Above photo: Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer,Germany. Former Deputy-Chair of the Bundestag Sub-committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation.
34 current and former legislators from NATO countries sent a joint letter yesterday to United States President Biden encouraging him to adopt a policy of no-first-use (or sole purpose) of nuclear weapons in the current U.S. nuclear posture review, and to use the occasion of the 10th Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference in January 2022 to universalise this policy.
The call by the legislators contradicts recent reports that United States allies want the US government to retain the option of initiating nuclear war (first-use options).
“Let us state clearly that we do not believe that a first-use option is in the security interests of our countries or in the interests of NATO as a whole,” say the endorsers of the letter. “We encourage you to take leadership on this issue and we pledge our support.”
“There can be no justification of first use of these hideous weapons of mass destruction. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” – Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, Member of the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Future Generations. Endorser of the joint parliamentary letter to President Biden.
The letter, which is organized by the civil society coalition No First Use Global, highlights the current conflicts and tensions between nuclear armed and allied countries, the risks that these could escalate and the nuclear policies, such as the first-use option, that contribute to this.
“Rising nuclear weapons risks are a grave danger to humanity”, says Mounir Satouri, a French Member of the European Parliament Security and Defense Subcommittee and Member of the EP Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. “A global no-first use policy can reduce the risks these weapons of mass destruction pose.”
The parliamentary letter notes that No-First-Use policies would not only reduce the risk of nuclear war, but would also contribute to diplomacy and multi-lateral nuclear disarmament.
“We live in times of increasing tension in which the possession of nuclear weapons can create very dangerous situations.” says Holger Nielsen, Former Foreign Minister of Denmark and one of the endorsers of the letter. “Agreements about no-first-use will be important steps in the disarmament process.”
“The NPT sustains an international order and maintains international balance. First use leads to disorder and imbalance, exposing one of the greatest civilizational achievements – human rights – to inconceivable threat.” – Dr Milan Brglez MEP, Member of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee and Former Speaker of the Slovenian National Assembly. Endorser of the Joint Parliamentary Letter to President Biden.
The letter notes that cross-party delegations from European parliaments, the US Congress and Russian parliament have supported the adoption of no-first-use policies in declarations adopted by consensus by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. These include the Berlin Declaration (July 11, 2018) and the Tbilisi Declaration (July 5, 2016).
Since then, further support has been expressed in various statements and appeals including a June 10, 2021 Open Letter to President Biden and President Putin which was endorsed by over 1200 political, military and religious leaders, as well as legislators, academics, scientists and other representatives of civil society. More than 400 of these endorsers were from NATO countries, and nearly 700 from the USA.
“As we work towards global nuclear disarmament and an ultimate goal of a nuclear-free world, the importance of the United States adopting a No-First-Use (NFU) policy cannot be overstated. As a Canadian Parliamentarian, I strongly support all measures that lead to a safer, more secure and peaceful world for all and I encourage President Biden and the United States government to take this important step.” – Heather McPherson MP, Canada.Deputy whip of the New Democratic Party. Member of the Canada Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Endorser of the Joint Parliamentary Letter to President Biden.
The legislators endorsing today’s letter call on President Biden to ‘engage with the other recognized nuclear-weapon States in the P5 NPT dialogue (China, France, the UK and Russia) on adoption of no-first-use policies and the operational measures to implement them in order to build transparency, confidence and mutual security.’
Finally, the letter pledges parliamentary support for the implementation of no-first-use policies and other nuclear risk reduction and disarmament measures.
‘I believe that our world must be able to feel safe in trusting that men and women of good faith are discussing and negotiating national relationships, human rights, trade and defence matters in an open and trusting manner for the benefit of all.’ says Bill Kidd MSP, Convenor of the Scottish Parliament Cross-party Group on Nuclear Disarmament and Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.
The parliamentarians endorsing the letter come from Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Slovenia, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
“As a Senator from Belgium, a country that is an ally of nuclear states, Belgium, I raise my voice against the First Use of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are the most destructive weapons, with an impact that can never be proportional. Therefore, they should never be used.” – Senator Orry Van de Wauwer, Belgium. Alternate Member of Belgium Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. Alternate Member of Belgium Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. Endorser of the Joint Parliamentary Letter to President Biden.
Endorsers of the letter:
Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (UK)
Member, All Party Parliamentary Group on Future Generations.
Member All Party Parliamentary Group on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
Vice-President of the National Association of Local Councils.
Dr Milan Brglez MEP (Slovenia)
Member of the European Parliament Delegation to the EU-Russia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
Former Speaker of the Slovenian National Assembly.
Mr Sven Clement MP (Luxembourg)
Member of parliamentary committees on Finance & Budget and on Health & Sports.
Alternate Member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Mr Tony Colman (UK)
Former Member of the House of Commons.
Member, World Future Council.
Mrs Özlem Demirel MEP (Germany)
Vice-Chair, European Parliament Sub-committee on Security and Defence.
Dr. Ute Finckh-Krämer (Germany)
Former Deputy-Chair of the Bundestag Sub-committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation.
Dr Hedy Fry MP (Canada)
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Special Representative on Gender Issues.
Ms Alena Gajdůšková (Czech Republic).
Council Member, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).
Former Member of the Czech Senate.
Mr Andrej Hunko MP (Germany)
Member of the Bundestag and the Council of Europe.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (UK)
Leader of the Green Party in the House of Lords
Senator Farah Karimi (Netherlands)
Head of Netherlands Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
OSCEPA Special Representative on Youth Engagement.
Mr Jan Kavan (Czech Republic).
Member, European Leadership Network.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Former President of the UN General Assembly.
Dr. Franziska Kersten MdB (Germany)
Member of the Deutscher Bundestag.
Former Head of Unit at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
Mr Bill Kidd MSP (Scotland/UK)
Co-President, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (PNND).
Convenor, Cross-party Group in the Scottish Parliament on Nuclear Disarmament.
Prof. Dr. Dietmar Köster MEP (Germany)
Member, European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Member, European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the United States.
Dr. M. Sevki Kulkuloglu (Turkey)
Former Member of Grand National Assembly of Turkey.
Former Vice Chair of Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions.
Ms Aaja Chemnitz Larsen (Greenland/Denmark)
Chair, Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region
Baroness (Ruth) Lister of Burtersett CBE (UK)
Former Member, Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Fellow of the British Academy.
Former Director, Child Poverty Action Group.
Ms Heather McPherson MP (Canada)
Deputy whip of the New Democratic Party.
Member of the Canada Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
Baroness Sue Miller (UK)
Member, UK House of Lords.
Co-President, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.
Vice-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Security and Non-proliferation.
Mr Holger K Nielsen (Denmark)
Former member of parliament.
Former Foreign Minister.
Ms Eva Quistorp (Germany).
Former Member of the European Parliament.
Co-founder, Women for Peace, Germany
Rt Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG QC (UK)
Board Member, European Leadership Network.
Former Foreign Secretary. Former Defence Secretary.
Senator Pierrette Ringuette (Canada)
Officer of the Ordre de la Pléiade.
Member, Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
Dr (med) Tina Rudolf MdB (Germany)
Member of the Bundestag.
Former Member, Jena City Council Climate Advisory Board.
Mr Mounir Satouri MEP (France)
Member of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Member of the European Parliament’s Security and Defence Sub-Committee.
Mr Christoph Schmid MdB (Germany)
Member of the Bundestag.
Former Mayor of Alerheim.
Lord Thomas of Gresford OBE, QC. (UK).
Member, UK House of Lords.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Attorney General.
Dr Andrea Varga-Damm MP (Hungary)
Member of the Hungarian Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Senator Orry Van de Wauwer (Belgium).
Alternate Member of Belgium Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Alternate Member of Belgium Delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
Mr Thore Vestby (Norway)
Former Vice-President of Mayors for Peace
Mr Karsten Voigt (Germany)
Member of the European Leadership Network.
Former President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
Former German-American coordinator in the Federal Foreign Office.
Ms Uta Zapf (Germany)
Member, European Leadership Network.
Former Chair of the Bundestag Sub-committee on Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation.
Founding Co-President of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament (PNND).