SEMINAR, 1-4 SEPTEMBER, 2000, UPPSALA, SWEDEN
PRESS RELEASE 14
Conference calls for Nuclear Weapon-Free Zones with
on South Asia, Northeast Asia, the Middle East and Central Europe
An International Seminar, attended by more than 50 scholars,
experts, activists and diplomats from six continents, has called for Nuclear Weapons-Free
Zones (NWFZs) to be established all over the world as transitional steps towards complete
nuclear abolition. It underscored the urgency of such zones particularly in South Asia,
Northeast Asia, the Middle East and Central Europe.
The Seminar, held between September 1 and 4 at Uppsala, was inaugurated by United
Nations Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, who delivered
the keynote address. It deliberated on the moral, political, legal and security imperative
of nuclear weapons abolition, highlighting the need for both comprehensive and incremental
measures of disarmament.
At a time when some 30,000 nuclear weapons remain, NWFZs offer one of the few
activities open to non-nuclear-weapon States not just to quarantine themselves from the
nuclear contagion, but to pool their efforts to resist it, said Mr Dhanapala.
The Seminar participants were unanimous that a decade after
the Cold War, the world faces
a stark choice: achieve complete nuclear abolition, or face a second Nuclear Age with new
generations of even more horrifying nuclear and other high-tech weapons. NWFZs, which ban
the manufacture, deployment and transit of nuclear weapons in specific regions, and make
them safe from nuclear attacks and threats from the nuclear weapons-states, are an
important step towards nuclear abolition. Treaties to establish NWFZs have so far been
reached in respect of Latin America (1967), South Pacific (1985), Africa (1996) and
Southeast Asia (1997).
It is imperative that the treaties come into force fully and that the Nuclear Powers
strictly adhere to their protocols, said Olle Nordberg, Executive Director of the
Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, the Seminar host and one of its five international
But it is even more crucial that the concept of
NWFZs is itself radically transformed: from a measure of non-proliferation to a pro-active
means of nuclear disarmament, i.e. thinning out, removal and actual dismantling of nuclear
weapons where they already exist, Mr Nordberg said.
After reviewing recent developments in disarmament
negotiations, as well as the working of the existing NWFZs, the Seminar discussed at
length the possibilities of such a transformation at a conceptual and practical level,
especially as regards five specific zones.
In Central Asia, the emergence of a zone treaty, which
seemed imminent, now faces some political obstacles. These need to be overcome.
In Northeast Asia, with Japan and the two Koreas at its
centre, an NWFZ would offer the best guarantee of security without nuclear weapons while
ensuring that no country crosses the nuclear threshold. This is an eminently
sensible proposal, said Hiro Umebayashi of Japanese civil society group, Peace
In volatile South Asia, which witnessed a nuclear breakout
with the Indian and Pakistani tests of 1998, an NWFZ could prevent the deployment of
nuclear weapons. The demand for such a zone has been made for over 20 years in UN
resolutions, said Achin Vanaik and Praful Bidwai, Indian anti-nuclear campaigners
and initiators of the seminar. Today a South Asian NWFZ is more relevant than
In the Middle East, the establishment of a zone free of
Israels nuclear weapons, and all other weapons of mass destruction would be a key
component of regional security. Said Fawzy H. Hammad, former chairman of Egypts
atomic energy commission: All the participants from our region agree that a zone
free of all mass-destruction weapons is a realistic step forward.
In Central and Eastern Europe, an NWFZ would defend the
post-Cold War peace gains now threatened by NATO expansion and facilitate withdrawal of
remaining tactical nuclear weapons. Fiona Dove, director of the Amsterdam-based
Transnational Institute, another Seminar co-sponsor, said: A Central European NWFZ
would greatly enhance security and impel NATO de-nuclearisation in Europe.
NWFZs have an advantage over other transitional measures
towards disarmament. They involve a concerted effort by a whole region towards a common
security structure. They carry the potential to include non-signatories to the
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. They do not suffer from
the infirmities of the NPT, which does not impose effective disarmament obligations upon
the nuclear states.
The Seminar participants emphasised the tremendous public
education as well as disarmament potential of NWFZs. They welcomed declarations of nuclear
weapons-free cities and local authorities. Such nuclear-free areas have great moral
and political value although lacking legal force, said Masa Takubo of Gensuikin
(Japan Congress against A- and H-Bombs).
The Seminar also discussed the issue of verification of NWFZ
agreements and concluded on the basis of expert opinion that fairly reliable and
accessible technological means exist to verify that all concerned states comply with their
Seminar participants, who included a variety of civil
society groups and campaigning organisations, underscored the relevance of the
long-standing demand for a Nordic NWFZ and the concept of single-state NWFZs
being advocated for countries as varied as Austria, Mongolia and Sweden.
The participants dedicated themselves to campaigning for
NWFZs in different forums, global, regional and national. In the Uppsala Declaration they
adopted (attached below), they outlined a programme of future activities, including
regional-level campaigns, publications and creation of a Website.