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Anförande vid Global Zero Summit

Anförande i Paris, Frankrike

Once upon a time, the combined national security elite of my country was convinced that we had to develop nuclear weapons. The reasons for this were numerous.

For some they were just the modern weapon that a modern nation must have.

For others it was a question of maintaining a credible defence in a world in which we could be confronted by military threats from nuclear nations - read: the Soviet Union.

Substantial resources were invested in building up our capabilities of actually producing nuclear weapons, aimed at having by the mid-1960's a force of approximately 60 warheads.

But - as I hope you are all aware of - this never happened.

And the reason it never happened was not primarily a moral revulsion against these weapons of mass destruction, although such sentiments had their role in part of the public debate at the time.

At the end of the day the decision - final and formal in 1968 - to renounce the nuclear option was driven far more by the national security realists than by the political moralists.

Part of this was the belief that - in spite of not being a member of Nato - we were de facto covered by the extended deterrence of the US nuclear umbrella.

But as important was a cool-headed analysis of all the problems that a national nuclear capability would bring. Some serious war-gaming certainly played its role in this process.

I'm mentioning the Swedish experience not primarily because I know it, but because I think it has some relevance.

To renounce the nuclear option can - and should - be based on a cool calculation of the sort that national security at the end of the day must be based on.

It is from a hard look at what it would really mean to use these weapons that a true conviction of the need to seek their elimination really springs.

Since then no one has ever contemplated going back on the decisions gradually made during the decade when we went from the first doubts in the late 1950's to the final decision in the late 1960's.

Part of the background to the decision of the time was also the hope that international efforts would curb the further spread of nuclear weapons.

The first test bans were important for us - remember that the largest nuclear tests ever took place in the Arctic areas not too far from our borders.

Developments in the decades since then are known to all of us here today.

After a horrendous build-up of nuclear arsenals during the Cold War, we have seen the United States and Russia dramatically reducing their nuclear arsenals since then.

That's undoubtedly very positive.

When the Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed in 1968 there were five declared nuclear weapon states. But since then at least four new nations have been added.

And we have now arrived at a very critical point.

Either we all take decisive steps forward in further reducing nuclear arsenals and preventing a further spread of nuclear weapons, eventually taking us closer to the goal of a world free of these weapons.

Or we face the very serious risk of the non-proliferation regime eroding and paving the way for a development that would significantly increase the risk of these weapons being used with catastrophic and unforeseeable effects.

I do believe that there is now a greater possibility of moving down the first of these paths than has been the case for a long time.

Talks between Washington and Moscow on the further reduction of their strategic nuclear arsenals are proceeding, and a new agreement should be with us shortly.

Although there are still limits on how deep cuts they believe they can accept in a world with also other nuclear powers, and absent guarantees and agreements also in other areas, a new agreement should reflect the reality that these are now weapons of the past with a rapidly diminishing strategic utility.

Based on this, strategic arsenals should be in the hundreds rather than in the thousands.

There are obvious reasons why these talks are focused on what is referred to as strategic weapons or their means of delivery. That was the way in which the efforts to curb the nuclear arms race started.

But from my particular European perspective I would urge for an agreement on further limits on strategic arms to be followed by talks aimed at reductions also on sub-strategic nuclear weapons.

The actual numbers of these so called tactical nuclear weapons are obviously closely held secrets.

The recent report by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament indicates that the United States possess approximately 500 active warheads while Russia is believed to have around 2000 of them.

Originally many of these weapons were designed and built to be used on the battlefields of Europe.

We now know that the plans that were in place for their use would have brought destruction to such an extent that civilisation in our part of the world would in all probability have ceased to exist.

That many of these weapons still exist can probably be explained more by bureaucratic inertia than by any strategic rationale. They have not been eliminated primarily because there has been no agreed process on their elimination.

Together with my Polish colleague Radek Sikorski I am now urging the leaders of the United States and Russia to commit themselves to early measures to substantially reduce these so called tactical nuclear weapons in Europe.

We do understand the difference in that Russia is a European power, but we still urge Moscow to make the commitment to withdraw these nuclear weapons from areas adjacent to European Union member states - the Kaliningrad and Kola areas are of particular importance in these respects.

And it would make sense, pending their eventual elimination, for these remaining weapons to be withdrawn to central storage facilities in the United States and Russia that could also be monitored and verified in different ways.

Although there are different types of warheads in the sub-strategic category, it remains exceedingly difficult to see any true strategic rationale for any of them.

In and around Europe I can see no conceivable scenario in which their presence - not to speak about their use - would make any sense whatsoever from the point of view of the one or the other side.

An agreement on substantial further reductions of strategic warheads and a commitment on substantial reduction measures also on sub-strategic level would send a strong message to the entire international community as we are now fast approaching the NPT Review Conference in May.

All nuclear weapon states and signatories to the NPT have clear commitment, but it goes without saying that the world is looking primarily at the two leading military nuclear powers when it comes to taking the further steps that now are so necessary.

Apart from the steps mentioned, I would also hope that it will be made clear in the strategic postures and military doctrines of these and other countries that the sole purpose of remaining nuclear weapons should be strategic deterrence, and under no circumstances will anyone of them contemplate their first use. The United States and Russia should be prepared to take the lead in issuing such declarations.

Along with ratification of the CTBT - where of course the role of the United States will be of particular importance - this will go a long way towards taking the world on the first of the two possible paths I indicated earlier.

These steps would be of critical importance in creating a political atmosphere in which we could take the steps necessary to curb the risk of further proliferation of these weapons.

Much is at stake.

The past few decades has seen nuclear weapons entering into the complicated security situation of South Asia. And we are all aware of the fact that this has also resulted in the further spread of technologies critical to the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

But now it is the situations in both East Asia and the Middle East that have reached new and dangerous tipping points in terms of the risks of further nuclear proliferation.

If we think about the likely cascades of nuclear proliferation likely to flow out of failure to contain and reverse the present trends in these two areas it is very obvious that we are at a most critical point.

I don't think that Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear weapons would be driven primarily be a perceived failure by the United States and Russia to further reducer their arsenals. Numerous other factors might be more important.

But I am convinced that further efforts by the leading nuclear powers are necessary in order to mobilize the broad international consensus that will be important in meeting the proliferation challenges coming out of both North Korea and Iran.

In order to be able to argue for standards and rules to be observed, we cannot be accused of having double standards or different rules for different categories of nations.

We have profound disagreements with the regime in Teheran on a number of issues. We have been truly appalled by the repression we have witnessed since the presidential election last June.

But this must not prevent us from trying to seek an agreement that ensures Iran's respect of its international obligations - notably the decisions of the UN Security Council.

We have no interest in a slide towards confrontation, and we have every interest in creating as solid guarantees as possible that Iran will not develop and deploy nuclear weapons.

The difficulties inherent in this are very obvious, but we should not talk us into saying that it could not be done. As a matter of fact - at the end of the day there is no other way in which it even can be done.

While dealing with this issue we cannot ignore the question of zones free of nuclear weapons, and perhaps in particular the resolution calling for the establishment of such a zone in the Middle East adopted by the 1995 Review Conference.

And I believe we should also deal with the different thoughts on the table concerning the possibilities of multilateral arrangements for sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle.

There are 370 nuclear reactors operating in the world today, but forecasts from the International Energy Authority here in Paris indicate that our efforts to limit the warming of our planet to no more than 2 centigrade by the reduction of carbon emissions could create the need for 18 new stations every year in every part of the world.

This includes also the oil- and gas-rich countries of the Middle East. It is not illegitimate of them to seek also nuclear power to provide for the electricity they need for their future development.

And we should be prepared to discuss with all of them the multilateral arrangements that could be necessary to secure their access to different fuel services in the future.

The aim that brings us together here in Paris today is a world in which the threat of the use of nuclear weapons is eliminated and the weapons themselves have disappeared.

We all know that this cannot be achieved tomorrow.

In his visionary speech in Prague last April, President Obama indicated that it might not even be achieved in his lifetime.

But our task must be - in the words of the UN Security Council from September last year - "to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons."

And this requires steps along the lines I have indicated to be taken now - we are at a critical point in time. The Action Plan of Global Zero indicates that a world free of nuclear weapons could be achieved by 2025.

The recent report of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament sets its medium term goal of achieving what it calls the minimization point by that year.

The future will tell what will be achieved.

And the future will know that what happened during these very days, weeks, months and perhaps years was what decided which path the world then followed.

A path towards escalating proliferation and the eventual almost unavoidable use of these weapons by states, by terrorists or by both with possible cataclysmic consequences.

Or a path towards the gradual elimination of these weapons and a world in which we could jointly focus on meeting all of the other challenges on our agenda for the future.

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