NATO: No First Use of
Nuclear Weapons as an Essential First Step
Towards a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World
November 27, 1998
The German initiators of the International Network
of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation (INESAP) demand
a No-First-Use pledge for nuclear weapons as an essential step
towards a nuclear-weapon-free world. We support the initiative
by the German Foreign Minister for a No-First Use in NATO and
demand further steps leading to complete nuclear disarmament.
The decision of Germany and 11 further NATO member states, not
to vote against resolution A/C.1/53/L.48 "Towards a Nuclear
Weapon Free World: The Need for a New Agenda" in the UN First
Committee on 13. November 1998 is a courageous step and a signal
that even within NATO there is opposition against the indefinite
reliance on nuclear weapons.
NATO's nuclear first-use doctrine, stemming from
the darkest ages of the Cold War, is completely anachronistic.
It is based on the premise of a massive conventional attack of
the Warsaw Pact in Central Europe. None of the underlying assumptions,
which were already questionable in earlier times, have any justifiable
basis, neither in Europe nor elsewhere. Striking first is not
defensive, neither against supposed aggressor states nor against
terrorists. The threat of striking first is also in complete contradiction
to the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice
which declared the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons to
be generally illegal. First use would be illegal in any case.
The insistence of the US government on the first-use doctrine
is an indicator that the last remaining superpower wants to keep
the right to use nuclear weapons any time against any point on
this planet. No other country should find this acceptable. As
long as this threat persists, more developing countries could
follow India and Pakistan to seek reliance on nuclear weapons,
undermining the whole non-proliferation regime. A No-First-Use
would be the bare minimal step, signalling the willingness of
the nuclear weapon states to diminish the nuclear threat.
No-First-Use could be a first but should not be
the last step. Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty as well
as the International Court of Justice demand complete nuclear
disarmament. No nuclear weapons state can change this fact. What
is required is an on-going international negotiation process on
the step-wise transformation of the insufficient non-proliferation
regime into a new regime of a nuclear-weapon-free world. How this
could be done was examined in an expert study of INESAP "Beyond
the NPT - A Nuclear-Weapon-Free World" that was presented
in April 1995 in New York, as well as in a number of studies by
other organizations and individuals that followed. This study
sketches a path towards a nuclear-weapon-free world, combined
with a process of negotiating a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC)
as a legal framework to ban and eliminate all nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the call for the NWC has been expressed by more than
1000 international non-governmental organizations and citizen
groups (Abolition 2000) as well as by more than two thirds of
all States in UN resolutions of the years 1996, 1997 and 1998.
A model NWC that was drafted by an international Committee of
lawyers, scientists and disarmament experts is now an official
UN document (UN doc. A/C.1/52/7).
Even though the path towards a nuclear-weapon-free
world cannot be planned in all details in advance, the required
steps can only be negotiated and realized if the goal is clear.
The necessary political initiatives have to be taken now. As a
non-nuclear-weapon state and NATO member, Germany has a considerable
political weight and a special responsibility.
Therefore, we urge the new German government to
insist on its independent path and to take an active role to initiate
negotiations on the elimination of all nuclear weapons, aiming
at the Nuclear Weapons Convention as a binding framework of international
law. It would be consequent and in accordance with the government
coalition agreement if the German delegation at the UN would not
only abstain on disarmament resolutions in the UN General Assembly
but would vote "Yes". What is most pressing is that
Germany makes an end to the first-use doctrine and pushes for
the removal of all nuclear weapons from its own territory, a dangerous
remainder of past ages.
* Dr. Wolfgang Liebert, Dr.Jürgen Scheffran (Darmstadt, Germany),
Dr. Martin Kalinowski (Vienna, Austria) Nov.27, 1998. Contact:
INESAP, c/o IANUS, Darmstadt University of Technology, Hochschulstr.10,
D-64289, Darmstadt, Germany; Tel: +49(6151)164368 (secret.), fax:
+49(6151)-166039, email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org,