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Delegates from 29 Nations Attend MPI Framework Forum Roundtable

The Middle Powers Initiative organized, with the support of the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, a roundtable on "Creating the Conditions and Building the Framework for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World" on October 10, 2012. Representatives from 29 countries, plus UN officials and NGOs, attended this preparatory meeting for the Framework Forum that will be held in Berlin, February 2013.

Panelists criticized the misuse of conditions that – while sometimes legitimate – are also used to delay progress in nuclear disarmament. The UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms. Angela Kane, expressed this concern saying, "Insisting on such preconditions for disarmament is viewed by other observers as little more than a thinly veiled formula for postponing disarmament indefinitely."

Dr. John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, was the featured speaker, outlining his paper from which the event took its name. "The proliferation of conditions by the Permanent Five bis at bottom a defense of an unconscionable status quo," he said, "While the P5 have identified issues that need to be addressed within a disarmament process, resolution of those issues is not a prerequisite for undertaking a comprehensive approach."

Dr. W. Pal Singh Sidhu, the Head of the WMD and Disarmament Program at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, served as respondent at the session. He said he agreed that preconditions are "unacceptable," but we need to examine "how do we manage so a nuclear weapons-free world remains as peaceful as possible, especially among major powers, and how do we manage conflicts."

The October 10 roundtable was the second Framework Forum event (the first being in Vienna in May) leading up to the Berlin Framework Forum to be held in February 2013, which will also be called "Creating the Conditions and Building the Framework for a Nuclear Weapons-Free World." The Framework Forum is to provide an ongoing, informal setting where the legal, technical, political, and institutional elements of a nuclear weapons-free world can be identified and developed to build political momentum towards the commencement of formal negotiations for a legal ban on nuclear weapons.