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“A clear signal”

26.03.2012 - Interview

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expects the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit to result in a clear commitment to further reducing nuclear risks. He also stressed that Iran must use the opportunity to resume serious, substantive talks on its nuclear programme.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expects the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit to result in a clear commitment to further reducing nuclear risks. He also stressed that Iran must use the opportunity to resume serious, substantive talks on its nuclear programme. Published in the Frankfurter Rundschaunewspaper on 26 March 2012

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US President Barack Obama put defence against nuclear risks on the international agenda by hosting the first Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. Indeed, it was even earlier, in a major speech in Prague in 2009, that he formulated his goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, a goal shared by the German Government, as a means of promoting nuclear security. Today and tomorrow, representatives of more than 50 states will gather in Seoul to review the progress made so far.

The German Government is actively involved in reducing nuclear risks. Disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are a top priority of German foreign policy. The uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear material is a major security risk and must be prevented. If nuclear weapons were to fall into terrorists’ hands, they would pose a lethal threat both to international security and our own national security. Germany therefore advocates increasing the capabilities and authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the guardian of the international non-proliferation regime. The goal is to create a trustworthy global nuclear security architecture.

Germany contributes nearly 5 million euro to the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund, making it one of the biggest donors to the fund. This money is used to safeguard particularly dangerous, highly radioactive sources from unauthorized access and misuse. At the Summit, I will suggest that highly radioactive sources in other countries are entered into a centralized register and safeguarded, as they are in Germany, and that the IAEA’s recommendations on the safety and security of radioactive materials are implemented in yet more states. More than a dozen countries attending the Summit have already indicated that they support this approach.

However, preventive security policy in the nuclear realm also requires the firm suppression of the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and progress on nuclear disarmament in order to lastingly reduce the risks presented by nuclear weapons.

Since 2002 Germany has made available over 850 million euro under the G8 Global Partnership to destroy or secure nuclear weapons material, chemical weapons and other dangerous remnants from the Cold War. This is money that is directly invested in our security.

Especially in Seoul, only 50 km from the demarcation line between South Korea and North Korea, which is working on developing atomic weapons, the dangers of nuclear proliferation are almost tangible. While North Korea’s announcement in late February that it would curtail its enrichment activities and its temporary halt to nuclear tests are positive signals, they must be measured against North Korea’s real actions.

Iran, too, has to allay the legitimate doubts of the international community about the real purpose of its nuclear programme in a convincing manner. Germany is campaigning with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council for a diplomatic and political solution. I call on Iran to use the opportunity to resume serious and substantive talks on its nuclear programme. Iran expressly has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but it also has the duty to forgo nuclear armament. This is not just an issue that affects the stability of Israel and the region. It is an issue that affects international security.

The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1887 at a historic session led by Barack Obama in September 2009. This Resolution expressed the Security Council’s determination to establish the conditions for a world free of nuclear weapons. In 2010 the Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty endorsed the aim of a world free of nuclear weapons. Together we have adopted a comprehensive working programme on nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the responsible use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. With Australia, Japan and other dedicated countries, Germany is working under the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) for the rigorous implementation of this working programme. We also all advocate the inclusion of tactical nuclear weapons in the international disarmament efforts.

I expect the Seoul Summit to result in a clear commitment to further reducing nuclear risks. From our point of view it is clear that a “yes” to nuclear security also means a “yes” to nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. What is at stake is our common security.

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