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Monday, 15. July 2024

Nuclearisation in Europe and the Middle East

From threat to preventive action

Nuclearisation in Europe and the Middle East – From threat to preventive action - Concluding Statement

Avoiding another war in Iran - a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East - Nuclear weapon free zone in Europe - Strengthening the NPT

Upon invitation of the Swiss chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW, Nobel peace prize 1985), an international conference on the topic of “Nuclearisation in Europe and the Middle East” took place on Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland from March 22nd to 25th 2007.

In a time of high international tension in the Middle East, participants focused on the absolute necessity for high-level constructive dialogue between all the parties. Respect for mutual fears as well as the overcoming of misunderstandings due to cultural and historical differences should inherently be part of such dialogue. It is feared that threatening arguments on both sides could lead to escalation. A preemptive strike policy and the use of military force however, would have catastrophic consequences for the local population. Moreover, it would have serious political repercussions, promote nuclear proliferation and further destabilise the entire region. The world needs a stable Iran, just as Iran needs cooperation with the rest of the international community.

One feasible way to stabilise the region would be the establishment of a nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ), an idea proposed by Iran and Egypt in 1974 and discussed repeatedly and promoted in the United Nations and Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conferences. It was noted that a single leading country, even a single city could stimulate a NWFZ in the Middle East. In order to guarantee that the nuclear weapons states respect the provisions of the NWFZ, consultations are required. Even if only a symbolic act initially, it could bring about a new situation and break the political deadlock. Obviously, such a zone must eventually cover the entire Middle East.

NATO`s nuclear doctrine includes optional first use of nuclear weapons and their stationing in European non-nuclear weapon states. This doctrine was questioned, as it is based on a strategic concept which may be detrimental to European security. It is considered that nuclear weapons on European territory nowadays cannot be justified. In the interest of new thinking on security in Europe and a doctrine change, the voice of Non Nuclear Weapon states (NNWS) of the NATO alliance should be heard more often, and public opposition to nuclear weapons respected. A NWFZ in Europe would be a significant step towards a nuclear weapon free world.

Finally, participants discussed the ever important role of the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its verification functions. The danger of a further erosion of the NPT, due to the worrisome absence of progress in nuclear disarmament by non-fulfillment of the nuclear weapon states obligations with article VI, was emphasised. The NNWS should play a stronger role in the implementation and evolution of the NPT, particularly prior to the next review conference in 2010. In this context, discussions between representatives of the NNWS, IPPNW, the Inter- national Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) and the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation (INESAP) were proposed.

Ascona, march 24th 2007

Signed by

Andreas Nidecker, Professor of Radiology, Basel, Switzerland

Günter Baitsch, Internal Medicine, Basel, Switzerland

Martin Walter, Internal Medicine, Grenchen, Switzerland

Arthur Muhl, Chiropractor, Au, Switzerland

Urs Peter Frey, General Medicine, St. Gallen, Switzerland

Claudio Knüsli, Basel, President PSR/IPPNW Switzerland

Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Artist, Switzerland

Saideh Lotfian, Professor of Law, Tehran, Iran

Ronnee Jaeger, Bat Shalom, Israel

Gunnar Westberg Co-President IPPNW, Sweden

Esther R. Suter, Pastor, Switzerland

Trygve Berge, medical student / Editor IPPNW Norway Magazine

Margret Johannsen, Peace Researcher, Hamburg, Germany

Frida Sundberg, President SLMK (IPPNW Sweden), Sweden

Klas Lundius, Director SLMK (IPPNW Sweden), Sweden

Herman Spanjaard, Former Vice President Europe IPPNW, Netherlands

Alyn Ware, Global Coordinator, Parliamentary Network for Nuclear

Disarmament, New Zealand

Marianne Baitsch, Nurse, Switzerland

Mina Ennasri, Psychotherapeute Etudiante, IPPNW France

André Michel, Medical Student, MedAction Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

Marcela Fejgl, Pathologist, Sion, Switzerland

Gert Harigel, Senior Physicist emerit. CERN, Geneva, Switzerland