15:36 GMT07 July 2020
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    While little oil-rich Norway enjoys the reputation of a peaceful country, the recent tirade about nuclear arms from its Foreign Minister Børge Brende might come as an eye-opener.

    In his opinion piece in the newspaper Dagbladet, Børge Brende lashed out against the idea of nuclear disarmament, which is supported by many Norwegian activists, and argued it was incompatible with NATO membership.

    According to Brende, the winding up of NATO's nuclear deterrence arsenal, which he for some reason called "unilateral," did not increase Norway's security, but, quite the contrary, led to strategic instability.

    "NATO wants a world without nuclear weapons, but as long as countries outside the alliance retain their nuclear arms, NATO will have to remain a nuclear-arms alliance as well," Børge Brende wrote. "The only way to get rid of these weapons is through balanced, reciprocal, irreversible and verifiable reductions, which contribute to stability and predictability."

    Brende waved aside popular arguments for a ban on nuclear arms, suggesting that they were unique in their deterrent effect and could thus not be compared with other weapons.

    "They add a completely different strategic and political significance and have never been used since Nagasaki. This threshold must be maintained," Børge Brende wrote, arguing that NATO's nuclear deterrence was simply meant to "prevent other nuclear-weapon states tempted to use nuclear arms."

    Brende suggested that Norway fully pursued its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Agreement. According to Brende, the Norwegian government made a critical effort to ensure that a nuclear agreement with Iran could come into force. Additionally, Norway is a driving force in limiting and eliminating the use of highly enriched uranium in the civil sector to prevent such material from being compromised.

    In late 2016, the UN General Assembly held a vote on a resolution to launch negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons in 2017. The resolution was supported by 123 countries. Norway voted no to the resolution, together with 37 other countries, of which 27 were NATO members.

    Earlier this month, Norway once again voted against the negotiations proposed last year. Norwegian officials made it clear that they won't even participate in such negotiations, claiming it would violate its obligations as a NATO member.

    This argument has firmly rejected by anti-nuclear activists in Norway and abroad. Filmmaker and journalist Erling Borgen, who is also a board member of Norway's anti-nuclear organization Nei til atomvåpen, said that it a "shame" for Norway, a nation that doles out the Nobel Peace Prize.

    However, unlike fellow Nordic nation Sweden, which ran a clandestine nuclear weapons program under the guise of civilian defense research between 1945 and 1972, Norway has never had nuclear arms or even nuclear power plants other than test reactors.

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    Tags:
    nuclear disarmament, nuclear weapons, nuclear deterrence, NATO, Borge Brende, Scandinavia, Norway
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