Arctic NWFZ

7. Nuclear testing
    a. Michael Douglas on importance of CTBT ratification
    b. Nuclear tests veterans case heard in UK High Court

8. Non-Proliferation Treaty events