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Norway must support the initiative to ban nuclear weapons

Everyone realizes that the path to a nuclear-weapon-free world is still long, but a prohibition on international law to create, store, threaten and use such weapons will put an end to nuclear rule over the nuclear weapons discourse.


In the Storting, parties SV, V and SP have now put forward a proposal asking the government to work for an international agreement banning nuclear weapons. Both KrF, MPG and AP have indicated that they support the proposal. Thus, a majority of the elected officials believe that Norway should continue to lead the fight against nuclear weapons. This year, it is 70 years since two US nuclear bombs immediately killed over one hundred thousand Japanese civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leaving at least as many injured and traumatized people. Up to our days, they have survivors – hibakusha – gave horrific testimony of the enormous and long-lasting suffering of such weapons. Although the abolition of nuclear weapons was the subject of the first resolution passed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946, a nightmarish arms race between the great powers later developed, culminating in a combined arsenal of over 70 nuclear warheads in the early 000s. At that time, the fear of nuclear war was beginning to feel, prompting hundreds of thousands to march in the streets and demand disarmament. This, along with the political relaxation, led to several important disarmament agreements between the US and the Soviet Union from the mid-1980s. The number of nuclear weapons dropped, but the number of nuclear powers increased. Today, there is less awareness of the nuclear threat, but there are still 1980 nuclear warheads in the world spread across nine countries, of which the United States and Russia account for over 16 percent. All nuclear weapons states spend huge sums on maintaining and upgrading their weapons systems. The Obama administration recently proposed modernizing the US nuclear weapons force for $ 000 billion over the next decade. Russia is engaged in similarly comprehensive investments. In other words, the world is moving into a new spiral of armament. We all remember the Cuban crisis in 90 when the world was on the brink of a wasting nuclear war. Less known are the many critical situations where the nuclear weapons alarm has gone because of technical or human failure. General Lee Butler, who was commander-in-chief of the US nuclear force in the early 1990s, has later said that the world has so far escaped a nuclear holocaust through a combination of skill, luck and divine intervention, and most of the latter. In recent decades, the greatest attention has been paid to the possibilities of spreading nuclear weapons to new countries or to terrorist groups. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) of 1970 has not prevented four new countries from acquiring nuclear weapons (Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea) in addition to the five original nuclear powers, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China. The NPT has also long been under pressure because the nuclear-weapon states do not follow up on their part of the agreement to disarm. The NPT is not only about preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, but commits all contracting countries to sincere negotiations on a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons with a view to their complete elimination. In the 45 years that have passed, not a single weapon has been removed as a result of such multilateral negotiations. There is also hardly any progress on the 64 points in the action plan from the supervisory conference for NPT in 2010, and there are low expectations for this year's supervisory conference. The Disarmament Conference (CD) in Geneva is also in full swing in its 17th year. Negotiations on an agreement to ban further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons have not yet started, 22 years after President Clinton proposed this. And the 1996 ceasefire agreement (CTBC) has not yet entered into force, because a few countries, including the United States, have not ratified the agreement. Atomic bombs are weapons of mass destruction aimed at the civilian population. They have hardly any military utility, but act as political weapons. The nuclear-weapon states claim that they need nuclear weapons to prevent others from using nuclear weapons against them, and NATO states in its strategic concept that the alliance must have nuclear weapons as long as others have them. But nuclear deterrence is not credible unless it has the will, means and systems in place to kill millions of people and turn cities into radioactive burial sites. Weapons on high alert also involve the risk of detonation by accident or misunderstanding.

Norway took an important initiative in 2012, and the world's attention is now focused on our response to Austria's promise.

A single atomic bomb can wipe out a big city. The explosion triggers heat like the sun, and storms like many tornadoes. The pressure wave shatters houses and shatters living life. Radioactive radiation kills both acutely, through radiation sickness in the following weeks and months, and in the development of cancer for many decades afterwards. New simulation studies show that even the use of less than one percent of the existing nuclear weapons arsenals will cause long-term environmental and climate effects, resulting in worldwide famine.   Atomic deterrence is a ruthless and impermissible gambling with life and the basis of life on earth. Elimination of nuclear weapons is therefore a humanitarian imperative. Every state has the right and duty to work for nuclear disarmament. Nevertheless, the established disarmament processes have not yielded any results in recent decades.

Everyone realizes that the path to a nuclear-weapon-free world is still long, but a prohibition on international law to create, store, threaten and use such weapons will put an end to nuclear rule over the nuclear weapons discourse.

In this situation, several humanitarian organizations and some countries have taken new initiatives under what is now called the humanitarian disarmament trail. The international Red Cross / Red Crescent Movement decided in 2011 to work for a ban under international law on nuclear weapons based on the disastrous humanitarian consequences of the weapons and the absence of sufficient preparedness to come to the rescue of the civilian population in the event of their use. In 2012, Norway initiated the first of three international state conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons: in Oslo in March 2013, in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014 and in Vienna, Austria in December 2014. The last conference brought together 158 countries and resulted in called the Austrian pledge (Austrian Pledge), where Austria promises to work with others to stigmatize, ban and abolish nuclear weapons. This will take place both in the established forums for nuclear disarmament, such as the NPT, but also by filling the gap in international law that the absence of a ban on nuclear weapons constitutes. Nuclear weapons are today the only weapons of mass destruction that are not explicitly prohibited under international law. The Convention on Biological Weapons entered into force in 1975, and the ban on chemical weapons in 1997. Landmines and cluster munitions were banned under binding agreements under international law in 1999 and 2010, respectively. The reasons for all these bans have been the weapons' unacceptable humanitarian consequences for the civilian population. It is a similar process that so far more than 50 countries that have joined Austria's promise, want to start for nuclear weapons. Everyone realizes that the road to a world free of nuclear weapons is still long, but a ban under international law on making, storing, threatening and using such weapons will set a new international norm and put an end to the nuclear powers' domination of the nuclear weapons discourse. Norway took an important initiative in 2012, and the world's attention is now focused on our response to Austria's promise. So far, Foreign Minister Brende has refused with reference to Norway's membership in NATO. But experts in international law claim that this does not prevent Norway from working for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In fact, a world free of nuclear weapons is NATO's own goal. A large majority of the population wants a ban on nuclear weapons. As mentioned in the introduction, a majority in the Storting also believes that Norway must continue to exercise leadership in a matter that is so crucial to humanity's continued existence. The government is wise to listen to the people and to the representatives of the people. Mæland is the leader of Norwegian doctors against nuclear weapons, and the chairman of the board of ICAN Norway.

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