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The following is a speech given by Kurt Beck, (the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Germany and Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate) during the conference on "Peace through Disarmament: International Law and Nuclear Non-Proliferation", 26th June 2006
Speech

 

Given by the Chairman of the

Social Democratic Party of Germany

and Minister-President of Rhineland-Palatinate

 

Kurt Beck

 

 

at the SPD Conference

 

 

Peace through Disarmament:

International Law and Nuclear Non-Proliferation

 

 

on Monday, 26 June 2006

in the Willy-Brandt-Haus, Berlin

 

 

 

- Check against delivery -

 

 

 

 

 

I. WELCOME

 

Director-General Dr. ElBaradei,

Ministers,

Excellencies,

Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,

Members of the German Bundestag,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is a great honour for the SPD to have the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, as its guest here in the Willy-Brandt-Haus today.

 

Dr. ElBaradei,

 

I bid you a warm welcome to the SPD party headquarters and express my heartfelt thanks to you once again for coming here in such eventful times so that we can reflect together on how our One World can be made a safer and more peaceful place.

 

II WILLY BRANDT

 

 “Without peace everything else is nothing”, Willy Brandt once correctly remarked. Willy Brandt, who like you, Mr. ElBaradei, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, was well aware that peace means more than the absence of war.

 

Willy Brandt also knew that you cannot afford to rest on your laurels but must actively pursue a policy for peace day by day.

 

III CURRENT THREATS POSED BY THE PROLIFERATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

 

In talking today about disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation we take due note of very topical events.

 

The five original nuclear powers have been joined by others, most recently India and Pakistan. Everybody is talking about North Korea.

 

One thing is perfectly clear: We reject any new spiral in the arms race – globally or in individual regions. For that reason we say quite openly that we do not want to see Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Iran must substantiate its claim that it does not aspire to such weapons.

 

We do not want other states to have weapons of mass destruction either and we must do all we can to prevent weapons of this kind falling into the hands of ruthless terrorists.

 

People the world over are worried, and all of us here have an urgent duty to find ways of halting the spread of weapons of mass destruction. More nuclear weapons do not enhance security, they diminish it.

 

 

 IV        FIGHT AGAINST TERROR AND FOR DISARMAMENT

 

The end of the East-West confrontation nurtured hopes that we would all profit from a new peace dividend. Those hopes have failed to materialise.

 

One of Dr. ElBaradei’s predecessors as Director-General, the former Swedish Foreign Minister Hans Blix, recently noted in a report on weapons of mass destruction he drew up for the United Nations that governments and the general public are showing less and less interest in disarmament and non-proliferation.

 

Blix presumes this may have something to do with the global battle against terrorism. He is probably right.

 

But it would be wrong to accept this lack of interest, for terrorism represents an additional threat to peace and security and should not be seen as replacing the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and military armament.

 

V SPD AS A PARTY OF PEACE

 

The SPD has always regarded itself as a party of peace. Our comprehensive security concept commits us to conflict prevention. Our policy is to use political, economic, development and diplomatic means to tackle the root causes of conflict.

 

Disarmament and non-proliferation occupy a prominent position in this policy.

 

VI INTERNATIONAL COORDINATION: G8 AND EU PRESIDENCY

 

A policy of this kind must be coordinated at the international level.

 

Next year Germany will assume the presidency of the G8 and in the first half of 2007 the presidency of the EU.

 

We will press for Germany to put the disarmament issue on the agenda during its presidency of both these bodies.

 

Where should the focus lie?

Let me single out four points.

 

VII. STRENGTHENING OF THE NON-PROLIFERATION TREATY

 

We must reinvigorate the two elements of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

 

a)     On the one hand, the Non-Proliferation Treaty obliges states without official nuclear weapon status not to strive for the possession of nuclear weapons. Germany has been very active here in the context of the EU3 initiative – see Iran. In this connection I should like to express my heartfelt thanks to Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier for his dedicated quest for solutions together with his European and international partners.

 

 

b)     At the same time – and this is the other element of the Non-Proliferation Treaty – the official nuclear powers are urged to dismantle their nuclear arsenals. We shall insist that they do so. Let me make it perfectly clear that we abide by the long-term goal of the complete abolition of weapons of mass destruction.

 

VIII STRENGTHENING OF INTERNATIONAL CONTRACTUAL REGIMES

 

We must strengthen the hand of all those who ceaselessly champion the cause of nuclear disarmament. Special mention must be made in this respect of the International Atomic Energy Authority and its Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei.

 

Mr ElBaradei, we are keen to hear how monitoring of adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty can be made more effective.

 

Let me state quite bluntly that I see no alternative to multilateral contractual regimes such as the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

 

For that reason there must be a strengthening of the treaty and its monitoring mechanisms. This is the issue we wish to discuss here today.

 

IX BAN ON THE USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

 

We fail to understand why individual states should think out loud about using nuclear weapons in a tactical and supposedly ‘limited’ manner. That is tantamount to playing with fire. The international community of states has demonstrated its wisdom in moving beyond such concepts in the past. We must ensure that we achieve a binding global ban on the use of nuclear weapons, as the International Court of Justice did in a legal opinion ten years ago.

 

X STRENGTHENING OF CONVENTIONAL DISARMAMENT

 

It goes without saying that we must also do more to achieve disarmament in the field of conventional weapons, not least in the control of small and light arms. The issue here is not just one of regional military balances, but also of the devastating effect that these weapons have in private hands. Both the offenders and the victims are often to be found amongst the poorest of the poor.

 

 XI CONCLUSION

 

The SPD can look back on a long tradition as a party of peace. We are pleased that Europe is determined to exert a moderating and mediating influence on smouldering and armed conflicts.

 

Today’s conference marks the start of a renewed attempt to generate greater public awareness of this tradition and the intentions behind it and of course to put them on the political agenda. Our bitter experience has been that, while the threats to peace have clearly changed since the end of the confrontation between the two blocs, they have definitely not diminished.

 

It now gives me great pleasure to pass the floor to Dr. ElBaradei, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Authority.