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2000 World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs

2000 World Conference against A & H Bomb - Hiroshima
Special Program (1)

Cecilia Ruthstom-Ruin
First Secretary
Embassy of Sweden

1. Let me first express how grateful I am for this opportunity to give a presentation of Swedish policy for disarmament and non-proliferation here in Hiroshima, the very symbol of the global quest for a peaceful world free of nuclear weapons.

2. This conference takes place at a crucial moment in time. Over the past five years, there has been a number of serious setbacks in the nuclear disarmament process. However, the outcome of the NPT Review Conference this spring was a positive and gratifying development. A major step forward was taken when the nuclear weapon-states made an uneqivocal undertaking to achieve a total elimination of nuclear weapons. It was also important that the conference could agree on a number of principles and concrete steps toward that goal. Among these, Sweden values in particular the promise made by the nuclear weapon states to reduce the number of non-strategic nuclear weapons - there is a large quantity of tactical nuclear weapons close to our country.

3. I have been asked to comment in particular on the work of the so-called New Agenda Coalition, of which Sweden is one among seven partner states. The other members are Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa. The background of the NAC was a deep concern among these countries over the difficulties facing the nuclear disarmament process.

4. Everyone present here today knows all too well which difficulties and setbacks that I am referring to:

- The nuclear weapon test explosions carried out by India and Pakistan, which shocked the world two years ago and which have resulted in a deteriorating regional security situation in South Asia.
- The problems in East Asia, where North Korea continues to violate its NPT obligations and China has yet to ratify the CTBT.
- The US Senate decision not to ratify the CTBT and the American plans for a national missile defence system, which could help trigger a new nuclear missiles race.
- The nuclear dangers Middle East etc. etc. - I could go on even further.

5. Against this backdrop, the New Agenda initiative was launched in June 1998 in an effort to inject new political momentum into the disarmament process. The initiative met with strong support from other non-nuclear-weapon states and from the NGO community. In Sweden, the strong support also became evident by the very large number of positive reactions from individuals, through mail, e-mail and telephone calls to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

6. 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 included, i.a.:
- a call for an unequivocal commitment from the nuclear weapon states to fulfil their obligations to disarm and eventually eliminate their nuclear weapons;
- a call upon the nuclear weapons capable states India, Israel and Pakistan to enter the CTBT on a speedy basis;
- 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;
- a call for an international ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices (a so-called cut-off treaty).

7. While the serious nuclear threats remain, the NPT Conference this spring has somewhat brightened the gloomy picture. The positive results of the Conference were very much in line with the demands made by the New Agenda Coalition, and with goals that Sweden has been working for over many years. The outcome of the NPT showed the importance of consistent work focussed on clear and realistic goals. Sweden is very satisfied that the NAC-cooperation paid off and that the Coalition managed to play an important role in the negotiations on the final documents.

8. Now, it is our hope that the favourable outcome of the NPT will contribute to reversing the previous negative trend in the disarmament process. Focus should be on consolidating the results of the NPT. The commitments and promises made in the final documents must be fulfilled. In particular, the nuclear weapon states must show that they are ready to take action. They will be closely observed by all states, NGOs and individuals committed to disarmament. For Sweden, the results of the Review Conference will be the point of reference in our continued work for disarmament. We will strive towards realizing the NPT goals in cooperation with others, including, of course the NAC countries.

9. Finally, let me say a few words about another topic which I have been asked to comment on: the Swedish government's cooperations with NGOs in the field of disarmament.

The popular movement for disarmament has a long tradition in Sweden. Since the 1950s, there have been different groups particularly focussed on combatting the threats posed by nuclear weapons. The number of actively engaged grew significantly larger during the 1980s. However, after the end of the Cold War in Europe, the popular involvement has decreased. In fact, the popular movement probably lost proportionally more members in Sweden than in many other countries. To many people, there were other problems in the world which seemed more pressing. When escalating nuclear arsenals at last started to decrease, many therefore turned to other types of organizations.

Nevertheless, the peace movement in Sweden is still relatively strong, and the government is eager to keep close and cooperative relations with civil society in the field of disarmament. For instance, the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs held a meeting with some ten Swedish NGOs in preparation for the NPT Conference. The NGOs could thereby give valueable input directly to the members of the delegation representing Sweden at the NPT. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs also gave financial contributions enabling NGO-representatives to take part in the NPT Conference itself. After the conference, a new meeting with the same ten NGOs was held, to sum up and evaluate the results. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs made a very positive assessment of the participation of and close contacts with the Swedish NGOs.

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