Working to strengthen nuclear disarmament, also in times of crisis – a virtual meeting of the Stockholm Initiative
Foreign Minister Heike Maas during the virtual meeting of the Stockholm Initiative, © Thomas Koehler/photothek.de
In a video conference held today at the invitation of Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, the 16 members of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament discussed how they intend to work together to strengthen nuclear disarmament, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nuclear arms control architecture is in crisis. Last year the United States terminated the INF Treaty after repeated Russian violations; in 2018 the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; in 2019 Iran began violating key elements of the Vienna nuclear agreement; and North Korea conducts missile tests on a regular basis.
Reversing the negative trend in disarmament
To counteract these developments, Sweden last year established the Stockholm Initiative, which 15 other countries have meanwhile joined. It aims to inject fresh practical impetus into nuclear disarmament and to strengthen dialogue between nuclear-weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states. In February, Foreign Minister Maas hosted a follow-up meeting in Berlin, at which members drew up 22 specific proposals to breathe new life into the nuclear arms control architecture.
Foreign Minister Maas:
We must therefore do everything in our power to overcome the impasse on nuclear disarmament. We cannot wait for the eye of the storm before we wake up; we have to act together now.
Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty
At the heart of the nuclear order lies the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be marking its 50th anniversary this year. The Treaty should be undergoing its periodic review in 2020. Due to the pandemic, however, the Review Conference needed to be rescheduled.
Today, Foreign Ministers discussed how they can make efficient use of the additional time ahead of the new date. Gustavo Zlauvinen, president designate of the Review Conference, also participated in the virtual meeting. Foreign Ministers and Zlauvinen talked about how the international community can use the Review Conference to make the treaty fit for the future. Jordan also offered to host another Stockholm Initiative ministerial meeting.
Foreign Minister Maas:
Only by combining our strength and building mutual trust can we make progress towards global zero – a world free of nuclear weapons.