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Total ban of Nuclear Weapons

European Parliament

On Tuesday July 1st 2008 12:00 noon at the EP in Brussels a cross-party group representing 69 Members of the European Parliament from 19 EU member states launched a "Parliamentary declaration in support of the Nuclear Weapons Convention". Their support marked the 40th anniversary of the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the unfulfilled promise of the official Nuclear Weapon States to move towards total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

The appeal calls for multilateral negotiations to prevent proliferation and achieve non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament through a Nuclear Weapons Convention. The parliamentary statement was drafted and agreed by the cross-party group of Deputy Chairs of the European Parliament section of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND): Ms. Ana Gomes (PSE - Portugal) and Mr. Girts Kristovskis (UEN - Latvia), both vice-chairs of the EP Security and Defense subcommittee; Ms. Annemie Neyts (ALDE - Belgium); Ms. Angelika Beer (Greens - ALE - Germany) and Mr. Andre Brie (GUE/NGL - Germany).

Amongst the first endorsers we find Ms. Frieda Brepoels and Mr. Raymond Langendries (PPE-DE, Belgium), both members of the Christian-democratic political group within the EP. On July 1st already over 69 members of the EP signed up in support of the NWC, a very encouraging start for the organizers pledged to mobilize further support for the NWC.

Ms. Frieda Brepoels (PPE-De, Belgium) declared during the signing ceremony: "After 40 years it is also for the US, Russia, China, Great-Britain and France the highest time to keep their promises and destroy their entire nuclear arsenal. Nuclear weapons add nothing to a better and more secure world. A majority of people all over the world want a total ban on nuclear weapons. The non proliferation Treaty looses its credibility if the Heads of Government of those countries refuse to negotiate. They carry an enormous responsibility for all the following generations."

This support for a Nuclear Weapons Convention has come at the right time according to Mr. Girts Kristovskis (UEN - Latvia), who will table the document during a UEN group meeting in Copenhagen this week. As Vice-Chair of the EP Subcommittee on Security and Defense he stated: "The inability of states to progress with nuclear disarmament; the long term freezing of the Treaty of Non-Proliferation and the growing interest of terrorists to use the possibility of smuggling nuclear weapons brings civilization ever closer to the nightmare scenario becoming a reality. Unfortunately, we are rather passive." .

During the launch in Brussels Ms. Adriana Bolanos, Charg? d'Affaires of the Embassy of Costa Rica highlighted the need for the Nuclear Weapons Convention. The government of Costa Rica has been taking a leading role within the United Nations in favor of a convention banning all nuclear weapons. Last year Costa Rica submitted the a Model Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) to the Preparatory Committee of the NPT in Vienna (1) and at the General Assembly of the UN. The Model NWC outlines the legal, technical and political elements required to achieve the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons under strict international control.

Ana Gomes, PSE (Portugal) also Vice-Chair of the EP Subcommittee Security and Defense declared: "I signed this statement because I think the time has come to break the impasse in the implementation of NPT, both in its non-proliferation and in its disarmament aspects. With a new US administration about to come to power, this is the right moment for parliamentarians and legislators around the world to add their voices to the growing campaign for a world without nuclear weapons. We, in the European Parliament, recognize our responsibility to push the European nuclear weapons states to make real commitments to the implementation of Article VI of the NPT - and we think the NWC is a fundamental step forward in that direction."//

Every year since 1996 resolutions in favor of a Nuclear Weapons Convention have been adopted at the UN General Assembly with large majorities, most notably with the support of some States that currently possess nuclear weapons such as India, Pakistan, China and North Korea. The refusal of the other NWS and some of their allies to engage in multilateral negotiations for a total ban of nuclear weapons, as is required under Article VI of the NPT, has plunged the NPT into a deep crisis.

Angelica Beer, Greens/EFA Germany, member EP Subcommittee on Security and Defense added: "Only a serious commitment to disarmament provides the moral ground for demanding non-proliferation from others"

However, there is a new political opportunity to initiate such negotiations with US Presidential candidates supporting the vision of a nuclear weapons free world, the recent establishment by Australia of an International Commission on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, and the re-invigorating of the Seven Nation Initiative for nuclear disarmament by the government of Norway.

Thus it is time for the European parliament and European countries to support this bold vision and take action to ensure its enactment, prompted by parliamentarians - the democratic voice of the people.

This event was part of an international conference in the EP marking the 40th anniversary of the NPT. The events are organized by PNND, Mayors for Peace, Abolition 2000 Europe, International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, CNAPD and Greenpeace.

Note:
(1) Costa Rica submission to United Nations and NPT PrepCom www.2020visioncampaign.org/pages/337/

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