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1. Parliamentarians and Nobel Laureates advance nuclear abolition

ware de klerk  
Alyn Ware and President de Klerk co-chair the PNND roundtable at the Nobel Summit

In a joint declaration released on 12 November, Nobel Peace laureates meeting in Hiroshima paid tribute to the atomic bomb survivors who have dedicated their lives to the campaign for nuclear disarmament, and called for a universal treaty to abolish nuclear weapons. The Dalai Lama, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Fredrik de Klerk, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi and a number of Nobel Laureate organizations (see Summit Participants) declared that “Nuclear weapons cannot be dis-invented, but they can and must be outlawed, just as chemical and biological weapons, landmines and cluster munitions have been declared illegal.”  

The Summit also established an action group of Nobel Peace Laureates to follow-up on the issues and proposals in the Declaration. PNND organised a joint roundtable of parliamentarians and Nobel Peace Laureates in Hiroshima to discuss strategies for collaboration in advancing nuclear abolition, including the possibility of joint delegations of parliamentarians and Nobel laureates to key capitals.
For more information see:
     • Nobel Peace Summit website
     • Legacy of Hiroshima: Report of PNND Member Saber Chowdhury

2. Wikileaks on NATO nukes

Arms Control Wonk Jeffrey Lewis reports this month on two cables from Wikileaks regarding deployment of US nuclear weapons in NATO countries, the first of which confirms such deployments and the second of which claims that the Belgian government refused to join an effort by Germany and Netherlands to ask for the removal of US nuclear weapons from their territory — despite the enthusiasm shown by the then-Foreign Minister Yves Leterme (now the Prime Minister). Lewis notes that “Belgian MOD and MFA officials apparently had to rein in Leterme when he initially responded too positively to the idea. Belgium’s official policy rejects a unilateral approach to disarmament and insists that the issue must be discussed among all NATO members at one time, with due regard for US-Russian bilateral discussions and the NPT.”

  nato weapons
Nuclear weapons in Europe - Elevated Weapons Storage Vault with B61 weapon

However, PNND Italian Coordinator Lisa Clark reports that the Italian government was even more reluctant to join the German/Dutch initiative, with the Berlusconi government apparently offering to take in any US nuclear weapons that other Allies asked to be removed from their territory. Such a move has been opposed by the Regional Government of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Berlusconi allies) which made a public statement in response opposing any attempt to increase the number of nuclear weapons in the Aviano airbase. There does not appear to be much support either in the parliament, with it unanimously adopting a resolution on 23 June 2009 submitted by PNND member Federica Mogherini calling on the government to advance the goal of zero nuclear weapons and work with other European governments to achieve a Central European zone free from all nuclear weapons as a step toward this goal.

Parliamentarians from all NATO nuclear sharing States (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Turkey) sent a letter to US President Obama in March this year supporting his vision of a nuclear weapons-free world and calling for the removal of US tactical nuclear weapons from their soil as a practical first step.

3. An Ottawa process for Nukes?

Lloyd Axworthy, former Foreign Minister of Canada

In 1996, Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy invited ‘like-minded States’ to Ottawa to draft a treaty banning landmines—bypassing negotiations on a more limited landmines control regime that were bogged down in Geneva. The “Ottawa” Process achieved a landmines treaty in just over a year. Ten years later a similar process starting in Oslo achieved an international treaty banning cluster munitions, also in a relatively short time. PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware, in An Ottawa Process for Nukes (published in Embassy - Canada’s foreign policy weekly, 10 November 2010), writes that perhaps now is the time to start an Ottawa-type process for nuclear weapons.

The idea for a group of like-minded governments starting a Preparatory Process for a Nuclear Weapons Convention was floated by the Middle Powers Initiative at the 2010 NPT Review Conference and gained traction in the final document agreed by all NPT States which emphasized that international humanitarian law applies to nuclear weapons.

Ware notes that it was international humanitarian law that provided the basis for the Landmines and Cluster Munitions treaties, and that “The application of IHL to nuclear weapons opens up the possibility for States to start a prohibition process—regardless of whether or not the nuclear weapon states (NWS) join in the beginning—or are forced by the gathering momentum to join later. Such a process could include like-minded states a) negotiating a treaty prohibiting and criminalizing the threat and use of nuclear weapons, b) adding a protocol to the Statute of the International Criminal Court making it a crime under the statute to threaten or use nuclear weapons, or c) adopting national legislation prohibiting and criminalizing nuclear weapons—as New Zealand, Philippines, Austria and Mongolia have already done.”

4. Canadian House of Commons adopts NWC resolution

Bill Siksay, author of NWC resolution

On 7 December 2010, the Canadian House of Commons gave unanimous consent to a motion submitted by Bill Siksay MP, Chair of the Canadian Section of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND), endorsing the United Nations Secretary-General’s Five-Point-Plan for nuclear disarmament and calling on the Government of Canada to engage in negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention as proposed by the UN Secretary-General.

The motion also endorsed a statement signed by over 500 members of the Order of Canada (the highest award in Canada) expressing an urgent need for action to abolish nuclear weapons, calling on all States to commence negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, and urging Canada to take leadership. Endorsers include filmmakers Atom Egoyan and Norman Jewison, authors Margaret Atwood, Charlotte Gray and Michael Ondaatje, entertainers like Bruce Cockburn, artists such as Alex Colville, environmentalist David Suzuki, ballerina Karen Kain, former external affairs minister Flora MacDonald and Senator Romeo Dallaire.

The House of Commons action resolution follows a similar motion submitted by Senator Hugh Segal (Conservative Party) to the Canadian Senate and adopted unanimously on 2 June 2010 (See Canadian Senate supports Nuclear Weapons Convention – unanimously).

5. International Day Against Nuclear Tests


PNND actively supported the inaugural International Day Against Nuclear Tests with events at the United Nations and in a number of parliaments. The day was established at the initiative of Kazakhstan and supported by a unanimous UN resolution in 2009. The official date is 29 August, the anniversary of the closing of Semipalatinsk nuclear test site – one of the first actions of Kazakhstan when it became independent in 1991. However, commemorative events continued into September.

Events at the United Nations included an exhibition on the Effects of nuclear tests and the closure of the test site in Semipalatinsk, an Informal Meeting of the General Assembly, and a High Level Workshop to Mark the Day.

Parliamentary events included a panel in the New Zealand parliament with the Minister for Disarmament, a live-video feed from the headquarters of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation demonstrating the global monitoring system, and awards to nuclear test veterans (military personnel affected by nuclear tests) and nuclear-test-ban advocates. PNND invited to the event ambassadors from countries that have not yet ratified the CTBT, including Annex 2 countries (those whose ratification is required for entry-into-force).

6. PNND launches France-UK collaboration

On 2 November the UK and France signed defence cooperation agreements which strengthen collective security between the two countries. The agreements create the potential for the British and French defence industries and military forces to work together in areas such as unmanned aerial vehicles or drones, equipment for nuclear submarines and military satellites, joint training exercises, joint use of aircraft carriers and cooperation in nuclear testing facilities. The agreements also envisage a "single European prime contractor" to develop a series of new missiles. See 'UK and France sign up to closer military cooperation’, Reuters, 2 Nov.

On 4 November, two days after the announcement of the French-UK cooperation agreements, PNND held a joint meeting of French and UK legislators in the French Senate to discuss the agreements and the possibilities to develop cooperation between France and the UK on common security and nuclear disarmament. PNND plans to increase dialogue and cooperation between French and UK parliamentarians on these issues including through a parliamentary conference in the French Congress in early 2011.

7. Parliamentary support for START

Parliamentarians from around the world – and especially from NATO countries - are expressing strong support for ratification of the new START Treaty. Earlier this year PNND members from Germany, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands sent letters to Presidents Obama and Mededev congratulating them on concluding negotiations on the New START treaty. Last week PNND Co-President Ed Markey organized a letter signed by 35 Members of Congress, including 4 other PNND members, urging ratification of the New START treaty before the end of the year.

Rep. Ed Markey

On 29 November, a group of high-level conservative, liberal and labour UK parliamentarians (including former defense secretaries and foreign secretaries) released a letter published in the New York Times calling on US Senate ratification of the new START treaty. The letter recalled support for START from the NATO Summit in Lisbon (19-20 November) plus support for Ballistic Missile Defenses – including cooperation with Russia on BMD.

The BMD issue, however, remains controversial with Russian leaders questioning whether it really is a defensive system or an offensive system in disguise. Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Ambassador to NATO, for example, asked after the Lisbon Summit, “The NATO gamekeepers invite the Russian bear to go hunting rabbits together. The bear doesn’t understand: why do they have bear-hunting rifles?” (Dominion Post, 22 November).

8. Russian statesmen: Nuclear disarmament a pathway to peace

Yevgeny Primakov, former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs

On 22 October, four high-level Russian statesmen (Yevgeny Primakov former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Igor Ivanov former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mikhail Moiseyev former Chief of the General Staff, and Evgeny Velikhov President of the Kurchatov Institute) released a statement calling for an end to nuclear deterrence and the further development of reliable mechanisms for peaceful settlement of major and local international and border conflicts.

They noted that “nuclear deterrence is not effective against the new threats of the 21st century, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems, global terrorism, ethnic and religious conflicts, and cross-border crime,” and that “The concept of nuclear deterrence has become an insurmountable obstacle on the path to global nuclear disarmament.” However, the statesmen note that “a world without nuclear weapons is not our existing world minus nuclear weapons… Nuclear disarmament is not a goal in itself but rather an important precondition and method for re-organising international life on more civilised principles.”

See Start a new disarmament plan, Russia and India Report, 22 October.

9. Nuclear submarine runs aground – Scottish parliament reacts

On 22 October PNND Council member Bill Kidd submitted Motion S3M-07241 to the Scottish parliament, supported by 23 other Members of Parliament, which “notes with serious concern reports that the Royal Navy HMS Astute submarine ran aground close to the Skye Bridge; further notes that this comes as the latest in a catalogue of like incidents involving nuclear submarines off the west coast of Scotland in previous years; believes that, while no nuclear reactor leak or any other environmental concerns have as yet been reported, the potentiality of such a calamity remains of grave concern; considers that inquiries into previous incidents of a similar nature have highlighted the insufficient application of the safety regime for nuclear submarines, and calls on the Ministry of Defence to instigate an immediate inquiry into this incident.”

10. Tension on the Korean peninsula – prospects for a nuclear-weapon-free zone

On 23 November North Korean North Korean troops bombarded Yeonpyeong, an island in disputed waters, with dozens of rounds of artillery, killing two South Korean soldiers and two civilians and injuring around 20 other people. Seoul placed its military on its highest non-wartime alert level, scrambling F-16 fighter jets to the western sea and returning fire. The United States dispatched the aircraft carrier George Washington based in US Naval Base Yokosuka, Japan to join military exercises with South Korea in show of force. North Korea claimed that the attacks were in response to artillery fire from South Korean forces into disputed maritime territory.

PNND Japan and South Korea leaders
meet in Tokyo

The increasingly tense situation highlights a number of aspects of the Korean conflict including the fact that the boundary between the two countries remains in dispute, the parties have not yet been able to negotiate a formal agreement ending the war of 1950-53, and the risks arising from development of nuclear weapons by North Korea - supposedly to counter a perceived threat to them from US nuclear weapons and the US nuclear alliances with Japan and South Korea.

In this context, PNND members have been exploring options for reducing the nuclear threats in the region including denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the possibilities for a NE Asian Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone.

PNND has held a number of parliamentary meetings and conferences in Seoul and Tokyo, as well as delegations to Washington, Beijing and Pyongyang. The general conclusion arising from these is that a return to the 1992 agreement on denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula does not appear feasible – nor a proposal for a Japan/South Korea NWFZ. However, there appears to be considerable interest and support for the proposal for a NE Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone based on the 3+3 formula advanced by the Peace Depot and by the Democratic Party of Japan Parliamentarians Disarmament Group (formerly chaired by current Party Secretary Katsuya Okada with PNND Council Member Hideo Hiraoka as a senior adviser).

The proposal has found cross-party support in a declaration endorsed by 92 parliamentarians from Japan and South Korea, including Yoriko Kawaguchi, former Foreign Minister and the Co-Chair of the International Commission for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

11. PNND mourns the loss of Dr Hermann Scheer

Dr Hermann Scheer

PNND expresses our most profound sorrow for the passing of our good friend and long-time PNND member Dr Hermann Scheer. Dr Scheer was a dedicated and passionate leader in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons and the development of safe, renewable energies.

Dr Scheer was a member of the German Parliament for three decades and advisor to governments and parliamentarians in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. He was General Chairman of the World Council for Renewable Energy (WCRE) and President of EUROSOLAR, the European Association for Renewable Energy. Dr Scheer was recipient of many awards including the World Solar Prize (1998), Right Livelihood Award (1999), World Prize on Bioenergy, World Wind Energy Award (2004) and Global Renewable Energy Leadership Award. Dr Scheer was instrumental in the establishment of the International Renewable Energy Agency, and was named by TIME Magazine in 2002 as "Hero for the Green Century."

PNND mourns his passing, salutes his accomplishments and sends deepest condolences to his family, colleagues and friends (See PNND Eulogy for Dr Scheer).