Iceland was not one of the 122 countries that approved an international ban on nuclear weapons at a special session of the United Nations last week. Iceland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs told reporters that he did not believe the ban was “realistic”, but said Iceland supports a “nuclear weapons-free world”.
As RÚV reports, while many countries approved the ban, many also chose not to participate. The United States, for one, harshly criticised the measure, and Holland was the only country to actually vote against it. Iceland was amongst the countries that abstained from participation.
“We have always supported the notion that we should have a nuclear weapons-free world, and we want nuclear weapons to be dismantled in a mutual manner,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson told reporters. “But it speaks for itself that the nuclear powers not participating in this ban means the practice isn’t realistic.”
Guðlaugur added that nuclear weapons have been reduced by 95% since the Cold War, “under the leadership of NATO”. However, it bears mentioning that NATO still possesses the majority of nuclear weapons in the world, and the reduction of nuclear weapons actually slowed down during the Obama presidency.
When asked whether he will push for further disarmament within NATO countries, Guðlaugur responded: “Of course we will do what we can in that area, and there is solidarity on this issue within NATO. That’s why nuclear weapons have been decreasing. But this is done under the condition that this is a mutual operation. So NATO and other countries will not tolerate that some other country, like North Korea for example, is the only country with a nuclear weapon. I think that no one would want that.”