Nuke Ban: Former Statesmen, et al Promoting

Open Letter in Support of the
2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Under embargo until 21 September 2020, 00:00 UTC

This open letter in support of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has
been signed by 56 former presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and defence
ministers from 20 NATO member states, as well as Japan and South Korea. All of these
states currently claim protection from US nuclear weapons and have not yet joined the
treaty. The letter will be sent to the current leaders of these states. The co-signers include
the former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and two former NATO secretaries-general,
Javier Solana and Willy Claes.

The coronavirus pandemic has starkly demonstrated the urgent need for greater international
cooperation to address all major threats to the health and welfare of humankind. Paramount
among them is the threat of nuclear war. The risk of a nuclear weapon detonation today —
whether by accident, miscalculation or design — appears to be increasing, with the recent
deployment of new types of nuclear weapons, the abandonment of longstanding arms control
agreements, and the very real danger of cyber-attacks on nuclear infrastructure. Let us heed
the warnings of scientists, doctors and other experts. We must not sleepwalk into a crisis of
even greater proportions than the one we have experienced this year.

It is not difficult to foresee how the bellicose rhetoric and poor judgment of leaders in
nuclear-armed nations might result in a calamity affecting all nations and peoples. As past
leaders, foreign ministers and defence ministers of Albania, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, the
Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the
Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey —
all countries that claim protection from an ally’s nuclear weapons — we appeal to current
leaders to advance disarmament before it is too late. An obvious starting point for the leaders
of our own countries would be to declare without qualification that nuclear weapons serve no
legitimate military or strategic purpose in light of the catastrophic human and environmental
consequences of their use. In other words, our countries should reject any role for nuclear
weapons in our defence.

By claiming protection from nuclear weapons, we are promoting the dangerous and
misguided belief that nuclear weapons enhance security. Rather than enabling progress
towards a world free of nuclear weapons, we are impeding it and perpetuating nuclear
dangers — all for fear of upsetting our allies who cling to these weapons of mass destruction.
But friends can and must speak up when friends engage in reckless behavior that puts their
lives and ours in peril.

Without doubt, a new nuclear arms race is under way, and a race for disarmament is urgently
needed. It is time to bring the era of reliance on nuclear weapons to a permanent end. In
2017, 122 countries took a courageous but long-overdue step in that direction by adopting the
Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons — a landmark global accord that places nuclear
weapons on the same legal footing as chemical and biological weapons and establishes a
framework to eliminate them verifiably and irreversibly. Soon it will become binding
international law.

To date, our countries have opted not to join the global majority in supporting this treaty. But
our leaders should reconsider their positions. We cannot afford to dither in the face of this
existential threat to humanity. We must show courage and boldness — and join the treaty. As
states parties, we could remain in alliances with nuclear-armed states, as nothing in the treaty
itself nor in our respective defence pacts precludes that. But we would be legally bound
never under any circumstances to assist or encourage our allies to use, threaten to use or
possess nuclear weapons. Given the very broad popular support in our countries for
disarmament, this would be an uncontroversial and much-lauded move.

The prohibition treaty is an important reinforcement to the half-century-old Non-Proliferation
Treaty, which, though remarkably successful in curbing the spread of nuclear weapons to
more countries, has failed to establish a universal taboo against the possession of nuclear
weapons. The five nuclear-armed nations that had nuclear weapons at the time of the NPT’s
negotiation — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — apparently view it as a
licence to retain their nuclear forces in perpetuity. Instead of disarming, they are investing
heavily in upgrades to their arsenals, with plans to retain them for many decades to come.
This is patently unacceptable.

The prohibition treaty adopted in 2017 can help end decades of paralysis in disarmament. It is
a beacon of hope in a time of darkness. It enables countries to subscribe to the highest
available multilateral norm against nuclear weapons and build international pressure for
action. As its preamble recognizes, the effects of nuclear weapons “transcend national
borders, pose grave implications for human survival, the environment, socioeconomic
development, the global economy, food security and the health of current and future
generations, and have a disproportionate impact on women and girls, including as a result of
ionizing radiation”.

With close to 14,000 nuclear weapons located at dozens of sites across the globe and on
submarines patrolling the oceans at all times, the capacity for destruction is beyond our
imagination. All responsible leaders must act now to ensure that the horrors of 1945 are never
repeated. Sooner or later, our luck will run out — unless we act. The nuclear weapon ban
treaty provides the foundation for a more secure world, free from this ultimate menace. We
must embrace it now and work to bring others on board. There is no cure for a nuclear war.
Prevention is our only option.

Signed by:
Lloyd AXWORTHY
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
BAN Ki-moon
Former Secretary-General of the United Nations and Minister of Foreign Affairs of South Korea
Jean-Jacques BLAIS
Former Minister of National Defence of Canada
Kjell Magne BONDEVIK
Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
Ylli BUFI
Former Prime Minister of Albania
Jean CHRÉTIEN
Former Prime Minister of Canada
Willy CLAES
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and Secretary General of NATO
Erik DERYCKE
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
Joschka FISCHER
Former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany
Franco FRATTINI
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Vice-President of the European Commission
Ingibjörg Sólrún GÍSLADÓTTIR
Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland
Bjørn Tore GODAL
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of Norway
Bill GRAHAM
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence of Canada
HATOYAMA Yukio
Former Prime Minister of Japan
Thorbjørn JAGLAND
Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
Ljubica JELUŠIČ
Former Minister of Defence of Slovenia
3
Tālavs JUNDZIS
Former Minister of Defence of Latvia
Jan KAVAN
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and President of the UN General Assembly
Alojz KRAPEŽ
Former Minister of Defence of Slovenia
Ģirts Valdis KRISTOVSKIS
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defence, and Minister of the Interior of Latvia
Aleksander KWAŚNIEWSKI
Former President of Poland
Yves LETERME
Former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium
Enrico LETTA
Former Prime Minister of Italy
Eldbjørg LØWER
Former Minister of Defence of Norway
Mogens LYKKETOFT
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
John McCALLUM
Former Minister of National Defence of Canada
John MANLEY
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada
Rexhep MEIDANI
Former President of Albania
Zdravko MRŠIĆ
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Croatia
Linda MŪRNIECE
Former Minister of Defence of Latvia
Fatos NANO
Former Prime Minister of Albania
Holger K. NIELSEN
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
Andrzej OLECHOWSKI
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
4
Kjeld OLESEN
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence of Denmark
Ana de PALACIO Y DEL VALLE-LERSUNDI
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
Theodoros PANGALOS
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece
Jan PRONK
Former Minister of Defence (Ad Interim) and Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands
Vesna PUSIĆ
Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia
Dariusz ROSATI
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland
Rudolf SCHARPING
Former Federal Minister of Defence of Germany
Juraj SCHENK
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovakia
Nuno SEVERIANO TEIXEIRA
Former Minister of National Defense of Portugal
Jóhanna SIGURÐARDÓTTIR
Former Prime Minister of Iceland
Össur SKARPHÉÐINSSON
Former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland
Javier SOLANA
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and Secretary General of NATO
Anne-Grete STRØM-ERICHSEN
Former Minister of Defence of Norway
Hanna SUCHOCKA
Former Prime Minister of Poland
SZEKERES Imre
Former Minister of Defense of Hungary
TANAKA Makiko
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan
TANAKA Naoki
Former Minister of Defense of Japan
5
Danilo TÜRK
Former President of Slovenia
Hikmet Sami TÜRK
Former Minister of National Defense of Turkey
John N. TURNER
Former Prime Minister of Canada
Guy VERHOFSTADT
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Knut VOLLEBÆK
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway
Carlos WESTENDORP Y CABEZA
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
Media inquiries: Beatrice Fihn (press@icanw.org, +41 78 613 04 72, Geneva)
Tim Wright, tim@icanw.org, +61 400 967 233 (Melbourne)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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