What did Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt really say?
Radio shows “Ekot” and “Ring P1”, May 6
On May 6th, the daily Swedish news show “Ekot” (broadcasted by Radio Sweden) interviewed a number of Swedish Members of Parliament (from the government coalition as well as from opposition parties) about Sweden’s policy on nuclear disarmament. The MPs directed criticism towards Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt on various issues, amongst them the MFA’s decision to leave the New Agenda Coalition as well as their refusal to sign the humanitarian statement during the NPT PrepCom. Following this, Carl Bildt rather surprisingly called in to the morning show “Ring P1”, also broadcasted by Radio Sweden, after having declined to participate in the news show. Ring P1 is a daily radio show to which listeners amongst the public call in to speak their minds on various topics. Bildt placed his call after the host had tweeted and asked why he does not support a ban on nuclear weapons (this is what “Ekot” had reported, even if the humanitarian statement does not include a call for a ban).
In his talk with Ring P1, Carl Bildt argued that the humanitarian statement during the NPT PrepCom was “no big deal” and that Sweden practices “serious” disarmament work, especially highlighting the CTBT (the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty). The host, Ms. Alexandra Pascalidou who is not familiar with disarmament issues, then asked Carl Bildt why Sweden, being a peace nation, would not support a ban on nuclear weapons. Bildt replied that as a peace nation, Sweden should be serious in our disarmament work and achieve what is achievable. “We strive for a world free from nuclear weapons but that world is relatively far away, therefore we need to achieve what is achievable”, he said. He then exemplified this strategy by pointing to the importance of working on the Iran issue, on the issue of tactical nuclear weapons in our immediate neighborhood, as well as on the CTBT together with Mexico.
FM Bildt also argued that nuclear disarmament is conducted by the nuclear weapons states, and to get into and be part of that process it’s important to be a “serious actor”, to be perceived as serious. He asked himself the question “how do we get to a nuclear weapons free world?” to which he answered “reduction of strategic arms – if that is possible”.
Ms. Pascalidou then asked again why Sweden would not sign a ban on nuclear weapons – it seems to be a reasonable thing to do, she said. Bildt replied that “this is ‘placard politics’ - it’s not possible to realize, and with this approach we will not get any response by the serious powers.”
Radio Show “Studio Ett”, May 6
During the afternoon of May 6th, Carl Bildt accepted to further discuss the nuclear disarmament issue in the Swedish radio show “Studio Ett”. Bildt, when asked again about the humanitarian statement, said that the statement was a side track that no “other serious states” participated in.
He also argued that Sweden devotes energy to issues that are on the agenda, as Sweden is engaged in the IAEA, the CTBT and in disarmament of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. The NPT PrepCom was just a civil servant meeting, he said, and the humanitarian statement was symbolic rather than of any substantial value.
The interviewers at Studio Ett then asked if FM Bildt does not see Norway and Denmark as serious states (given that they signed the humanitarian statement)? He replied: “Yes, but this is not the serious parts of their security politics”. The interviewers then asked the follow-up question “What makes your approach more serious than theirs?” To this, Bildt replied that “The statement was supported by 78 out of 190 countries, not many European states, and very few of the serious engaged states. We are seriously engaged to get actual results. Credibility and a way in to reach those who have nuclear weapons - that is the reality”.
The hosts of Studio Ett then called up a representative from the Norwegian MFA (while Bildt was still on the show) who said that the humanitarian approach has been the main focus for the Norwegian government for some time now. The fact that this issue was raised in many statements during the NPT PrepCom shows the big support for this approach, said the Norwegian representative.
The interviewers continued with asking FM Bildt what harm supporting the statement could have done, and he said again that this is “no big thing”. The issue has never reached his desk, Bildt said, arguing that these kinds of questions are not on his level at all and could be handled in other forums. [It was a bit unclear if he meant the statement or the whole humanitarian approach as such.] Sweden’s approach has been to handle issues of substance, he said, arguing that a ban on nuclear weapons is a diplomatic dead-end.
FM Bildt was then asked what he has actually achieved so far. To this he answered: “A number of states have ratified the CTBT”.
The issue was also commented on by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute) during “Ekot” at Radio Sweden later that same day. Mr. Shannon Kile from SIPRI was critical to Bildt calling the humanitarian statement “no big deal” and irrelevant. Mr. Kile argued that these kinds of appeals in fact can help to delegitimize nuclear weapons.
Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons
Representatives from 127 governments gathered in Oslo, Norway, from 4 to 5 March 2013 for the Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons. ICAN was the civil society partner and presented a video statement in the opening session as well as four oral interventions, which highlighted that any use of nuclear weapons would have catastrophic humanitarian consequences
Urgent Action: Korea crisis resolution
Many of us are scared about the heightened tension in the conflict on the Korean peninsula. A way to deal with that fear is to act. We invite you to join us in calling on the heads of states of nations that took part in the Six-Party Talks - the USA, North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan - to return to the negotiating table and prevent a nuclear catastrophe. Help us to get as many signatures as we can to show how much we care about this issue!
Challenge Delusional Thinking - send the new Medact report to your MP
Medact’s latest report The Delusional Thinking behind a Policy of ‘Nuclear Deterrence’ was launched this month at the House of Lords. Thank you to all who attended.
Today many decision makers believe that ‘nuclear deterrence’ is an essential component of the UK’s defence strategy. This report examines the delusional nature of some of the thinking that underpins this belief.
If you would like to receive a free hard copy, please send your name and address to info[at]medact.org. We’d be happy to send you additional copies to give to others. Just let us know how many you need. In particular, it would be great if you could send a copy to your MP. Any small donations towards postage costs would be gratefully received.
The report is dedicated to Gill Reeve, former Director of Medact, co-founder of ICAN-UK and committed anti-nuclear campaigner, whose many years of creative work towards a peaceful future without nuclear weapons was an inspiration to us all.
ICAN Civil Society Forum
If just one of the world's 19,000 nuclear weapons was detonated, be it intentionally or accidentally, not only would it kill thousands of people instantly, but, as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has concluded, first responders would be unable to provide the emergency relief so urgently needed. This makes the continued existence and deployment of nuclear weapons one of the most serious humanitarian challenges of our time.
To demonstrate that a treaty banning nuclear weapons is both possible and urgently needed, ICAN will host the Civil Society Forum on 2-3 March 2013. We have invited hundreds of people from all corners of the world to give inspiring speeches, participate in informative workshops, engage in lively discussions and of course, to have fun.
IPPNW to President Obama: Stop subcritical nuclear tests!
The United States conducted a subcritical nuclear test on 5 December 2012. Such tests undermine one of the main purposes of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which is to prevent the development of new warhead designs. IPPNW reacted and sent an open letter to President Obama protesting against the conducting of subcritical nuclear tests and calling for a cessation of any such testing in the future.
Lessons from Cuba, 50 years on
Frank Boulton looks back and considers what has changed
In late October 1962 Cold War Watchers were horrified by the imminent prospect of global annihilation. John Kennedy, the charismatic but mercurial American President, had over 20,000 nuclear warheads under his command; Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Leader, had about 2,000. Berlin had been a flash-point ever since the Soviet blockade of 1948. Many American weapons were based in Europe and Turkey, targetting Russian cities: more were on missiles, aircraft, ships and submarines. In contrast the Soviets’ weapons were restricted to the admittedly extensive territories of the USSR and its satellites, and a few diesel submarines. The Russians felt encircled and were searching for a strategic response.
ICAN Sweden holds Campaigner Weekend
On October 27th and 28th, ICAN Sweden gathered over 20 future anti-nukes campaigners for a weekend course entitled "Nuclear weapons, peace and disarmament". The course included topics such as the functioning of nuclear weapons, their environmental and humanitarian consequences, the current political landscape regarding disarmament and the proposition of a global ban. Using their newfound knowledge the participants tackled issues such as the funding of nuclear weapons, political paralysis and low public awareness, while developing their own action ideas through an interactive campaigning workshop.
Voices from Hiroshima and Fukushima
When Peace Boat's 77th voyage docked in Greece, a delegation of four Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) from Hiroshima and two students from Fukushima University visited local officials in Piraeus and Athens as part of the Global Hibakusha Project. The four from Hiroshima had previously been giving testimony in Israel and joined the ship in Egypt where they gave testimony in Cairo. The visits in Greece were organised in coordination with Maria Sotiropoulou, Greek Affiliate at International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW)
Middle East should be disarmed, not armed
An exception doesn’t prove the rule, it weakens it. Germany is violating its international obligations and its own rules by delivering a nuclear-capable submarine to Israel. Moreover, it risks damaging the conference on a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, planned to take place at the end of this year. The delivery conveys the impression that arming Israel is the way to more peace, rather than regional disarmament.
Paediatricians speak out for the health of future generations
Nuclear Abolition Day June 2nd
A group of paediatricians signed a letter written by Medact that appeared in the Guardian the day before Nuclear Abolition Day, appealing to the Prime Minister to play an active part in initiating negotiations towards a Nuclear Weapons Convention, as the only way to ensure that no children - now or in the future - will have to live under the threat of these terrible weapons. A longer letter with the full list of signatures was delivered to Downing Street.
Nuclear Famine: climate effects of regional nuclear war
More than a billion people around the world would face starvation following a limited regional nuclear weapons exchange (such as a clash between India and Pakistan) that would cause major worldwide climate disruption driving down food production in China, the US and other nations, according to a major new report by IPPNW and its US affiliate, PSR.
Ankara Declaration on IPPNW Middle East Core Group Meeting
Strategies for Peace and Health in the Nuclear Free Middle East
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) representatives from Israel, Iran, Egypt, United States, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary and Turkey met in Ankara, Turkey, on December 8th to 10th 2011 to address the issues of peace, health and weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
Call for the abolition of nuclear weapons
Red Cross/Red Crescent movement calls for abolition of nuclear weapons
November 26: In an historic decision, the Council of Delegates of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies adopted by acclamation a resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons and calling on all national societies to conduct educational campaigns about the unique, catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. The resolution was first proposed by the national societies of Norway, Japan, and Australia, and has been the subject of intense internal debate within the Red Cross movement for the better part of the last year.
Nuclear weapons are so typically twentieth century
by Gunnar Westberg
It is twenty-five years since IPPNW received the Nobel Peace Prize, and 30 years since the founding of our federation. We can certainly feel good about what we have accomplished in those three decades, while realizing that we have not yet eliminated nuclear weapons from the world. If we look back, it is only to link what we’ve done with what we still have to do.
The cables make the case for START
by John Pastore, MD and Ira Helfand, MD
The diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks this past week show a dangerously escalating nuclear confrontation in South Asia. This growing danger is one more reason why the U.S. Senate should ratify new START without further delay.
New Anglo-French Nuclear Deal Undermines Security and Health
Statement by British and French Affiliates of IPPNW
The British and French affiliates of IPPNW (Medact and AMFPGN) have issued a joint statement in which they criticize their respective governments for having signed a treaty on nuclear cooperation. In the document, dating November 2nd, 2010, France and Britain declare their intent to cooperate in testing the safety of their nuclear arsenals. Medact and AMFPGN oppose this agreement, because they consider it to be a violation of some of the major arms control treaties, and therefore a threat to international security.
Nobel Peace Prize Laureates call for abolition of nuclear weapons
A group of Nobel Peace Prize Laureats gathering in Hiroshima on November 12-14, 2010, issued an appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons. They encouraged political leaders as well as citizens to join them in their efforts. In their declaration they also called on all nations to negotiate a universal treaty to abolish nuclear weapons.
No to Trident Replacement, Yes to a Nuclear Weapons Convention
Last chance to sign the petition
Many of you have already signed the petition by CND and Medact which calls for the UK government to:
"cancel its preparations to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system and start the process of dismantling the existing system; and in the spirit of its support for existing treaties banning indiscriminate weapons such as landmines, chemical and biological weapons; to pursue multilateral negotiations with a view to concluding a Nuclear Weapons Convention by the year 2020 to ensure the elimination of nuclear weapons world wide."
If you have not already signed it, you can do so online here:
The online petition will close on the 25th April 2010.
This will be then be handed in with a global petition at the NPT Review Conference in New York in May.
Learn about Nuclear Weapons
The problem is not exactly a lack of material on nuclear weapons and disarmament. However, sometimes it is difficult to sift through all information available and to find what you are looking for. The Swedish Physicians against Nuclear Weapons and the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society offers you the material Learn about Nuclear Weapons, for anyone looking for a basic or in-depth knowledge of nuclear weapons and disarmament issues. To create a global movement towards nuclear disarmament, it takes a strong public opinion.
World Congress calls for a nuclear weapons free world
More than 600 doctors and medical students from 44 countries brought IPPNW's call for the abolition of nuclear weapons and for the prevention of war and small arms violence to India, when they gathered in New Delhi for the 18th World Congress from March 9-11. IPPNW and Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) met with President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cabinet ministers and parliamentarians to promote the Nuclear Weapons Convention and to appeal for a return to the spirit of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's 1988 Action Plan for a nuclear weapons free world.
The future of nuclear non-proliferation
Report WEU Interparliamentary Assembly
In June 2006 the Assembly of WEU adopted a report on "The non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction". That report provided a very full description of the various non-proliferation regimes for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and contained detailed sections on EU and transatlantic non-proliferation efforts.This new report concentrates on nuclear weapons, the future role of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), nuclear terrorism and new instruments and future trends in nuclear non-proliferation. The report also discusses the link between non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.
Postcards for a Nuclear Weapons free Europe
IPPNW Sweden and Switzerland
The NATO doctrine ist outdated and detrimental to European security. European Non Nuclear Weapons States should raise their voice for elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Europe. We need a Nuclear Weapons free Europe! Join us in our fight for a Nulcear Weapons free Europe! IPPNW Sweden and Switzerland have produced four Postcards for a Nuclear Weapons free Zone.
Campaign against Nuclear sharing of US Nukes
European IPPNW affiliate meeting
60 physicians und medical students from all over Europe met to discuss and develop joint projects. The European IPPNW meeting followed the international conference "Nuclear Weapons: The Final Pandemic - Preventing Proliferation and Achieving Abolition" in cooperation with the Royal Society of Medicine. On the agenda was an exchange about European IPPNW issues, for example the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons from Europe, the ICAN campaign to demand a Nuclear Weapons Convention and the IPPNW contribution to lasting peace in the Mediterranean region.
Britain´s New Nuclear Weapons
New Medact Briefing
In the foreward to the White Paper on 'The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear Deterrent' presented to Parliament on December 4th the Prime Minister says he 'is confident that [the resulting] debate will only confirm that maintaining our nuclear deterrent is in the best interests of the country's future security'. Medact fundamentally disagrees. Our briefing 'Britain's New Nuclear Weapons: Illegal, Indiscriminate and Catastrophic for Health' outlines why. It details the terrible health effects that even a one-kilotonne weapon would cause to reveal any nuclear weapon for what it is: indiscriminate and therefore illegal.