Vienna, 13 February 2014 – Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz today announced that Austria will host an international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons in Vienna later in 2014, to follow-up on conferences on this issue held in Norway in March 2013 and opening in Mexico today.In a press statement released by the Austrian Foreign Minsitry, Kurz said that “Nuclear disarmament is a global task and a collective responsibility. As a member state committed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Austria wants to do its share to achieve the goals of this treaty. I will invite to a follow up international conference on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons to take place in Vienna later this year.”
Kurz noted that “Reliance on nuclear weapons is an outdated approach to security. A concept that is based on the total destruction of the planet should have no place in the 21st century… This discourse is especially necessary in Europe, where cold war thinking is still prevalent in security doctrines.
Kurz also spoke about lessons from the use of chemical weapons in Europe 100 years ago. “The era of weapons of mass destruction commenced with the devastating use of chemical weapons in World War I. In a today united Europe, we should use the commemoration to also make every effort to move beyond nuclear weapons, the most dangerous legacy of the 20th century”.
Vienna is the seat of two global organizations dealing with implementation and verification of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament agreements – the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
Austria also played a leading role in the agreement of States Parties of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2010 that “All States need to make special efforts to establish the necessary framework to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons,” noting “the Five-Point Proposal for Nuclear Disarmament of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, which proposes inter alia the consideration of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention or a framework of separate mutually reinforcing instruments backed by a strong system of verification”.
Thus, Vienna is a most suitable location for such an important conference.