THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
December 12, 2022 at 17:30 JST
HIROSHIMA—Expressing deep disappointment in nuclear disarmament talks this year, members of an international panel against nuclear weapons are planning new approaches to reignite momentum toward a nuke-free world.
The International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons said it will continue to meet to create a set of proposals for the 2026 Review Conference of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
For example, members said they are considering ways to share the experiences of atomic bomb survivors with broader audiences around the world to galvanize nuclear disarmament talks.
The first meeting by the panel, organized by the Japanese government, concluded in Hiroshima on Dec. 11.
Fifteen experts from nuclear powers and nonnuclear powers, including 13 from overseas, were invited to the two-day meeting.
At a Dec. 11 news conference, Takashi Shiraishi, who chaired the meeting, said discussions centered on three points: the outcome of the NPT Review Conference in August; the lack of momentum for nuclear disarmament in many countries; and the significance of arms control talks.
Shiraishi said many members expressed strong dissatisfaction with the 2022 NPT Review Conference, which failed to adopt a resolution because of opposition from Russia. Members discussed how to deal with the result.
Shiraishi, a scholar of international politics and chancellor of the Prefectural University of Kumamoto, also noted a wide discrepancy on how members viewed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which went into force in 2021.
On the lack of momentum for nuclear disarmament, Shiraishi said there was a consensus among participants that the general public and political leaders are not on the same wavelength on the issue.
As a first step to narrow the gap and regain momentum toward the abolishment of nuclear weapons, he said members agreed to create more opportunities to spread awareness of the issue among the public.
Conference members also exchanged ideas on how to push the nuclear-disarmament issue to the same level of public interest seen now toward climate change.
On the significance of arms control talks, Shiraishi said the participants agreed to place importance on dialogue that can improve the “mutual predictability” of countries’ diplomatic and military actions.
He praised the attendance of Anton Khlopkov, director of Russia’s Center for Energy and Security Studies, at the meeting as an example of an effort toward mutual predictability.
“Coming together and sharing each other’s thoughts despite their differences is a starting point,” Shiraishi said. “That will help in improving mutual predictability.”
Rose Gottemoeller, former U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs, told the news conference that mutual predictability between Washington and Moscow has been maintained due to their arms control talks over the past 50 years.
Gottemoeller had been involved in nuclear disarmament talks with Russia.
She said that mutual predictability between the United States and China will be necessary. But she added that it is “premature” to ask Beijing to join talks similar to the past U.S.-Russia negotiations because China’s nuclear arsenal is much smaller.
Gottemoeller also said she was greatly touched by a personal account given by an atomic bomb survivor in English.
Angela Kane, former undersecretary-general and high representative for disarmament affairs of the United Nations, also underscored the significance of hearing what a victim went through after the nuclear blast.
She said nothing is more moving than listening to a victim describe such an experience.
The International Group of Eminent Persons for a World without Nuclear Weapons is considering how to ask atomic bomb survivors to reach out further to audiences in other countries and territories about their experiences, Kane said.
Speaking at the closing session, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida gave high marks to the group’s first meeting, saying members engaged in candid discussions free from their countries’ stances.
The panel is expected to hold a second meeting in spring before Japan hosts the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima in May.
Kishida said Japan is seeking to deliver a strong message for a world without nuclear weapons at the G-7 conference.
(This article was compiled from reports by Hideki Soejima and Taro Kotegawa.)
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