Conference Approves Declaration on Nuke-Free World

A gathering of hundreds of government officials, lawmakers and nonproliferation specialists in Kazakhstan on Wednesday issued a declaration calling for a world without nuclear weapons (see GSN, Oct. 12).

The three-page statement cites the "improved conditions for progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons" and urges all nations "to pursue further practical steps and effective measures toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons."

Produced by the International Forum for a Nuclear Weapon-Free World in Astana, the declaration calls for "further steps leading to nuclear disarmament to which all states parties to the [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] are committed ... including deeper reductions in all nuclear weapons of all types" that would be undertaken in a permanent and transparent manner.

Participants urged all nations to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, particularly those "Annex 2" nations whose ratification is still required for the accord to go into effect -- China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States (see GSN, Oct. 11). In the meantime, all nations are urged to voluntarily abstain from conducting new nuclear tests.

The document expresses "deep concern" over the years of inaction at the 65-nation Conference of Disarmament, where Pakistan has unilaterally blocked progress on a work plan that would address a fissile material cutoff treaty and other arms control matters (see related GSN story, today).

Support was given to the creation of additional zones in which the presence, production and use of nuclear arms is outlawed, and to the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East (International Forum for a Nuclear Weapon-Free World/Kazakhstanlive.com, Oct. 12).

The Astana conference involved some 500 senior officials from across the planet, according to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization.

U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon in a released statement expressed support for their aims.

"Let us move from ground zero to global zero -- a world free of nuclear weapons for all of our children and all of our tomorrows," Ban said (Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization release, Oct. 13).

There have been insufficient nuclear disarmament efforts in the 25 years since the landmark summit in which former U.S. President Reagan and then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev discussed ridding their nations of all such weapons, according to the nongovernmental organization founded by Gorbachev.

"In a world of new threats, nuclear weapons do not solve the real security problems that confront us today; indeed reliance on them only makes the situation increasingly dangerous," Gorbachev said in a release from Green Cross International (Green Cross International release, Oct. 10).

Former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright on Wednesday also threw his support for ultimately ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

"At the end of the day, the goal has to be zero. Not zero deployed. Not zero between Russia and the United States. It has to be zero," Cartwright said at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

Cartwright was addressing delegates to the Global Zero Summit, an event aimed at renewing momentum for efforts to abolish atomic arms.

"A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. It will not look 'tactical when it goes off," the retired general told attendees. "And a weapon that's in storage status, when it goes off, it does not look like it's in storage. We have to get rid of them all" (Global Zero release, Oct. 12).

October 13, 2011
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A gathering of hundreds of government officials, lawmakers and nonproliferation specialists in Kazakhstan on Wednesday issued a declaration calling for a world without nuclear weapons (see GSN, Oct. 12).