Vienna, 13 February 2014 Press release

Kurz: “Paradigm Shift in Nuclear Disarmament is overdue”

Austria announces international conference in Vienna. Global movement puts humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in the center of the debate

Vienna, 13 February 2014 – “Nuclear weapons are not only a permanent threat to all humankind but also a relic of the cold war that we must finally overcome. The international nuclear disarmament efforts require an urgent paradigm shift, not the least in light of the danger of further nuclear weapons proliferation”, said Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz on the occasion of the international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons that starts today in Nayarit, Mexico.   

Nuclear disarmament is a global task and a collective responsibility. As a member state committed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Austria wants to do its share to achieve the goals of this treaty. I will invite to a follow up international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons to take place in Vienna later this year”, said Kurz to explain the Austrian efforts and government program in the area of nuclear disarmament.  

According to new research, even a limited regional nuclear conflict would cause devastating global consequences for health, food security, climate, economy and the social order much beyond the immediate humanitarian emergencies. “This danger is by no means abstract. It is a Sword of Damocles above our heads and should be at the center of international efforts. Moreover, the possibility of a nuclear explosion by accident, misjudgment or terrorism constitutes a considerable risk that we need to be aware of. Reliance on nuclear weapons is an outdated approach to security. A concept that is based on the total destruction of the planet should have no place in the 21st century”, underlined Kurz.  

This discourse is especially necessary in Europe, where cold war thinking is still prevalent in security doctrines. 100 years ago, the era of weapons of mass destruction commenced with the devastating use of chemical weapons in World War I. In a today united Europe, we should use the commemoration to also make every effort to move beyond nuclear weapons, the most dangerous legacy of the 20th century”, requested Kurz.  

Vienna is the seat of the only global organization dealing with nuclear issues. The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) are vital to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons. Despite reductions in the numbers of nuclear weapons since the end of the cold War, however, the number of nuclear weapons is still sufficient to extinguish human civilization. At the same time, the number of nuclear armed states has risen and the technological hurdle to build these weapons is getting lower. Austria therefore holds the position that the prevention of nuclear weapons can only be achieved in conjunction with credible and irreversible nuclear disarmament and the international stigmatization of nuclear weapons.  

In the event of a nuclear explosion, governments and relief organizations would not be in a position to provide humanitarian assistance adequate to the scale of the emergency. For this reason, Austria considers the close cooperation with these organizations and civil society at large an essential element to build the broad international support that is necessary for the elimination of nuclear weapons.   

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