The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament today welcomed the call from a group of top level German political figures – including a former Chancellor, President and Foreign Minister – for urgent practical steps to be taken towards a nuclear-free world.
The article, published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the International Herald Tribune takes up the theme of that written in 2007 by Henry Kissinger and other former US Secretaries of State and Defence, and the equivalent UK initiative by Malcolm Rifkind, Douglas Hurd, David Owen and George Robertson.
The authors, who span the political spectrum, are Helmut Schmidt, Social Democrat, who was Chancellor 1974-1982, Richard von Weizsäcker, a Christian Democrat who was President of the Federal Republic from 1984-1994, Egon Bahr, a minister in Social Democratic governments who was an architect of the policy of “ostpolitik” and Hans-Dietrich Genscher, of the Free Democrats (Liberals), who was Foreign Minister 1974-1992.
Coming only days before the inauguration of President-elect Obama, the statement is indicative of the hope that the new US administration will translate the reinvigorated diplomatic interest in urgent action against nuclear weapons, typified by the Kissinger position, into concrete political results.
The German statesmen say “The vision of a world free of the nuclear threat, as developed by Reagan and Gorbachev in Reykjavik, must be rekindled. Negotiations aimed at drastically reducing the number of nuclear weapons must begin, initially between the US and Russia, the countries with the largest number of warheads, in order to win over the other countries possessing such weapons. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) must be greatly reinforced. America should ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) [and] all short-range nuclear weapons must be destroyed.” They also call for the US nuclear weapons, currently stored in Germany and several other European states, to be withdrawn.
Also, aiming at Obama, who is undecided on whether to push forward with the deeply controversial and destabilising plans for a missile defence system, they call the scrapping the system and a return to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which for three decades prevented exactly the sort of arms race Bush has sparked by the US’s withdrawal from it in 2001. The op-ed says the security of post-Cold War Europe would “be jeopardized for the first time by the American desire to station missiles and a radar system on extra-territorial bases in Poland and the Czech Republic, on NATO’s eastern border. A return to the era of confrontation, leading to a new arms race and tension, can be best avoided by an agreement on missile defence which also serves the interests of NATO and the EU, i.e. a restored ABM Treaty”.
Kate Hudson, Chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said, “We warmly welcome this statement, which shows the ever-broadening interest in getting multilateral disarmament firmly back on the international agenda. The eight years of the Bush presidency have squandered precious time to put the world on a course towards global abolition. Now we need Obama to set a clear agenda of cuts in the US warhead stockpile and begin discussions with Russia on parallel moves. The German statesmen recognise that without the scrapping of the Missile Defence system, none of this will prove possible – we’ve seen the promise of Obama, but the coming weeks must translate that into action with an end to the fantasy of the ‘son of Star Wars’ programme.”
CND are hosting a conference, ‘Europe Against US Missile Defence’ from 10am-5pm on Saturday 31st January at SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, London WC1. Speakers will include a parliamentary representative of the German Social Democrats, as well as MPs from the UK, Poland and the Czech Republic. Registration is free – contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors:For further information and interviews please contact Ben Soffa, CND’s Press Officer, on 0207 7002350 or 07968 420859
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) is one of Europe’s biggest single-issue peace campaigns, with over 35,000 members in the UK. CND campaigns for the abolition of all nuclear weapons everywhere.