2003 World Conference against A & H Bombs - Hiroshima
August 6, 2003

Karl Leifland
Minister, Embassy of Sweden, Tokyo


Mr. Mayor,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

To begin with I'd like to draw your attention to the personal message of support to this Conference from Prime Minister Goran Person expressing Sweden's long-standing policy of working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.

I will briefly outline the efforts that Sweden and the other countries in the so-called New Agenda Coalition are making towards a world free from nuclear weapons. It carries a special and very humbling significance to do so here in Hiroshima, a victim of the horrors of nuclear weapons but at the same time a city that embodies the hope for a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.

The New Agenda Coalition was formed five years ago in the lead-up to the 2000 review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its purpose was to inject new life into the attempts to achieve nuclear disarmament. The members of the group are Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, and Sweden. The objective of the group is the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. We take as our departure both the moral imperative of the elimination of nuclear weapons as well as international law:

Firstly, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which in 1995 was edtended indefinitely. At that time the review process of the Treaty was strengthened and objectives and principles for its implementation adopted;

Secondly, in 1996 the International Court of Justice handed down a unanimous advisory opinion, which concluded that there is an obligation to nuclear disarmament.

The New Agenda Coalition was formed against the backdrop of a number of serious setbacks in the non-proliferation field. These included, but were not confined to:

  1. North Korea, which today more than ever stands out as a major problem. North Korea is and has been in clear violation of its international obligations;

  2. the nuclear weapons tests by India and Pakistan;

  3. the failure to ratify the nuclear test-ban treaty (CTBT) by major powers, in particular the US and China;

  4. the nuclear dangers in the Middle East.
Regrettably, these and other concerns remain essentially unchanged.

What the New Agenda Coalition proposed was a road map of concrete measures with the ultimate aim of achieving a nuclear-weapons-free world. It met with strong support from other non-nuclear states and NGO's.

Among the proposals that The New Agenda Coalition put forth were:

  1. a call for an unequivocal commitment from the nuclear weapon states to fulfill their obligations to disarm and eventually eliminate their nuclear weapons;

  2. a call upon the nuclear weapons capable states - India, Israel and Pakistan - to enter the Test Ban Treaty on a speedy basis;

  3. a call upon the nuclear weapon states to de-alert and de-activate their nuclear weapons and to remove non-strategic nuclear weapons from deployment sites;

  4. a call for an international ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive device, a so-called cut-off treaty.
The outcome of the NPT Review Conference in the spring of 2000 was a positive development and inspired hope. The appeal made by the New Agenda Coalition was largely reflected in the final outcome o the conference. The result showed the importance of consistent work focussed on clear and realistic goals. Sweden is proud to have contributed to this.

At the Conference, the five nuclear weapons states were naturally those who made the most important commitments. A major step forward was te "unequivocal undertaking" to achieve a total elimination of nuclear weapons.

Many of these steps inline with the suggestions made by the New Agenda Coalition. Sweden also in particular values the promise made by the nuclear weapon states to reduce the number of non-strategic nuclear weapons - there are large numbers of tactical nuclear weapons close to our country.

However, since the review Conference few concrete advances have been made. For instance:

One welcome development is the US and Russia's agreement to reduce the number of strategic warheads from approximately 6000 to somewhere between 1700 and 2200. This is definitely a step in the right direction. However, it is important that these weapons are in fact dismantled and not simply put in storage.

It is no secret that the hope and expectations raised at the2000 Review Conference have to a certain extent been dashed. However, it would be hasty to draw any far-reaching conclusions or lose faith. Despite the misgivings one might have it's important to keep in mind that the road to nuclear disarmament will be long and difficult. And despite the shortcomings of the NPT process one mustn't lost sight of its intrinsic value. The fact that only a handful of states possess nuclear weapons is probably to a large extent attributable to the NPT. A useful reminder is that in the 1960's it was speculated that around the year 2000 there would be somewhere between 20-30 nuclear weapon states. Fortunately this scenario has not materialized.

As you know, in 2005 a new review Conference of the NPT will take place and in April last year preparations started at the United Nations headquarters in New York. So far work has been reasonably successful but much effort will be needed to give new impetus to the disarmament process. Focus should be on consolidating the results of the 2000 Review Conference. The commitments and promises made there must be fulfilled. In particular, the nuclear weapon states must show they are ready to take action. For Sweden the results of the 2000 review Conference will be the point of reference. The thirteen steps which were agreed are in fact the requisite blueprint to achieve nuclear disarmament. We will pursue this in a spirit of good faith and in cooperation with others, including of course our partners in the New Agenda Coalition.