"So far we’ve been relying on bilateral treaties between the US and Russia, given that they don’t particularly focus on the interests of the states in between, for example, the EU states… It’s high time for the EU states to take their security interests into their own hands, and demand that the Iran deal is not being withdrawn from, that the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] treaty is not being withdrawn from," Hoffmann-Axthelm said.
The comment referred to the United States withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in early May and an announced intention to leave the INF treaty with Russia in late October.
"This is just one example of many where we have the international treaty framework falling apart… We have to demand that states abide by these treaties, that they join the prohibition of nuclear weapons… and that they start serious negotiations on the nuclear disarmament," Hoffmann-Axthelm added.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), adopted by the overwhelming majority of world nations in 2017, is an effective tool to prevent new states from acquiring nuclear weapons, but it is not going to lead to nuclear disarmament, Hoffmann-Axthelm stressed.
"If we want states like the US and Russia, who are both investing heavily in the nuclear arsenals to reduce the number of nuclear weapons with which they put the entire planet at risk, than we have to formulate much more forcefully, with much more pressure the fact that the nuclear arms are unacceptable, can never be used in line with the humanitarian law," he pointed out.
According to Hoffmann-Axthelm, the key task is to change the perspective and international law, surrounding nuclear weapons, because once it is done, one can hold the nuclear arms states to account and ask them to justify their continued reliance on nuclear weapons.
Yet, disarmament is a political rather than technical problem because what could be seen at the moment is "the nuclear arms states claiming that they want to disarm, but simply not doing it," Hoffmann-Axthelm noted.
"Now, with the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons adopted in 2017, we have a multilateralisation of the disarmament process. So it gives a lot more power to the majority of states that do not have nuclear weapons and do not need nuclear weapons, and respects their security interests," he underlined.
ICAN, launched in 2007, was awarded a Nobel Prize last year "for its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons."