Non-nuclear states to meet in Sweden, shore up disarmament support

More than a dozen non-nuclear states, including Canada, Germany and Japan, were due to meet on Tuesday in Sweden in a bid to shore up support for nuclear disarmament.

The meeting would focus on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), since it covers most countries and a review conference of the treaty is due next year, said Margot Wallstrom, foreign minister of host country Sweden.

“The NPT is the cornerstone of international action for disarmament and non-proliferation,” Wallstrom said in a statement.

Other topics in Stockholm include how to increase transparency regarding nuclear arsenals and how to reduce the risk that nuclear weapons are deployed.

“We didn’t want to begin by inviting countries that can prevent us from moving ahead. We wanted to gather ambitious countries that want to do something,” Wallstrom told Swedish television.

Among the top officials expected in Stockholm is German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said “the treaty was in acute crisis.”

“Nuclear nations should better live up to their commitments on steps towards disarmament, while we have to prevent more countries from acquiring nuclear weapons,” he added.

Maas visited Tehran on Monday for talks with Iranian leaders amid rising tensions in the region.

Iran and world powers in 2015 signed an agreement aimed at preventing Tehran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal.

The United States last year withdrew from the deal and has launched a raft of  sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Countries invited to Stockholm included Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain and Switzerland.