On 10 November Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that the world needs to urgently pursue nuclear arms control and disarmament but it should be in a balanced, reciprocal and verifiable way.
“Our ultimate goal is a world free of nuclear weapons”, Mr Stoltenberg told NATO’s annual Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) conference. “Together, we have reduced the number of nuclear weapons in Europe by more than 90 percent over the past 30 years. But in an uncertain world, these weapons continue to play a vital role in preserving peace.”
The Secretary General specified that the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) provides the best chance to curb atomic arsenals, pointing to the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons that have been already eliminated. According to Jens Stoltenberg, the international community should strengthen the treaty and join forces to ensure the success of the NPT Review Conference next year.
Jens Stoltenberg rejected a UN treaty banning nuclear weapons as it would undermine the NPT and disregard current-day security realities. “Giving up our deterrent without any guarantees that others will do the same is a dangerous option”, he said. “A world where Russia, China, North Korea and others have nuclear weapons, but NATO does not, is not a safer world.”
The Secretary General called on the United States and Russia to continue to lead on arms control, welcoming the dialogue between the worlds’ two largest nuclear weapons states on extending New START. As a global power, Mr Stoltenberg made clear that China now also has the responsibility to engage in arms control negotiations.
This year NATO’s WMD conference was held online. The main reason is Covid-19 pandemic.