Statement on the UN Resolution to Negotiate a Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
November 1, 2016
We welcome the historic resolution adopted by the UN General Assembly First Committee “to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” (http://reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com16/resolutions/L41.pdf) This decision, taken on October 27, 2016, represents a possible breakthrough in nuclear disarmament, given thedeadlock in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) as well as a recent stall in bilateral nuclear disarmament between the US and Russia. One hundred and twenty-three countries (mostly non-nuclear weapon states plus the DPRK) supported this historic resolution, clearly a majority of the international community.
However, as expected, four major nuclear weapon countries (US, Russia, France, UK) are against it and three other nuclear weapon countries (India, Pakistan, China) abstained. It is unlikely that they will participate in the negotiations leading to the Treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.
It is also regrettable to see that most of the non-nuclear weapon states that fall under the umbrella of extended-nuclear-deterrence--such as NATO countries, South Korea and Japan--also opposed this measure. It should be noted that The Netherlands, a NATO member, abstained.
In particular, we were deeply disappointed that Japan voted to oppose the resolution. As the only country that has suffered from nuclear attacks, Japan has the responsibility to take a leadership in global efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons; this is what Prime Minister Abe affirmed when US President Obama visited Hiroshima this May. The decision to vote against the resolution was not consistent with his promise, and betrayed all hibakusha (nuclear bomb survivors) as well as an overwhelming majority of the Japanese public.
We, Pugwash Japan, strongly encourage the Japanese government to participate in negotiations leading to the prohibition of nuclear weapons, and to explore specific means to be a bridge between the nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states. We also urge the Japanese government to work with civil society to shift Japan’s security policy towards one without dependence on nuclear deterrence, without which the elimination of nuclear weapons will never be possible.
Chair, Pugwash Japan