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The P5 boycott of Oslo

March 1, 2013

by Ira Helfand

Participants began to gather this evening for the ICAN Civil Society Forum on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, and most of the talk has been about the decision by the P5, the permanent members of the Security Council and the owners of the world’s largest nuclear arsenals, to boycott the official government conference which begins on Monday.

So far 129 governments have registered to attend that historic event, which will seek to refocus international discussion about nuclear weapons on the catastrophic harm these weapons can actually cause.  Among the participants at the parallel civil society conference, the P5 boycott is seen as a serious mistake on their part and a clumsy attempt to deflect the growing call for nuclear disarmament.

Officially the P5 are saying that the conference will be a diversion from their step by step efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear war.  But participants here do not understand how a conference that highlights the dangers these weapons pose could possibly undermine efforts to eliminate them.  Rather it is believed that the P5 are concerned that non-nuclear weapons states are becoming increasingly impatient with the slow pace of disarmament negotiations, and will organize to pressure the P5 to meet their obligations, under Article  VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, to negotiate the complete elimination of these weapons.

The failure of the P5 to attend this Conference is seen as powerful evidence of the need for non-nuclear weapons states to do just that.

Dr. Helfand is co-president of IPPNW

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