Jordan Senate holds special session for Nuclear Abolition Day

PNND Global Coordinator Alyn Ware in the Jordan Senate

Jordan Senate screens 'The Man Who Saved the World"

President of the Senate calls for a Midddle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone and for countries to make use of the United Nations to resolve conflicts.

‘As parliamentarians we should unify our efforts with the United Nations to achieve international peace and security through the elimination of nuclear weapons.
His Excellency Mr Abdur-Rauf Rawabdeh, President of the Jordan Senate. September 29, 2015

On September 29, the Senate of Jordan held a special session on nuclear abolition which was attended by all 75 members of the senate, along with media and a few special guests. It featured the screening of a 30-minute section of the movie The Man Who Saved the World (with Arabic subtitles), along with an introduction by Senator Salwa al Damen Masri, a statement by His Excellency Mr Abdur-Rauf Rawabdeh President of the Jordan Senate (original in Arabic), and a presentation by Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator.

His Excellency Mr Abdur-Rauf Rawabdeh, President of the Jordan Senate, speaking at the event
His Excellency Mr Abdur-Rauf Rawabdeh, President of the Jordan Senate, speaking at the event. Also on the panel are Alyn Ware, PNND Global Coordinator, and Senator Marouf AL Bakheet, former Prime Minister.

The event was proposed by Senator Salwa al Damen Masri (PNND Council member) and organised by a committee chaired by Senator Abdel elah Alkhatib with assistance of Muna Makhamreh (PNND Coordinator for Arab Countries). It was held as a follow-up to the resolution adopted by the Inter Parliamentary Union in 2014 calling on all 166 member parliaments to commemorate the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which is officially on September 26.

The movie highlights the incident on September 26, 1983, when a nuclear weapons exchange nearly occurred due to satellite information received by the Russian nuclear command and control centre, falsely indicating an incoming US nuclear attack.

The movie provided a stark reminder to Jordan Senators of the risks of nuclear weapons use by accident, miscalculation or intent – especially during times of high conflict between nuclear-armed States.

His Excellency Mr Abdur-Rauf Rawabdeh noted that these risks are very real in the Middle East where “terrorist organisations are increasingly supported by weapons and money, and might acquire a nuclear weapon”, and where “Israel’s insistence on possessing nuclear weapons and its refusal to join the Non-Proliferation Treaty will most likely lead to a nuclear arms race in the region.”

For this reason, Mr Rawabdeh noted that “it is vital to increase political will for a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons”, and to “support the Iran deal as an important step towards the achievement of such a zone.”

Mr Rawabdeh also noted that security must be sought without reliance on nuclear weapons, and that countries must “activate the United Nations Charter that bans war and stipulates that conflicts should be resolved through negotiations and international law.”

Mr Ware commended Jordan on its leadership in international peace, diplomacy and humanity, including by opening its doors to refugees from armed conflict in the region, and by supporting regional and global initiatives for nuclear abolition.

Senator Salwa al Damen Masri opening the special event in the Jordan Senate

He  commended the Senate of Jordan, in particular, for its actions in support. “The Wave Goodbye to Nuclear Weapons which you did in the Senate during the 2015 NPT Review conference was noted favourably by governments and parliamentarians, and highlighted by Global Wave 2015 which circulated the video on face-book and other social media.”

Mr Ware noted that “The Senate of Jordan was also instrumental in the adoption of the 2014 Inter Parliamentary Union resolution. I pay special tribute to Senator Salwa al Damen Masri from the Jordan delegation to the IPU, who served on the drafting committee for the resolution, and ensured that it called on all member parliaments – including those of the nuclear armed States – to support complete nuclear abolition.”

Mr Ware also highlighted the role of the United Nations General Assembly, and the likelihood that this October it will consider two key draft resolutions: one on establishing a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, and one to establish a UN Open Ended Working Group to begin the deliberations and negotiations on a treaty or package of agreements to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.

If an Open Ended Working Group is established, parliamentary support will be important to move the governments to negotiate in good faith, and hopefully be ready to adopt a nuclear disarmament agreement at the UN High Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament that will be held in 2018.

Alyn Ware, Semator Salwa al Damen Masri, His Excellency Mr Abdur-Rauf Rawabdeh and Muna Makhamreh in front of the Senate.

The presentations were followed by some discussion including on the case lodged in the International Court of Justice against the nuclear armed States by Marshall Islands, and a proposal that Jordan should support by intervening in the case. There was general support for this proposal.  

There was also further discussion on the Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone proposal. Dr. Marouf  AL Bakheet, former Foreign Minister, noted that the same high level political attention that was given to securing the nuclear non-proliferation deal with Iran, should also be given to bringing Israel into the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and placing Israel's nuclear facilities under international safeguards. Only then would it be possible to achieve such a zone.

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