Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Den Haag
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Without any doubt, much has been achieved in the field of disarmament since the end of the Cold War. Nuclear arsenals have been reduced dramatically.
For sure, during the Cold War the danger of a global nuclear war was greater than today. But the threat posed by nuclear weapons has not diminished. Roughly 19,000 warheads remain. In fact, in the age of globalization, the risk that these weapons or nuclear material might fall into the wrong hands has increased.
Hence disarmament is not just a moral obligation. Common sense tells us that we must keep pressing for progress.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty is under considerable pressure. Unfortunately, no progress could be achieved at the last E3+3 meeting with Iran. Iran must now seriously address the latest proposal put forward by the E3+3 if the negotiation process is to have any chance of success.
North Korea’s inflammatory rhetoric is unacceptable as are its latest moves. The announcements to restart the Yongbyon reactor and shutting off the Kaesong industrial zone have heightened the tension.
It is of the utmost importance to remain level-headed in this difficult situation in order to enable de-escalation.
Disarmament and non-proliferation are two sides of the same coin. Our work is based on this insight. Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative has enriched the disarmament and non-proliferation landscape. Our guidance and advice is sought.
We are calling for progress in further reducing the role of nuclear weapons.
Even though we have made great headway in that respect, particularly in NATO, there is room for improvement here. We must strengthen the “nuclear taboo”.
We also very much welcome the fact that NPDI is putting the question of substrategic nuclear weapons on the Non-Proliferation Treaty agenda.
We are united by a strong interest in “Global Zero”. We should encourage creative ways to stimulate disarmament and arms control measures vis-à-vis the P5 and those states that still stand outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
It is time now to think about the road ahead to the next NPT Review Conference in 2015. The greatest challenge seems to be the postponed Conference on a Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East. We want the conference to take place as soon as possible and give all states in the region an incentive to participate. We should offer Facilitator Laajava our full support.
We also need to finally start negotiating the details of a Treaty banning the Production of Fissile Material. The Conference on Disarmament is still not functioning and unable to agree on a workprogramme. Despite all our frustrations, we want to keep it as the main international forum for disarmament.
NPDI is on the right track. It is already an important player in the fields of both disarmament and non-proliferation. We should start thinking about a moderate expansion of our membership.
Thank you very much.