UAE joins “Austrian Pledge” calling for urgent steps to Nuclear Disarmament

The Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has decided to endorse an Austrian Pledge on supporting international efforts to expedite nuclear disarmament. The initiative aims to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons in light of their unacceptable humanitarian consequences and associated risks.

The "Austrian pledge" was announced by Austria in the framework of hosting and chairing the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in December 2014.

The conference was attended by representatives from 158 countries, as well as international and civil society organizations. The Austrian Pledge refers to the commitment made by the endorsing States to transfer important facts and results from the Conference to various relevant international fora.

Under the Austrian Pledge, endorsing States call on parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to renew their commitment to the urgent and full implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations under Article VI, and to this end, to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

The Pledge also calls on States that possess nuclear weapons to take concrete interim measures to reduce the risk of nuclear weapon detonations. This includes reducing the operational status of nuclear weapons and moving nuclear weapons away from deployment into storage. The aim is to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in military doctrines and to rapidly reduce of all types of nuclear weapons.

The Austrian Pledge outlines, amongst other issues, the importance of nuclear disarmament due to:

• The unacceptable harm that victims of nuclear weapons explosions and nuclear testing have experienced and recognising that the rights and needs of victims have not yet been adequately addressed;
• Understanding that the immediate, mid- and long-term consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion are significantly graver than it was understood in the past and will not be constrained by national borders;
• That the consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion and the risks associated with nuclear weapons concern the security of all humanity;
• The scope of consequences of a nuclear weapon explosion and risks associated raise profound moral and ethical questions that go beyond debates about the legality of nuclear weapons.

On the occasion of the UAE joining the Austrian Pledge, H. E. Ambassador Hamad Alkaabi, UAE Permanent Representative of UAE to the IAEA, stated that “the UAE endorsement of this initiative is consistent with the country’s overall Government nuclear policy objectives toward strengthening nuclear non-proliferation on the one hand, and pursuing efforts to achieve global nuclear disarmament on the other hand.

He also mentioned that the UAE has participated in the series of three conferences on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.

He added, “the UAE government shares the aspiration of a world free of nuclear weapons and therefore calls for urgent steps to achieve this goal.”