Foreign Ministers Call for Disarmament

Robert Golan-Vilella

The foreign ministers of 10 countries called for the world to speed up its progress in eliminating nuclear weapons and made a series of proposals toward that end in an April 30 joint statement in Berlin.

The 10 countries—Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates—said in their statement that they “consider it urgent to reduce nuclear risks and achieve tangible progress on the path towards a world free of nuclear weapons.” The statement by the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, as the group is called, is its second; the first came last September on the sidelines of a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

In Berlin, the ministers said that if the Conference on Disarmament (CD) is unable to begin negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) in its 2011 session, they will ask the General Assembly “to address the issue and consider ways to proceed with the aim of beginning negotiations.” The 65-nation CD operates by consensus. Since it agreed in May 2009 to a work plan that included negotiating an FMCT, objections from Pakistan have blocked the start of negotiations.

On the subject of transparency, the foreign ministers announced that they were “developing a draft of a standard reporting form” that nuclear-weapon states could use to disclose information on the status of their nuclear stockpiles. The ministers invited the nuclear-weapon states to examine this proposal in June, when those countries are scheduled to meet in Paris to discuss nuclear transparency and ways to verify additional arms reductions. (See ACT, March 2011.)