Joint declaration by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs by Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden:
9th June 1998
This is a very exciting new initiative to get a Nuclear Weapons convention onto the international agenda. It had been in preparation for some time, but it has been given greater urgency by the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests.
The statement was launched in Dublin a few days before the Birmingham G8 meeting. It calls strongly for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons and outlines specific steps nuclear weapons countries should take immediately, including de-alerting and removal of non-strategic nuclear weapons from deployed sites.
At the Dublin launch, David Andrews, Irish Foreign Minister, said “States such as Ireland — eager to grasp the opportunity offered by the end of the Cold War — have proposed ambitious programmes for the achievement of a world without nuclear weapons. Given the complacency of the nuclear weapons states and their lack of urgency, the results have been meagre and disappointing. It was in this pitiable and worrying environment that my colleagues and I decided that a new initiative had to be taken now if the prospect of the retention of nuclear weapons were not to continue for the indefinite future.
“The nuclear weapons states are required to eliminate their nuclear arsenals under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Their failure to fulfil their legally binding obligations under the Treaty is not the result of any inadequacy of the Treaty itself. It is the result of the lack of political will.
“Today’s initiative is about securing that political will and putting in motion the action which will necessarily follow, so that in a few short years we will have consigned nuclear weapons to history.”
Britain and its nuclear allies are in a minority on the international stage, and it is good to be reminded of this.
(Copies of the complete declaration are available upon request.)
Many thanks to the team who staffed a WDC/CND stall at Merton College on June 20th and raised a further £50 towards our funds.
Dorothy and I had a very productive meeting with Wimbledon M.P. Roger Casale on June 13th. He gave us well over half an hour of his time at the beginning of what was obviously going to be a busy Saturday morning constituency surgery (we felt quite guilty when we saw the queues as we came out...) He listened courteously to what we had to say and asked for copies of some of the material which we had brought with us, including voting details from the U.N. General Assembly debate on disarmament last December when Britain voted against supporting the Malaysian resolution for a nuclear weapons convention.
We explained that we should be putting pressure on the Government to change the U.K. vote when a similar resolution is put at the end of this year, as part of the Abolition 2000 initiative, and that we hoped to have his support. We did not push him too hard to give a personal opinion because we appreciate that his position as a ‘new boy’ in the House of Commons is a delicate one, and accept his argument that he is more likely to build up a personal position of influence where it counts (i.e. on the Foreign Affairs Committee of which he is a member) if he uses a certain amount of discretion rather than overtly criticising the Government all the time.
He feels that after his first year in Parliament he has begun to earn the respect of his fellow M.P.s based on his knowledge and understanding of international affairs: our job is to keep him as well-briefed as possible.