Senior experts and officials from over fifty countries and organisations gathered in Reykjavik yesterday to discuss the state of global arms control treaties. The two-day conference will cover topics ranging from ballistic missile proliferation and the use of chemical weapons by states and terrorists, to the future of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The conference, the 14th of its kind, is being chaired by NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, Ambassador Alejandro Alvargonzález. NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson, Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, gave the opening speeches at the beginning of the conference yesterday.
In his speech, Thórdarson declared his support for further disarmament efforts. “There is an urgent need to apply more energy, more creative thinking and even more resources to the disarmament and arms control efforts, not only as regards weapons of mass destruction but also on conventional weapons, emerging technologies and hybrid threats.”
At the same time, Thórdarson emphasised the importance of supporting existing treaties. “Iceland considers that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should continue to be the cornerstone of disarmament efforts in the nuclear field. If we are ever to reach the goal of nuclear weapons free world, the countries which have nuclear arsenals must commit and those outside join the treaty. Under current circumstances the international community should limit its ambition to safeguarding the existing commitments.”
Today, the Institute of International Affairs of the University of Iceland hosts a seminar in conjunction with the annual NATO conference. The seminar, which is held in collaboration with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister, will address the actions of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international cooperation, including the role of non-governmental organizations.