Tuesday, October 27, 2009

German "Mayors for Peace" (of the Hiroshima-based NGO) behind recent move to remove US nuclear missiles from Germany

Ramesh Jaura of Indepth News reports that German "Mayors for Peace" (of the Hiroshima-based NGO), in collaboration with other German peace NGOs, were behind the recent move to remove US nuclear missiles from their country:
The new conservative-liberal coalition government wants the United States to withdraw all nuclear weapons still deployed in Germany despite the fall of the Berlin Wall, end of the cold war and re-unification twenty years ago.

Confirming the goal, Chancellor Angela Merkel and designated Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle announced Oct 25 and the previous day that they would take up the issue with the U.S. administration. Observers said this might happen when Merkel travels to Washington to address the U.S. Congress on November 3. After Konrad Adenauer who spoke to both houses in May 1957, she will be the second German chancellor to do so...

Foreign Minister Westerwelle left no doubt about his resolve to have nukes out of Germany when he addressed his party rally here Oct. 25. He said the new German government would support the vision of U.S. President Barack Obama for a world free of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, he added: "We will take President Obama at his word and enter talks with our allies so that the last of the nuclear weapons still stationed in Germany, relics of the Cold War, can finally be removed. Germany must be free of nuclear weapons."
The US maintains around 20 nuclear missiles in Germany.

Around fifty peace groups comprise the German chapter of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

IPPNW campaigners have been pressuring parliamentarians since 2007 on the issue of disarmament. The liberal FDP, Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen (the Green Party) and Die Linke (the Left Party) have taken strong positions on the withdrawal of the nuclear weapons, repeatedly tabling motions in the Parliament.

However, the outgoing Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union of Bavaria/Social Democratic Party grand coalition voted to maintain nuclear weapons. Even though the SPD had pledged to work for withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Germany in its policy programme, it could not vote in favour because of the coalition agreement with the conservative CDU-CSU.

After the election of a new political coalition in September, German peace activists jumped on their opportunity:
...the IPPNW campaign council sent letters to all the negotiators. Ten Conservative 'Mayors for Peace' wrote to Chancellor Merkel and asked her to make the issue of disarmament 'Chefsache' (top priority) and end nuclear sharing. The German affiliate of Mayors for Peace supports the campaign "our future – nuclear weapon-free".

The Mayors for Peace NGO is composed of cities around the world that have formally expressed support for the programme announced by Takeshi Araki, the Mayor of Hiroshima, in 1982. The cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were assaulted by U.S. atomic bombs in August 1945, reducing the two cities within minutes to rubble and killing hundreds of thousands.

Araki proposed on June 24, 1982 at the 2nd UN Special Session on Disarmament a ‘Programme to Promote the Solidarity of Cities toward the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons’. This proposal offered cities a way to transcend national borders and work together to press for the abolition of all nuclear weapons.

Subsequently, the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki called on mayors around the world to support this programme. The organisation is now supported by 554 cities in 107 countries and regions. Mayors for Peace is recognised by the UN as an official NGO.

Mayors for Peace aims to build solidarity and facilitate coordination among cities around the world. Its primary goal is to raise awareness regarding nuclear weapons abolition. It is also formally committed to pursuing lasting world peace by addressing starvation, poverty, refugee welfare, human rights abuses and environmental destruction.

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