States call for concrete measures to prevent nuclear weapons
The sixteen countries that make up the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament have called on the world’s nuclear powers to take concrete action to eliminate the most dangerous weapons on earth.
At the initiative’s fourth ministerial meeting since its inception in 2019, officials welcomed the recent announcement of new arms control talks between Russia and the United States.
But in a statement, they also urged the nine nuclear-weapon states to “promote disarmament by taking significant steps” to meet their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“A return to the path of nuclear disarmament is possible. But above all, it is also urgent,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said at the meeting in Madrid.
Following the meeting between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin just under three weeks ago, Maas said now is “the right time to come up with very concrete measures”.
Yet at the same time, Maas has defended Germany’s participation in NATO’s nuclear deterrence policy, which sees non-nuclear countries like Germany harboring American weapons.
“It is not only about our own protection, but we also take security guarantees, especially for the states of Eastern Europe,” he said.
“And I don’t think you can discuss it.
Germany is estimated to be home to 20 US nuclear weapons.
The 16 Stockholm Initiative countries do not themselves possess nuclear weapons.
Besides Germany, the group also includes Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Stockholm-based peace institute SIPRI released a report in mid-June with findings that there had been an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2020, but more were deployed with the forces. operational.
The nine nuclear-weapon states had around 13,080 nuclear weapons between them at the start of 2021, up from 13,400.
But an estimated 3,825 were deployed with task forces, up from 3,720 the year before.
Almost all of the 2,000 kept on high operational alert were from Russia or the United States.
Earlier this year, Russia and the United States agreed to extend the new START nuclear disarmament treaty for five years.
It limits the nuclear arsenals of the two countries to 800 vectors and 1,550 operational nuclear warheads each. The agreement was due to expire this year.
Biden and Putin said the extension of the new START could provide a basis for further disarmament negotiations. Russia said those talks could start this month.