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Transcript from the Sixth Article VI Forum Meeting
Berlin, Germany
January 29-30, 2009

Marit Nybakk, MP

speaking on the panel, "Reviewing NATO Strategic Concept"

(This is a rush transcript)

Thank you Madam Chair. Ladies and gentlemen and dear friends, first to add to the introduction, I represent the Labor Party. That is important for me. In addition, I was the rapporteur for the White Paper from the government on disarmament and non-proliferation last autumn in the Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which am one of the vice-chair persons. I’d like to spend one minute, first, to say something about the Norwegian position on disarmament and non-proliferation. We have a three-party government, with the Labor Party as the main party. And in the government’s declaration, it says that we have a vision of a world free of nuclear weapons, and Parliament, from the left to the very right, has unanimously supported the total elimination or abolition of nuclear weapons, including the very right Progress Party. That is our position, and the disarmament and non-proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction. Both are fundamental parts of Norwegian Security Policy. All the political parties in Parliament agree that nuclear weapons must be defined as the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. This is very important for our position. Of course, we’ve been very active in all kinds of disarmament. I’ve just mentioned cluster munitions, and we have, since the failure of the last review conference, chaired the Seven State Initiative, and will take recommendations from that initiative and that cooperation into the Review Conference in 2010. I could also add, before going into the Strategic Concept, that we are known, at least in the NATO context, for be very active against the missile defense in the Czech Republic and in Poland. That said about the Norwegian position, we have been very active inside NATO on arms control and disarmament.

Now, the NATO Strategic Concept. It can be argued that the current NATO nuclear strategy is in conflict with the obligation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is a problem. As has been said before, that NATO, in 2009 on the sixtieth anniversary and twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, still has a nuclear strategy from the Cold War. That is also why it is important to focus on the NATO strategic concept in order to do as Rebecca [Johnson] said this morning, denuclearize NATO and the alliance. NATO has started a process with the Transatlantic Charter. The plan is to put forward a so-called declaration on alliance security at the NATO Summit this year in connection with the sixtieth anniversary of the alliance. The work was originally started to follow up an initiative from the Secretary General to change NATO’s Strategic Concept. The Strategic Concept is, together with comprehensive political guidance, the political basis for the alliance. The upcoming summit will probably decide whether the Strategic Concept should be opened when dealing with the Transatlantic Charter.

If so, it is important that NATO takes up the question of nuclear weapons in alliance strategy, and you all understand how important it the Strategic Concept really is being opened. And, that is now the question, because there are different opinions among NATO member states about opening or changing, or rather modernizing, the Strategic Concept and that it is not only because of the nuclear question. Those who are against fear that work to reassess the Charter could lead to big differences in question like the relationship with Russia, and new security issues like energy supplies and defense against cyber attacks. There is a discrepancy between the original NATO countries and the new ones. Those who favor a new Strategic Concept argue that, for the last twenty years, NATO has undergone a series of fundamental changes in response to an entirely new strategic situation. These are most visible in the deployment of armed forces beyond alliance territory, in the opening of the alliance to new members, and the development of the Partnership for Peace. But also, the comprehensive approach to security in which defense, dialogue, democracy, and development work hand in hand.

I will argue that, after the end of the Cold War, NATO has had an extraordinary ability to adapt to new security environments. It may also be added that, in addition to the EU, NATO has played the major role of the stabilization of democracy in the new states in Europe and in the Balkans. Today, both Serbia and Bosnia have Partnership for Peace status. Croatia has become a NATO member. But on the nuclear question, NATO still lives in the Cold War, and we wonder why. If the NATO Summit comes up with a decision to change the Strategic Concept, how can we play a role and influence the result concerning the role nuclear weapons in the concept? I’m a parliamentarian, and I will first argue that we must work through national parliaments. Parliaments are important in connection with the governments.

When I was rapporteur in the Committee on Foreign Affairs on the White Paper, we came out unanimously, from the left to the very right, stating that in the work of the alliance, with the Transatlantic Charter, and eventually a new Strategic Concept, NATO’s nuclear weapons strategy must be discussed. This was unanimous in the Norwegian Parliament. So the government has parliament behind them, if they really want to take this up. As I said, the Norwegian Parliament was also unanimous in working toward a world free of nuclear weapons, and that NATO should continuously consider its nuclear strategy. So, I think national parliaments are important, and all NGOs and scientists, and academics, please also use your parliamentarians in this work.

Secondly, there is the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. The former conservative Foreign Minister of Norway, Mr. Jan Petersen, now a Parliamentarian, is the rapporteur in the NATO PA on the Assembly’s contribution to the new Strategic Concept of the alliance. He’s not unimportant. I believe he is one of the vice chairpersons in the International Conservative Movement. In the draft proposal to the Assembly from October 2008, discussed in the Assembly’s Political Committee and the Defense Committee in the plenary session in November 2008 it says, “NATO should reassess the question of nuclear weapons in alliance strategy and whether nuclear warheads for sub-strategic systems still need to be based in Europe.” And this is also unanimous. So, it is also important to work through the NATO PA. Even some may argue that if you compare the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to, let’s say, NATO bureaucrats in Brussels, I’m sure that the bureaucrats are more powerful, but don’t underestimate the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. They represent their national parliaments. So they have to go back to their parliaments and say what they did in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.

Thirdly, of course, civil society plays an important role in the fight for a world free of nuclear weapons. And, I believe in the cooperation among parliamentarians, the civil society, scientists, trade unions in Norway, they are extremely active on this issue. They all work to secure a public consciousness on weapons of mass destruction, in particular nuclear weapons. And, they can always create pressure against me, as a parliamentarian, and also the government.

Fourthly, I think it is necessary to say, as is also stated in a seminar from last spring in Norway, where the Seven States Initiative arranged it, achieving a world free of nuclear weapons must be a joint enterprise amongst states, nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states alike. Article VI of the NPT places the obligation of bringing about disarmament on all states. To be sure, states with the largest arsenals have a leadership role to play. But only by advancing non-proliferation and disarmament together, and by working together on reliable verification tools and collective security arrangement, will our mission be achievable. If we do our common purpose, to work together among militaries, among scientists, among diplomats, and among governments, the benefits could be felt in many other fields as well.

Then, I’d like to add what Rebecca said. Those of us who represent the non-nuclear weapons nations in NATO may have special responsibility, and my opinion is that we should try to make our governments to cooperate now, for the next weeks to the NATO Summit, because the NATO Summit is very important. And why is that? At the review in 2010, nuclear disarmament must be a central issue, and not only nuclear disarmament, but how should we find a way towards a nuclear weapons free world. Initiatives from NATO can give positive signals to that effect, but what happens if NATO continues with the present Strategic Concept, and what is there about the nuclear weapons role in the alliance? So, I’m also asking you for help, because I think that the NATO Summit is very crucial at the moment also, if we think about the review conference. Thank you very much.