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OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT PUTIN

Dear President Putin,
We are writing on behalf of a number of civil society organisations in Europe concerning the dangers presented by the presence of nuclear weapons and we are also writing a similar letter to President-elect Biden of the United States of America (copy attached). Like the vast majority of the global population, we look forward to a time when nuclear weapons have no place anywhere in the world, and, as a step towards that, we campaign for Europe to join other regions as a nuclearweaponfree zone.

There is now an urgent need for a real and meaningful process of détente with the United States and with other countries in NATO. Whatever logic there appeared to be in a nuclear weapon mutual deterrence during the Cold War has now disappeared and it is time now for states to work together in good faith against the common threats of climate change and pandemic. To do this will require an international climate of trust and understanding and a retreat from confrontation and the imminent danger of a possible nuclear war either by design or accident. However, the process of negotiating nuclear weapons out of existence will be a major task for your administration.

Your Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has recently confirmed that you are in intensive contact with the Americans regarding strategic stability problems. We all know that a critical first step must be for you and the United States to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), for the 5th February 2021 is the very last day when such an extension can be agreed before the treaty lapses.  The extension of New START by you and the new US President would be a tremendous boost to détente. Indeed, it would open the possibility of moving towards the end of nuclear weapons which, like the climate emergency, threaten the very existence of humankind.

We commend to you the taking of a first step. Who knows how far along the path you may travel? However, like all journeys, this will begin with that first step.

Yours sincerely,

Reiner Braun,
Executive Director, International Peace Bureau

Dear President-Elect Biden,

May we offer you our congratulations on your victory in the U.S. Presidential election.

We are writing on behalf of a number of civil society organisations in Europe concerning the dangers presented by the presence of nuclear weapons and we are also writing a similar letter to President Putin of Russia (copy attached). 

Like the vast majority of the global population, we look forward to a time when nuclear weapons have no place anywhere in the world, and, as a step towards that, we campaign for Europe to join other regions as a nuclearweaponfree zone.

There is now an urgent need for a real and meaningful process of détente with Russia”. Whatever logic there appeared to be in a nuclear weapon mutual deterrence during the Cold War has now disappeared and it is time now for states to work together in good faith against the common threats of climate change and pandemic. To do this will require an international climate of trust and understanding and a retreat from confrontation and the imminent danger of a possible nuclear war either by design or accident. However, the process of negotiating nuclear weapons out of existence will be a major task for your administration.

A critical first step must be for you to honour your commitment to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). As the 5th February 2021 is the very last day when such an extension can be agreed before the treaty lapses, your immediate action as President will be a tremendous boost to détente. Indeed, it will open the possibility of moving towards the end of nuclear weapons which, like the climate emergency, threaten the very existence of humankind.

We commend to you the taking of a first step. Who knows how far along the path you may travel? However, like all journeys, this will begin with that first step.

Yours sincerely,

Reiner Braun,
Executive Director, International Peace Bureau

Open letter to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Dear Mr Stoltenberg,

In a unique consortium of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and Willy Claes, one of your predecessors in the position of NATO Secretary General, we write to you on the occasion of the entry into force of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and in anticipation of the postponed 2020 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference later this year, with the urgent request to reconsider your organisation’s opposition to the TPNW, as expressed in your recent statement on the matter on 15 December 2020.

We agree with your statement that the upcoming NPT Review Conference presents a major opportunity for the international community to achieve full implementation of the NPT. We differ, however, over your assertion that the TPNW would undermine that objective. The TPNW is a complementary treaty to the NPT, which gives further effect to Art. VI of the NPT.

Moreover, the TPNW provides an opportunity to further fulfil NATO’s mandate to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression. You stated that ‘as long as nuclear weapons exist, NATO will remain a nuclear alliance’. It is exactly that stalemate of armed peace and nuclear deterrence that has to be broken. We must go beyond non-proliferation towards full abolition in order to attain a more stable peace for the benefit of all.

While we recognise that NATO has reduced the number of nuclear weapons stationed in Europe since 1995, we deplore the fact that between 150 and 200 US nuclear weapons remain present in central Europe, addition to the French and British nuclear arsenals. They are a concrete challenge to your claim that NATO has caused a reduction in nuclear arms since the end of the Cold War.

We agree that the engagement of nuclear possessing states is crucial to a successful ban of nuclear weapons. It is for this very reason that NATO’s support or neutrality vis-à-vis the TPNW is of significant importance.

Mr Stoltenberg, as advocates for peace representing workers and peace activists in all NATO Member States, we are extremely concerned about the prospects of a deep recession and economic slowdown and the tensions it will generate in and between nations. In such a volatile security context, the risk of the use of nuclear weapons becomes all the more imminent. Nuclear weapons need to be banned urgently.

But common security requires more than military defence. Lasting peace can only be built on social justice and democracy. As well as the COVID-19 pandemic, we face glaring inequalities and a climate 2 emergency. Against that backdrop we are also concerned about a new nuclear and conventional arms race at a time when the world is in dire need of investment in green and decent jobs, social protection, education, care and other social infrastructure.

At the same time, we are sensitive to the fact that while a majority of people in many NATO Member States are in favour of their country joining the TPNW, billions are being contracted out by Member States to a handful of companies without public scrutiny in order to live up to NATO defence investment guidelines.

The world requires a new social contract to deliver real and common security.

We are calling on your leadership to direct NATO strategy towards common security based on multilateralism and the international rule of law, including support for the TPNW. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss how we can support you in this endeavour at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

Sharan Burrow – ITUC, General Secretary

Beatrice Fihn – ICAN, Executive Director

Reiner Braun – IPB, Executive Director

Willy Claes – NATO, Former Secretary General