157 states gather in Austria for global meeting on nuclear weapons

(8 December 2014, Vienna), After boycotting previous meetings held in Norway and Mexico to examine the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, the UK has now decided to participate in the latest conference of this initiative in Vienna, Austria on 8-9 December 2014. The UK government’s decision to participate comes after the United States announced its intention also to take part in the conference.

“As one of the few countries in the world that wields nuclear weapons, we are pleased to see the UK reverse its boycott and join the other 156 governments that will be in Vienna. The UK should come prepared to explain what the effects of its nuclear weapons would be on people and the environment”, said Thomas Nash, director of UK weapons monitoring NGO Article 36, a part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

“Other countries should call for a diplomatic process towards a treaty banning nuclear weapons, whether the nuclear armed states support it or not”, Nash added.

Based on evidence from states, the international movement of the Red Cross and the United Nations agencies, previous conferences of this initiative have concluded that there could be no adequate response if one or more nuclear weapons were to be detonated, either intentionally or by accident.

In light of this overwhelming evidence, campaigners say that governments can no longer ignore the unacceptable humanitarian threat of these weapons and must immediately begin negotiations for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

Parliamentarians attending the Vienna Conference said:

“A global ban treaty on nuclear weapons would present the greatest challenge to the UK’s renewal of Trident”, said Dame Joan Ruddock MP.

“Nuclear weapons are an obscenity, but if a country has chosen to possess them then they simply cannot hide from the humanitarian consequences that come with the weapons. It is long past time that the UK faced up to this fact, and I hope that this conference will be the start of that process”, said Bill Kidd Member of the Scottish Parliament.

“Whilst the UK and USA have been late in confirming their attendance, I welcome the presence of nuclear weapon states, including my own. We cannot afford to be absent from such a hugely important gathering”, said Julie Ward, Member of the European Parliament for the North West of England.

“The humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons is hugely important around the world, especially in countries like Scotland that have been made home to weapons of mass destruction” said Westminster SNP Leader Angus Robertson MP.

CONTACT

Laura Boillot, +44(0)7515-575-175 (in Vienna)

Thomas Nash, +44(0)7711-926-730 (in Vienna)

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