Press Conference, United Nations. Statement by Vernon C. Nichols on the Presentation to the United Nations of 13 Million Signatures in support of the Abolition 2000 Campaign.

Members of the Diplomatic Missions to the United Nations, members of the press and fellow Non-Governmental Organization representatives: I am Vernon C. Nichols and I represent the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation at the United Nations. Today, I am speaking in place of its President, Dr. David Krieger, who is also one of the leaders of Abolition 2000. I currently serve as President of the NGO Committee on Disarmament.

It is an honor for me to participate in the presentation of the more than 13 million signatures in support of nuclear arms abolition to the UN and its announcement at this press conference. I commend Soka Gakkai International and its youth for the dedication shown by its members in this magnificent work. This is the kind of citizen activity which Abolition 2000 encouraged.

Abolition 2000 is a global network of nearly 1100 citizen action groups in over 75 countries. It grew from an abolition caucus at the 1994 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference and has become a major citizens’ voice in the global movement for nuclear weapons abolition. It calls on all governments, but especially the nuclear weapons states, to commit themselves to three things:

First, end the nuclear threat by withdrawing all nuclear weapons from foreign soil and international waters, separating warheads from delivery vehicles, and commiting unconditional “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons.

Second, sign an international treaty – a Nuclearn Weapons Convention – by the year 2000, agreeing to the phased elimination of all nuclear weapons within a fixed period of time.

Third, reallocate resources from military purposes to assuring a sustainable global future.

We believe that such a coalition can have a similar kind of success as that we have witnessed by the Coalition to Ban Landmines. The Soka Gakkai 13 million petition signatures show the strength of peoples’ hopes and prayers for peace, and the abolition of nuclear weapons as a vital component of that peace. Other important steps are the abolition appeals of the retired admirals and generals. Also the June 9th call for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide by the eight nations in the New Agenda Coalition, including this appeal, “The International Community must not enter the third millenium with the prospect that the maintenance of these weaposn will be considered legitimate for the indefinite future, when the present juncture provides a unique opportunity to eradicate and prohibit them for all time.”

David Krieger, President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, wrote an Open Letter to President Clinton in response to the nuclear testing by India and Pakistan. He concluded, “We must either move toward the total elimination of nuclear weapons, or we must expect further proliferation of these weapons to other states. In many respects the choice is yours. I hope that you will choose wisely – both for yourself and for humanity.” Thank you.