Norsk Folkehjelp: Surprising criticism from Brende

Henriette Killi Westhrin Norsk FolkehjelpHenriette Killi Westhrin, Photo: Norsk Folkehjelp

Norsk Folkehjelp: Surprising criticism from Brende of Nuclear Ban Treaty

Norsk Folkehjelp (Press Release)On Friday, an overwhelming majority of UN member states agreed to ban nuclear weapons. Only minutes after the historic decision was made, the official reply from Norway came.


This will be a clear marking policy, and will not bring us closer to a world without nuclear weapons, according to the response from Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende.

It is disrespectful to characterize an agreement negotiated by 3/4 of UN member states as Brende did on Friday. By doing this, there is a clear signal that today’s Government does not want a nuclear-weapon-free world, but that in Norway we will continue to base our country’s defense on a prohibition of weapons of mass destruction, says Henriette Killi Westhrin, Secretary General of Norwegian People’s Aid (Norsk Folkehjelp), which is clear on that Norway must distance itself from nuclear deterrence within NATO.

150 of the UN member states have agreed to work out the agreement, including Sweden. Sweden voted for the agreement and justified this by not participating in the negotiations would be in breach of the obligations under the Non-Proliferation Agreement. The new prohibition treaty will put pressure on all nuclear weapons states – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – to work much harder for mutual and balanced disarmament.

Worse than the cold war

Norway, on its part, has boycotted the negotiations. Foreign Minister Brende argues that NATO will be weakened as a defense alliance if nuclear weapons are banned.

We have a situation in the world today where the danger of nuclear weapons is considered to be greater than during the Cold War. Then it goes without saying that it is directly irresponsible to attempt to weaken a UN agreement aimed at making nuclear weapons subject to condemnation rather than prestige, prevent further proliferation and accelerate disarmament, says Westhrin, who has followed the process in New York the last week.

The contradiction with Brende’s criticism of the nuclear weapons ban is that he acknowledges at the same time that nuclear weapons states do not do enough to reach the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes that “we must continue the pressure for new cuts” in the nuclear weapons arsenals.

Still possible to be partner with atomic powers

That is precisely what is the purpose of the ban Treaty. Instead of seeing the usefulness of this pressure, Brende chooses to attempt to weaken it. It’s irresponsible and dangerous, says Westhrin.

She believes Brende and his allies in the United States, Britain and France oppose the Nuclear Ban Treaty because they know how much influence the development of new norms has on international politics.

Brende is painfully aware that when this treaty comes into force, the defense of Norway and all other countries hiding under a nuclear weapons umbrella will be based on an illegal weapon. If NATO continues to attach importance to a weapon that violates international law, it may undoubtedly weaken NATO. Rather than criticizing the ban, it is therefore important that Norway, together with other NATO states, starts work on what the prohibition treaty means to us and how we can relate to it.

The Liberals and the Socialist Party

According to Westhrin, it is quite possible for Norway to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty, although some NATO countries; the United States, the United Kingdom and France have nuclear weapons.

The agreement contains no wording that limits the ability of state parties to be in military alliances with countries that have nuclear weapons. However, in order to sign, Norway must ensure that our national defense plans and security policies do not under any circumstances include or foresee an opportunity for other countries to use nuclear weapons on our behalf. With the exception of the government, only the Liberals and SV have commented on the prohibition decision. Now we hope more other parties will be on the ball and contribute to the debate in a more constructive direction than the Brende did last week.


© Norsk Folkehjelp / Norway Today