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There is a saying that goes, “You never really miss something until it’s gone.”
But there are some things that we cannot afford to lose. One such item is the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Let’s imagine for a minute that the NPT had never existed.
Far more states would have nuclear weapons.
There would have been nothing to put the brakes on the nuclear programmes still running after the Cold War.
Mutual distrust would be much higher.
In short, our world would be far less safe. The NPT is a good example to illustrate what Finnish diplomat Martti Koskenniemi means when he describes international law as the “gentle civiliser of nations”.
Another such civiliser is the International Atomic Energy Agency. Just think what the world would be like without the Agency:
We wouldn’t have such high universal safeguarding standards.
We wouldn’t have civilian reactor technology which in most countries runs without highly enriched uranium.
300 safeguards agreements. 1,500 cameras installed. 3,000 on-site inspections conducted. More than one million documents evaluated. None of this would have happened.
The International Atomic Energy Agency also plays an indispensable role in the implementation of the JCPOA, a milestone in non-proliferation diplomacy. That’s why we have to do everything possible to ensure that the agency can continue to work in an independent and neutral manner.
That applies in the case of North Korea, for instance, where we need the IAEA’s verification capabilities. It is simply unacceptable for North Korea to become the first country to establish itself as a nuclear power by openly violating the NPT.
The proliferation risk would be immense.
It would add fuel to the fire of re-armament.
And finally, it would reward the bad behaviour of a country that has repeatedly ignored Security Council resolutions.
North Korea needs to embark on a credible process of denuclearisation. This is what we expect, not least as Chair of the Sanctions Committee on North Korea.
If we want to maintain the NPT and its universality, we need to preserve the balance at its heart: the balance between nuclear non-proliferation, peaceful use of nuclear technology and the nuclear disarmament imperative.
In concrete terms, the 2020 NPT Review Conference needs to make it clear that Article VI of the treaty still applies. The recognised nuclear-weapon states need to disarm too – that is their duty, and we expect them to fulfil it!
Also, it is high time to ensure the appointment of the President of the Review Conference to make progress.
We need a roadmap that will get us back on track with nuclear disarmament. I would like to outline three specific elements here.
Firstly, we need to take tangible steps towards strategic risk reduction. We need
- more transparency on nuclear arsenals;
- crisis-proof channels of communication;
- revived dialogue among the P5, which carry particular nuclear responsibility.
Secondly, We have to lay the technical groundwork for a world free of nuclear weapons. Perhaps the most important part of that is credible verification. For instance, how can non-nuclear-weapon states verify the proper dismantling of a nuclear warhead without gaining access to its blueprints?
To seek answers to that question, Germany and France are jointly hosting a disarmament verification exercise in September – to which you are all invited!
Thirdly, we must strengthen and develop the architecture of nuclear arms control. We have been biding time for far too long. Let’s start negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Different views on certain aspects should be clarified during negotiations, they should not hinder the start of negotiations.
And let’s finally get the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force. Nuclear tests should be a thing of the past.
We will be pushing for that as co-chair of this year’s Article 14 CTBT conference.
Whether in Europe, in Asia or anywhere else, we cannot afford any more shocks to our security and stability. We must preserve crucial and effective treaties like New START.
It doesn’t only contribute to security between the US and Russia. It is also a pillar of security in Europe and of the global nuclear order. And it fulfills an obligation that arises directly out of the NPT.
I firmly believe that further reductions are possible – without any loss of security. The US and Russia could and should continue to cut the number of warheads and delivery systems.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Especially in times of increasingly divergent positions, we must preserve our achievements. The NPT is such a universal achievement, a “gentle civiliser of nations”.
We must safeguard its future in 2020. That job will require energy and commitment from all of us. Our shared security and peace around the world are surely worth it.