Westerwelle: “Disarmament Policy Is Peace Policy”
Enlarge image (© Photothek / Th. Köhler) Foreign Minister Westerwelle has been advocating nuclear disarmament while in Kazakhstan. He was in the Kazakh capital, Astana, to take part in the Forum for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World on August 29. The program of his visit also includes talks with Kazakhstan’s president and foreign minister and a meeting with representatives of civil society.
In his speech to Kazakhstan’s international Forum for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World, Foreign Minister Westerwelle emphasized the unprecedented importance of disarmament and non-proliferation in an ever more interconnected world.
He explicitly commended the country for its role in the pursuit of a world without nuclear weapons. After the Soviet Union had been broken up, Kazakhstan decided against nuclear weapons and dismantled its arsenal. Westerwelle highlighted the fact that “although nearly 500 nuclear weapons were tested in Kazakhstan during the Soviet era, Central Asia has now become a region free of nuclear weapons.”
The need for a test ban
Minister Westerwelle spoke in favor of a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing as an important step towards a world without nuclear weapons. “Our aim,” he said, “is a worldwide ban on nuclear tests.” Germany is the nuclear-test-ban organization’s third-largest donor. The German government is also working to see the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) enter into force.
The CTBT is a key component of the whole nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation system and a crucial complement to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The CTBT aims to prevent the development and procurement of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear-weapon states. It is also intended to prevent nuclear-weapon states from developing new additions to their arsenals. Since being drawn up, it has been signed by 183 countries, 157 of which have ratified it. However, it can only enter into force once it has been ratified by 44 of the countries listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty. Eight of the “Annex 2 countries” have yet to ratify.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle said in Astana that support for a world without nuclear weapons was growing across the globe. He pointed out that progress in the areas of strategic nuclear weapons now ought to be followed up with similar progress on other weapons systems such as sub-strategic nuclear weapons. Germany, he pledged, would not let up in its commitment to this work, since “disarmament policy is peace policy.”
As well as participating in the Forum for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World, Westerwelle will engage in talks with President Nazarbayev and Foreign Minister Kazykhanov during his stay in Astana. He will also meet representatives of civil society and German trade and industry.
The onward journey: Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuwait
From Kazakhstan, Minister Westerwelle will travel on to Beijing on August 30 to take part in German-Chinese intergovernmental consultations. On August 31 and September 1 he will then be in Hong Kong, where he will meet the chief executive of the Special Administrative Region, Leung Chun-ying, and give a lecture on the situation in Europe to the Asian Society.
The final leg of his journey will take Minister Westerwelle to Kuwait for September 1-2. His engagements there include meetings with the foreign minister and the crown prince.