Japanese, New Zealand Officials Press Global Ban on Nuclear Weapons

Leaders in Japan and New Zealand this week separately called for steps toward establishing a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons (see GSN, Aug. 6).

"The international community must act now by taking the first concrete steps toward concluding the Nuclear Weapons Convention," Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue said on Thursday at the city's yearly observance of the U.S. atomic attack at the end of World War II. 

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said his country had a "responsibility" to advocate for global nuclear disarmament, Kyodo News reported.

Japan is the only nation to be attacked with atomic weapons. The United States dropped an atomic weapon on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, three days before striking Nagasaki (Kyodo News/Japan Times, Aug. 9). 

Opposition politicians in New Zealand called for their government to assume a leadership role in convincing the global community to adopt a ban on nuclear weapons, NZ Newswire reported on Friday.

"One thing is certain -- if nobody starts such a process, there certainly won't be any such treaty," Labor Party foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff said.

Goff noted there is support among multiple political parties for such an accord. The New Zealand legislature's foreign affairs panel is backing a public appeal by peace activists for Wellington to "actively engage" with other nations on negotiating a nuclear weapons convention.

"Officials were reluctant to support something which they though didn't have much chance of success because major powers wouldn't participate in such negotiations, but the committee concluded otherwise," Goff said.

"We are aware of the complexity and difficulty of negotiating a convention of this sort, but that doesn't mean we have to give up on the idea," Labor disarmament issues spokeswoman Maryan Street said.

The desired accord would formally outlaw the creation, possession and employment of atomic armaments.

Such a treaty is nowhere on the horizon in today's strategic environment. Even U.S. President Obama, who has declared his hope for a world without nuclear weapons, has nonetheless confirmed that the United States would hold onto an atomic arsenal of some size as long as such weapons are found in other nations.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty allows for five formal atomic powers -- China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea are also known or widely assumed to operate nuclear-weapon programs. There are also widespread concerns about the intentions of Iran's atomic operation  (NZ Newswire/Yahoo!News, Aug. 10).

August 10, 2012

Leaders in Japan and New Zealand this week separately called for steps toward establishing a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons.