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Oslo is getting ready for tomorrow’s Nobel Award

December 9, 2009

By Ira Helfand

Ira Helfand speaks about a nuclear-weapons-free world on the eve of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

This evening a number of organizations sponsored a forum “How to Build Momentum towards a Nuclear Weapons Free World.”   Alyn Ware, the coordinator of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, and I were the speakers.

I discussed the unique situation we are in with a US President who seems to share our understanding of the urgent need for nuclear disarmament, and identified an ongoing failure to appreciate the scope and immediacy of the nuclear danger as the key road blocks to a real transformation of nuclear policy.

Alyn spoke about the experience of New Zealand where a strong national understanding of these dangers was created leading to New Zealand playing a major leadership role in movement for nuclear disarmament.  He also discussed the need for US allies to make clear that they do not want a US nuclear umbrella in order to counter the growing argument that the US needs to maintain its huge nuclear arsenal to meet our obligations to our allies and to dissuade them from developing their own nuclear arsenals.

Norway is emerging as a potentially pivotal player in the upcoming Non Proliferation Review Conference.  The Foreign Minister has said that if the NPT conference does not go well, Norway will seek negotiations for a Nuclear Weapons Convention outside the NPT framework.  The attendees at the meeting also spoke about the vocal role Norway can play in the NATO review of nuclear policy currently underway.

The forum was sponsored by the Norwegian Atlantic Committee, The Norwegian Peace Council, No to Nuclear Weapons, The Norwegian Pugwash Committee and IPPNW Norway.

Tomorrow, the peace community is planning a torch light procession to  the Grand Hotel where President Obama will be staying and where the Nobel Dinner will take place. There will also be a second march which will protest US and NATO presence in Afghanistan.

There is a lot of speculation about what Obama will say in his address which takes place at 1 pm Oslo time.

I’ll update you after the speech.

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