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The United States is pushing Norway

The US is pushing its allies to prevent support for a nuclear weapons ban, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo. "They want to stifle the proposal at birth," says No to the Nuclear Weapons.


US diplomats have put pressure on the Norwegian authorities and other allies to prevent a ban on nuclear weapons from becoming a reality. This was reported by the Japanese news agency Kyodo on Friday 13 March. Since December, Austria and the international disarmament movement have been working for an international ban on nuclear weapons. In February, representatives of the US government reportedly called on Japan to steer clear of Austria's initiative. US authorities have also "urged some NATO members, including Norway, not to support the Austrian initiative," according to Kyodo, which relies on sources in the Japanese foreign service. When asked by Ny Tid, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bård Glad Pedersen (H) will not deny the allegations from Kyodo. "Several allied countries have formally and informally raised the matter with the Norwegian authorities. This is not surprising. Advocating for a ban on nuclear weapons would be contrary to our NATO commitments. The government has also been clear about this, "Pedersen says in an e-mail.

According to sources Ny Tid has been in contact with in Japan, the Japanese authorities in this case have followed the contact between the United States and their allies very closely, due to Norway's previous involvement in the nuclear weapons case. Therefore, sources in Japanese diplomacy have also been able to observe what is referred to as "pressure from American representatives" on Norway.

Abandoned driver's seat. In 2013, Norway was among the initiators of the "humanitarian initiative", a new approach that brought a greater focus on the human impact of nuclear weapons. The initiative has been strengthened and continued through a series of conferences on this theme, and the Prohibition Initiative was launched during the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in December 2014. Austria is behind the initiative, urging all states to "fill the legal void to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons." So far, 50 countries have joined what is now called "the Austrian pledge" ("Austria's pledge" ), but no NATO countries have so far opened to support the initiative. In May this year, state leaders from all over the world will meet for an oversight conference to discuss the non-proliferation agreement of 1970 (NPT). Prohibition work is taking place outside the NPT framework, but it is expected that Austria and its supporters will use the conference to push nuclear power into a more offensive disarmament policy. 

Leader of No to Nuclear Weapons, Anne Gerd Grimsby Haarr, is not surprised that the United States is now putting diplomacy in motion to prevent a separate ban on nuclear weapons. "They are trying to stifle the proposal at birth. The humanitarian initiative has overturned the international debate on nuclear weapons. Now it is no longer just the nuclear powers that control the debate, "Haarr told Ny Tid. All nuclear powers have so far rejected the demands for a ban. However, it attracted attention when the United States and the United Kingdom chose to attend the Vienna conference in December. Haarr was nevertheless not encouraged by the signals from the British and American envoys. "They wanted to downplay the humanitarian and prohibition initiatives, including calling it a distraction and a gimmick," Haarr said.

Possible majority. Although Norway was at the forefront of the humanitarian initiative in 2013, the Norwegian government would not commit to a ban. Following the Vienna Conference, Bård Glad Pedersen, State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (H), expressed concern that such work could weaken long-term disarmament work. "The Non-Proliferation Agreement is the overall framework for disarmament and non-proliferation work, and we place great emphasis on avoiding weakening of this crucial platform," Pedersen told Klassekampen in December.

"The humanitarian initiative has overturned the international debate on nuclear weapons"
Anne Gerd Grimsby Haarr, No to Nuclear Weapons

Recently, however, the fronts have hardened in the Norwegian debate, and the opposition has accused the government of being defensive in disarmament policy. Thursday 12. In March, the SV, the Center Party and the Liberal Party submitted a proposal to the Storting to join Austria's initiative. At the time, Foreign Minister Børge Brende felt that such a ban would be contrary to Norway's obligations to NATO. "It is still part of NATO's strategy for the Alliance to have nuclear weapons as long as there are nuclear weapons. Therefore, adopting a ban is not in line with NATO's policy, "the Foreign Minister said in a statement on Thursday.

Foreign Terminal. No to Nuclear Weapons believes that Brende is wrong when it comes to the NATO issue. Anne Gerd Grimsby Haarr points out that the NATO strategy is a political, not a legal, document. Nor does the non-proliferation agreement prevent such a ban. "On the other hand, an international ban can help fulfill the non-proliferation agreement," Haarr says. With the proposal of representatives, the government can get into a foreign policy squeeze. Both the Labor Party and the Krf have opened to join the prohibition initiative. With that, a majority in the Storting could demand a change of course by the government in an area where it has traditionally had the right to govern.

The parliamentary representative for SV Bård Vegar Solhjell, who was one of the initiators of a ban in the Storting, nevertheless believes that the government will have to follow up the work on a ban on the parliamentary majority giving its support. "Of course, this is what the Americans will disagree with. However, Norway has defied the United States in such cases before, for example, while working on a ban on cluster weapons. That initiative did no lasting damage to our relationship with the United States, ”says Solhjell. Haarr and No to the Atomic Arms hope that the Storting will at least push forward an offensive from the government team. "We hope it will challenge the government to be offensive in the work for a ban," Haarr said.

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