Norway ‘shamed’ over ‘nuclear nod’

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Opponents of nuclear weapons were claiming that Norway should be ashamed of itself, for once again failing last week to support a UN resolution to ban them. Another 123 countries had already agreed to negotiate a “legally binding instrument to forbid nuclear weapons.”

Foreign Minister Børge Brende (left) and Prime Minister Erna Solberg are usually active supporters of UN resolutions, but not one involving a potential ban on nuclear weapons. Anti-nuclear activists call that a “shame for Norway.” PHOTO: Statsministerens kontor

Norway instead joined the US, Russia, Great Britain, France and 33 other countries in voting against the negotiations proposal last December. China, India, Pakistan, Japan and South Korea abstained. When the proposal to actually ban nuclear weapons came up for a vote late last week, Norway had no intention of supporting it.

Norwegian officials have claimed that it couldn’t even participate in the negotiations for the measure that won support over the weekend, claiming it would violate its obligations as a member of the NATO defense alliance.

That argument is firmly rejected by anti-nuclear activists in Norway and abroad. “It’s a shame that Norway is not part of this,” declared Erling Borgen a filmmaker and journalist who is also on the board of Norway’s anti-nuclear organization Nei to atomvåpen.

Borgen told newspaper Dagsavisen that several international anti-nuclear activists have condemned Norway for its “hypocritical” stand on the proposed ban. They include, according to Borgen, “well-known activists” like Setsuko Thurlow, who survived the bombing of Hiroshima, and Abacca Anjain-Madison from the Marshall Islands, who was affected by nuclear testing in the Pacific.

“They call the Norwegian position on this a shame, and believe that the country that doles out the Nobel Peace Prize must reverse it,” Borgen said.

Frode Ersfjord, who heads Nei to atomvåpen, said the proposed UN ban on nuclear weapons is the product of 71 years of negotiations. “The nine countries with nuclear weapons have fought hard to avoid this, precisely because it will immediately have a strong political effect,” Ersfjord told Dagsavisen. The measure will prohibit any use of nuclear weapons, or nuclear physical explosions, along with the threat of using them.

The resolution will be open for signing from September 20, and Borgen claimed that then Norway must at least do so. “Norway has to wake up on this,” he said, adding that he hopes it will become an issue in the upcoming parliamentary election campaign.

“We’re living in frightening times politically, when many countries threaten use of nuclear weapons,” Borgen said. “The nuclear weapons powers have had the podium for 20 years, now we’re banking on a prohibition that in fact will stygmatize those who use nuclear weapons.” He claims NATO is no hindrance to the UN measure, claiming there’s no problem with being a member of NATO and opposing weapons of mass destruction. Berglund