Tim Wallis, ED of Nuclear Ban US reports from Vienna

We have just finished the first round of Nuclear Ban Week in Vienna, with two days of the ICAN nuclear ban forum. We have been over 600 people here in Vienna, with 50 events and over 100 speakers over two days. We have heard via video from the prime minister of New Zealand and the foreign minister of Austria. We have heard in person from survivors of nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands and Nevada, as well as survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As we prepared for the first meeting of States Parties to the TPNW that starts on Tuesday, we got word that NATO members Belgium and the Netherlands have decided to attend this meeting together with Germany and Norway. Australia, another nuclear ally of the United States, will also attend after recent elections resulting in a new prime minister who is committed to the TPNW.

Tomorrow, over 60 parliamentarians from 30 countries will be meeting in preparation for attending the msp as unofficial observers from their countries. These include Bill Kidd MSP and at least 3 MPs from Westminster. Other countries represented tomorrow include France, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Canada and Japan. Despite, or perhaps because of, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the feeling here in Vienna is definitely of the momentum moving in our favour and towards the abolition is nuclear weapons.

“Big change looks impossible when you begin but inevitable when you reach the goal,” said Brian Fitzgerald, of Greenpeace. “If you’re not working on something impossible, perhaps then you are not working on something big enough”

Lots of practical planning and organizing for the next stage of the campaign, which is about getting more NATO and nuclear weapons states on board. This means working more closely with parliamentarians and local authorities, but also more efforts to divest and work with other movements to broaden our efforts.

Kat Knack Watt, attending with Scottish CND added,

“The Nuclear Ban Forum in Vienna thus far has been a whirlwind of moving survivor stories, informational panels, and insightful conversations.

At a conversation on preparing for the First Member States Party, Tim Wright and Alicia Sanders-Zakre discussed the four NATO observer states Norway, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium. Australia will also be observing.

While The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons welcomes observer states, Tim Wright emphasised the importance of discouraging “fence-sitting”, lest it becomes a “comfortable compromise” for NATO countries. 

Dr Rebecca Johnson speaking at the ICAN Forum