Two years have passed since George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn revived the idea of a nuclear weapon-free world. In the meantime, leaders from many other countries have joined in. President Obama has done the same. They have all referred to concrete measures that can bring us closer to the goal.

The four American leaders underlined the relationship between vision and action: “Without the bold vision, the actions will not be perceived as fair or urgent. Without the actions, the vision will not be perceived as realistic or possible”. To create such a dynamic interplay, we have to be serious both about the vision and about the measures. We call on all to do so, as strongly as we can.

The goal must be a world where not only the weapons, but also the facilities that produce them are eliminated. All fissile materials for military ends must be destroyed, and all nuclear activities must be subject to strict international control.

The United States and Russia, which together account for more than 90 per cent of the world’s arsenals, must take the first steps. They should reduce their arsenals to a level where the other nuclear weapon states may join in negotiations of global limitations. All agreements must be balanced and verifiable and provide enhanced security at lower levels of arms. While reductions are going on, mutual deterrence will remain a basic principle of international security.

All types of nuclear weapons – also the tactical ones – must be included in the negotiations. We urge Russia, which has big arsenals of tactical weapons, to accept this.

Today, there is the risk that nuclear weapons will proliferate to more states as well as to non-state actors and terrorist networks. The latter want nuclear weapons in order to use them. Together with the US and many other countries, Norway has participated in programmes to control and destroy nuclear materials and ready-made weapons. A major increase in the funding for such programmes is urgently needed.

Establishment of missile shields should be avoided, for they stimulate rearmament. Nuclear powers which do not have such shields will seek countermeasures to maintain their retaliatory capabilities. Others fear that for those who have a shield, it will be easier to use the sword. Ongoing missile defence plans and programmes should therefore be subordinated to the work for comprehensive nuclear disarmament.

While new negotiations are set in motion, existing agreements must be maintained. That goes for the INF Treaty, which eliminated intermediate-range systems from Europe, and for the CFE agreement on conventional force reductions that was concluded as the Cold War drew to an end. Also, it goes for the American-Russian presidential initiatives of 1991/92 on withdrawal and elimination of American and Russian tactical weapons. Above all, it goes for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which is currently under pressure. In connection with next year’s review conference for the NPT, it is important to reconfirm the validity of the principles on which it is built: non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Holding the chair of the seven-nation initiative, Norway may contribute to the successful conclusion of this conference.

This article was originally published in Norwegian by Aftenposten

Odvar Nordli, Gro Harlem Brundtland, KåreWilloch and Kjell Magne Bondevik are former Prime Ministers of Norway. Thorvald Stoltenberg is a former Foreign Minister of Norway.