Harmful for Norway to boycott UN talks on nuclear weapons

UN UN.Photo: Sara Johannessen / SCANPIX .

Norway’s lack of participation in UN negotiations to ban nuclear weapons is unscrupulous and dangerous, believes disarmament leader, Grethe Østern, of Norsk Folkehjelp (Norwegian People’s Aid).

On Monday, the UN is set for negotiations on a treaty banning nuclear weapons at the UN headquarters in New York. Norway, which (together with 27 other NATO countries) voted against the proposal on a new agreement, will not participate in the negotiations.

‘The government’s boycott of UN negotiations are unscrupulous, dangerous and potentially a violation of non-proliferation as stated in Article VI of the UN’s non-proliferation treaty, which commits all states to negotiate effective measures that will lead to nuclear disarmament and an end to the nuclear arms race’, says disarmament political leader, Grethe Østern, who is participating in the negotiations.

She said that until Monday arrives, it is uncertain which countries will participate.

In late October, the vast majority of countries in the United Nations voiced a desire to launch negotiations on a new treaty banning nuclear weapons. The resolution was adopted, with 123 votes in favour of negotiations, and 38 against, with 16 countries abstaining.

Four out of five members of the UN Security Council nuclear powers, Britain, France, Russia and the United States voted against,while China abstained. So did India and Pakistan.

Japan, which has long fought against the use of nuclear weapons, voted against, as did South Korea, living with a nuclear threat from North Korea.

Grethe Østern believes that the forthcoming UN talks have revealed countries like Norway, Australia and Canada, which were previously seen as supporters of disarmament, to be a significant part of the problem.

‘Norway supports the United States as legitimate in what is now a desperate struggle to retain nuclear weapons, because it believes that nuclear deterrence gives us security’, commented Østern.

Secretary of State, Marit Berger Røsland, thinks that the current security landscape doesn’t justify a ban.

‘An international ban on nuclear weapons without the participation of the nuclear weapons states would not bring us closer to a world without weapons’, said Røsland to NTB news agency.

She pointed out that no NATO country supported the proposal at the UN General Assembly last fall.

‘Norway and our allies have an aim for a world without nuclear weapons, but as long as others have nuclear weapons, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance’, she emphasised.
In a press release from the United States, the UN Secretariat announced on Saturday that the North American UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, is going to hold a press conference in protest against the negotiations.

It is unknown whether Norway will participate. The press conference will be held outside the negotiating premises at 16.00 Norwegian time, andHaley will work with other countries.

‘This is odd behaviour. I have hoped for the longest time that Norway won’t attend a press conference where they protest against the negotiations for nuclear disarmament.

Parliament has been clear that Norway should have a proactive role when it comes to disarmament’, said Frode Ersfjord, CEO of ‘Nei til atomvåpen’.

The first round of negotiations will be held until the 31st of March. The second round of UN negotiations, are planned to take place from the 15th of June to 7th of July.


Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today