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NATO Goes Anti-Nuclear?


NATO Goes Anti-Nuclear?
Support for nuclear disarmament has spread to the heart of the Atlantic alliance and beyond.
By Alice Slater | Foreign Policy In Focus | March 9, 2010

President Obama's call for a nuclear-weapons-free world in Prague last April unleashed a great outpouring of support from international allies and grassroots activists demanding a process to actually eliminate nuclear weapons. One recent and unexpected initiative has come from America's NATO allies. Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway have called on NATO to review its nuclear policy and remove all U.S. nuclear weapons currently on European soil under NATO's "nuclear sharing" policy. Despite U.S. insistence on strict adherence to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits the transfer of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear weapons states, several hundred U.S. nuclear bombs are housed in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey.

Citing Obama's announcement in Prague of "America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," the NATO allies have broken ranks with the United States. All five governments are experiencing domestic pressure to end the hypocrisy of the NPT, where nuclear "haves" disregard their disarmament requirements with impunity while using coercion, sanctions, threats of war, and even actual war (as in Iraq) to prevent the nuclear "have-nots" from acquiring nuclear bombs. Together with calls from major former political and military leaders to eliminate nuclear weapons, as well as UN Secretary General Ban-ki Moon's proposal for a five-point program "to rid the world of nuclear bombs," these NATO members have seized the political moment. They have decided to do their part to maintain the integrity of the NPT in advance of the five-year review conference this May at the UN in New York.

The NATO five put NATO's nuclear policy on the agenda for an April strategy meeting in Estonia. They have neither been dissuaded by Obama's cautionary note that the goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world "will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime," nor discouraged by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's mistaken qualification of Obama's remarks when she said that "we might not achieve the ambition of a world without nuclear weapons in our lifetime or successive lifetimes" (emphasis added). Read more.

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