Brussels Meeting on NATO Nuclear Weapons Policy

Tasneem Jamal

NATO member states, including Canada,  reviewed NATO’s nuclear arms and security policies during 2000 and issued a report on this review in December, 2000.  On October 5 and 6, 2000 in Brussels an international conference on nuclear arms was organized by Project Ploughshares and the Conference of European Churches with the sponsorship of the World Council of Churches and in consultation with Canadian and US church councils.  This gathering of church representatives from many countries and denominations was updated on nuclear weapons concerns by researchers in security and arms control and, as well, on the NATO review by a senior NATO official.  The Communiqué from the conference is as follows:

Brussels, Belgium
October 6, 2000

An international gathering of church representatives met in Brussels on Oct 5 and 6, 2000 to explore effective church responses to the current NATO review of its nuclear arms control and security policies. Present were American, Canadian, and European church staff with responsibility for public policy issues, individuals from related denominational and ecumenical committees and institutions, and representatives of the Canadian Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, and the World Council of Churches. They were assisted by researchers in security and arms control, and benefitted from a session with a senior NATO official.

The consultation reminded the churches that the end of the Cold War has not meant an end to the threat of nuclear conflict and nuclear proliferation. While the recent Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference ended with “an unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapon states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals,” many other recent developments undermine progress toward nuclear disarmament. Notably, the defeat of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the US Senate, the nuclearization of South Asia, and the retention of Cold War-era nuclear postures by the United States and Russia have tended instead towards the indefinite retention and even the spread of nuclear capabilities. The looming prospect of missile defence deployment threatens further damage to nuclear arms control and disarmament efforts.

As part of the review process, NATO will over the next few months be making key decisions that will do much to determine the future of nuclear weapons and nuclear arms control and disarmament efforts. With that in mind, the consultation agreed:

  1. to recommend to the ecumenical community that it should engage directly with the current NATO Review process with a view to encouraging NATO states and NATO itself to conform to the obligations undertaken in the Non Proliferation Treaty; and
  2. to impress upon churches the need to re-energise their peace witness and, within the framework of the Decade to Overcome Violence to undertake education, public awareness activity, and advocacy regarding the continuing threat of nuclear weapons.

For more information contact Salpy Eskidjian, Program Executive,
International Relations, World Council of Churches.

Tel: 41 22 791 6111

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