Joint effort to curtail first-strike policy

Kyodo News

Japan and Australia will jointly seek to reinforce assurances against the use of nuclear weapons on nonnuclear states at the upcoming Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty review conference, according to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

Under a package of proposals on disarmament and nonproliferation, nuclear-armed states are called on to take, as soon as possible, such measures as providing “stronger negative security assurances” of not using atomic weapons against nonnuclear states that comply with the NPT.

“We will have discussions with other partner countries and do our utmost so that this package will be reflected in the final document of the NPT review conference,” Okada said Tuesday, referring to the key meeting in May in New York.

The NPT designates the U.S., Britain, China, France and Russia as nuclear-weapons states. They made statements in 1995 that they would give security assurances against the use of nuclear weapons to nonnuclear weapon states that are parties to the NPT.

But the statements, except from China, left room for exceptions. Japan and Australia want the security assurances to be thoroughly implemented through their proposal, which they have titled the “New Package of Practical Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation Measures.”

The package of 16 proposals also calls on all states possessing nuclear weapons to make an early commitment to reducing, or at least not increasing, their arsenals and to commit to reducing the role of nuclear weapons in their security strategies.

It emphasizes that countries that withdraw from the NPT should not be allowed to use nuclear materials or equipment for nonpeaceful purposes acquired while it was a party to the treaty.

Okada and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith agreed during talks in February in Australia to work out the package.