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Nuclear free world?

September 23, 2010

Ten countries, including Germany, have joined together to call for a world without nuclear weapons. The new initiative comes as Germany tries to boost its chances of being elected to a seat on the UN Security Council.

Anti-nuclear protester
None of the 10 countries in the initiative has nuclear weaponsImage: AP Graphics

Germany, joining together with nine other countries, has called for renewed efforts to work towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York, the 10 countries launched a new initiative to work towards a world without nuclear weapons.

Foreign ministers, led by Japan and Australia, hope to bring new life to efforts for nonproliferation and disarmament. Their mission statement said: "The only guarantee against the use and threat of nuclear weapons is their total elimination."

Germany's anti-nuclear stance

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said they hope to make use of a "window of opportunity" after US President Barack Obama announced disarmament efforts earlier this year.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
Westerwelle wants US nuclear arms held on German soil outImage: AP

Westerwelle also warned about the risk of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

"The more states that arm themselves with nuclear weapons, the greater the risk that terrorists have access to nuclear weapons," he said.

The foreign minister said this would be "a major threat to security and humanity."

Germany is one of Europe’s leading voices in advocating non-proliferation and disarmament, and Westerwelle has a record of pressuring the US to move faster on removing its weapons from European soil.

The initiative includes Canada, Chile, Germany, Mexico, Poland, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates – none of which owns nuclear weapons.

The next meeting of the initiative - called the Cross-Regional Group on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament - will be in Berlin, said Westerwelle.

A Security Council seat

The launch of the new initiative comes as Germany tries to boost its chances of being elected to a seat on the UN Security Council.

The UN Security Council at a vote
Germany was last on the UN Security Council in 2003-04Image: AP

Five of the 10 non-permanent seats on the Council are to be replaced when their term ends in December. Germany is competing against Canada and Portugal for one of two non-permanent seats on the Security Council reserved for Western States.

Just before leaving for New York, Westerwelle said Germany’s "chances are good" but said they would have to "work hard at it" until the election.

The non-permanent members are elected by the General Assembly, and Germany would need two-thirds of the 192 members to vote for them.

German attempts to join the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia as a permanent member of the council have been unsuccessful in the past. However it has been a non-permanent member on four occasions, the last in 2003-2004.

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa/AP)
Editor: Andreas Illmer