10 APRIL 2016
The G7 meeting scheduled for 10 and 11th April in Hiroshima should commit unequivocally to the total and complete elimination of nuclear weapons, not at some distant future date but immediately. It must do so as a security imperative of the highest importance.
One important, though not the only, step toward elimination is of course a Ban Treaty. Other elements include a framework of agreements, and a nuclear weapons convention. We do not need to wait until nuclear weapons have been eliminated, or for the support of the nuclear weapon states to bring any of these elements into being: Every weapon that has actually been eliminated has been banned before, not after, its final elimination. We urge the Japanese government and all governments to support both a ban treaty and other critical steps to the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Without such a commitment and a clear path to that elimination, there is no point – and indeed it is downright insulting – to hold a G7 meeting in a city that has become, through the untiring efforts of its residents and successive mayors, synonymous with nuclear disarmament/abolition.
A controversy has erupted over the potential use of the word ‘inhumane’ with respect to nuclear weapons.
This is ridiculous – especially as the compromise that has reportedly been reached allows reference to the ‘devastating consequences’ of nuclear weapons use. Surely this is a difference without a difference.
The proposed G7 statement thumbs its nose not only at the repeated use of the word ‘inhumane’ to characterize nuclear weapons in a number of UN General Assembly resolutions sponsored by Japan that have received overwhelming support from governments worldwide, but also at the fact that both the International Court of Justice’s 1996 judgment and the ensuing consensus of Governments worldwide is that nuclear weapons are, indeed, precisely, ‘inhumane’.
At bottom however it matters not a bit whether the G7 choose to call them ‘inhumane’ or merely refer to their ‘devastating consequences’.
What truly matters is that:
–Even ‘small-scale’ use of nuclear weapons would kill up to millions and would be a war crime of the highest order no matter what the circumstances that led to it.
–The use of a number of hundreds of nuclear weapons (in say an India-Pakistan conflict) would cause tens to hundreds of millions of immediate deaths and result in global climatic impacts causing famine that would last for decades.
–The use of a number of thousands of warheads (such as in a Russia/NATO conflict, a possibility that looks every day more likely) would cause the immediate deaths of as many as a billion people, and end what we call ‘civilization’. It would put a question-mark over human survival itself.
The elimination of nuclear arsenals – all nuclear arsenals – is a security, and indeed a human survival imperative, of the absolute highest priority.
This, and not the sensitivities (or even the security) of some of the G7, is what is truly at stake.
John Hallam
People for Nuclear Disarmament
61-2-9810-2598 61-2-9319-4296 (do not leave message)