WCC Delegation to Non-Nuclear NATO States

Tasneem Jamal

World Council of Churches to Encourage Non-Nuclear NATO States to Play More Proactive Role on Nuclear Disarmament,Remove Nuclear Weapons from Their Territories

A World Council of Churches (WCC) delegation will meet ministers and official government representatives of three non-nuclear NATO states this week. The purpose of the meetings is to ask these states to take a more pro-active role within the organization to fulfill nuclear disarmament obligations undertaken in the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The WCC delegation is visiting Budapest, Oslo and the Hague during their week-long trip (see programme below). It will encourage the Hungarian, Norwegian and Dutch governments to take specific actions to bring NATO’s security doctrine and policies into conformity with the NPT’s obligations. The delegation will also meet NATO officials in Brussels at the end of the trip.

“This is the time for NATO leadership to take demonstrable and measurable steps to advance nuclear disarmament,” said Peter Weiderud, director of the WCC Commission of Churches in International Affairs (CCIA). “If they fail to act the NPT will be increasingly jeopardized,” he added.

The WCC delegation will encourage the three states to make a particular effort to have the assertion that nuclear weapons are “essential to preserve peace” eliminated from NATO security doctrine. It will also urge them to affirm the goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons as essential to the security of NATO states and the entire world.

Among concrete and immediate measures to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in security policies, the alliance will be asked by the WCC delegation to remove all nuclear weapons from the territories of its non-nuclear states, and to return them to their owner states.
The three states will also be urged to further encourage nuclear weapon state members of the alliance to reduce the alert status of strategic nuclear weapons, to formally reject launch-on-warning procedures, to halt all research into the development of new nuclear weapons, and to give national pledges of no-first-use.

The concern about nuclear weapons – which has been on the WCC agenda since its foundational assembly in 1948 – was the subject of a statement issued by its executive committee meeting in February 2004. The committee reiterated its “grave and ongoing concern that certain policies and practices of nuclear weapon states undermine international progress toward nuclear disarmament.”

The statement also called on “churches in the context of the Decade to Overcome Violence to renew their witness for peace and disarmament through education, public awareness building and advocacy to overcome the continuing threat of nuclear weapons.”

The WCC delegation will be joined by local church leaders in each capital. It is composed of:

  • HE Archbishop Dr Nifon of Targoviste, member of the WCC executive and central committees and of the WCC’s Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (WCC/CCIA) (Romania)
  • Rev. Dr Ineke Bakker, general secretary, Council of Churches of the Netherlands (Netherlands)
  • Mr. Ernie Regehr, CCIA/WCC commissioner , director of Project Ploughshares (Canada)
  • Mr. Peter Weiderud, CCIA/WCC director (Sweden

Among the meetings scheduled are the following:

Budapest, 29 March

  • Mr. Ferenc Juhász, minister of Defence, and Mr Imre Iváncsik, state secretary
  • Mr .Gábor Bródi, deputy secretary responsible for NATO nuclear policy development

Hungarian delegates

  • Rev. Dr Bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei (Reformed)
  • Rev. Bishop Imre Szebik (Lutheran)
  • Rev. Zoltán Tarr, WCC central committee member

Oslo, March 30

  • Mr Kim Traavik, vice minister/state secretary MFA

Norwegian delegates

  • Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary, Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations
  • Rev. Ørnulf Steen, general secretary, Christian Council of Norway
  • Rev. Dr Trond Bakkevig, WCC central committee member

The Hague, March 31

  • Mr Maurits Jochems, director, Security Policy Department, Ministery of Foreign Affairs
    Brussels, April 1
  • Mr John Colton, NATO assistant secretary general for Defence Policy,

To join the WCC delegation:

  • Rev. Ruediger Noll, director, Church and Society Commission of the Conference of European Churches (CEC)

Media contacts

Delegation: Mr Peter Weiderud +4176 431 4800

Geneva: Ms Salpy Eskidjian +4122 791 6314

Budapest: Rev. Áron Csoma / Rev. Bertalan Tamas +36 6 30 638 6647

Oslo: Rev. Ornulf Steen +47 22 932 797

Brussels: Rev. Ruediger Noll + 32 2 230 1732

More information on WCC and nuclear weapons is available here.

WCC 2004 executive committee statement on the NPT.

For further information, please contact Juan Michel, WCC media relations officer, tel: +41 22 791 6153, mobile +41 79 507 6363, media@wcc-coe.org

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