At the opening of the 8th NPT Review Conference in New York on Monday, Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, demanded that the provisions on nuclear disarmament of the NPT be taken seriously. “The NPT has come to a crossroads,” she declared. “The long-term vision of a world without nuclear weapons – of a world able to use nuclear energy responsibly – is in the realm of the possible.”
The focus of her statement to the conference was nuclear disarmament - the “pillar of the NPT to which we have devoted the least attention so far.” She declared that nuclear weapons had no use, that they were immoral, and that the use of them would be a violation of international humanitarian law. She went on to note that the most recent efforts towards disarmament had so far only produced modest results and needed to be strengthened.
Mrs Calmy-Rey said she expected the Review Conference to adopt a plan of action that would advance nuclear disarmament in a “concrete, progressive and pragmatic fashion”. In addition she declared that a debate should be launched concerning the legitimacy of the use of nuclear weapons, and that “Switzerland’s aim is to bring the humanitarian aspect to the heart of the current debate on nuclear disarmament.” She supported the proposal of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, to ban nuclear weapons altogether through a new international convention.
On the issue of nuclear proliferation, the Swiss foreign minister asked for support for the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), saying the Conference should reflect on how it can make the IAEA’s system of safeguards less vulnerable to criticism and more respected.
In concluding, the Head of the FDFA underscored the challenge facing the international community regarding the claims of many countries to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, on the one hand, and the risks of proliferation, on the other.
The 8th. NPT Review Conference takes place in New York from 3-28 May 2010.
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