Confab calls for action to outlaw nukes before 70th anniversary of bombings

Kyodo

A major conference drawing representatives from more than 140 countries ended Friday with an appeal for action to outlaw nuclear weapons ahead of the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki next year.

The chair’s summary of the two-day Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Nayarit, Mexico, repeated the growing risk of nuclear weapons use globally because of their proliferation and vulnerability to cyberattacks, human error and potential access to nuclear arsenals by terrorist groups.

In addition to the short- and long-term impact on human health from radiation exposure, a nuclear weapon detonation would have effects not constrained by national borders, most severely affecting the poor and vulnerable, the document said.

The summary said weapons will only be eliminated after they are outlawed. “We believe this is the path to achieve a world without nuclear weapons,” it added.

“In our view, this is consistent with our obligations under international law” such as those derived from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Geneva Conventions.

The conference called on nuclear weapons states and countries that have not joined the NPT to take part in the third conference to be held in Austria.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, which are allowed to possess nukes under the NPT, did not take part in the first conference in Oslo in March last year as well as the latest meeting.

“It is time to take action,” the summary said. “The 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks is the appropriate milestone to achieve our goal. Nayarit is a point of no return.”

Akira Kawasaki, a representative of civic group Peace Boat, commended the chair’s summary, saying, “It’s tantamount to the start of (discussions on instituting) a treaty to outlaw nuclear weapons.”

At the Mexico meeting, atomic bomb victims including Setsuko Thurlow, 82, who now lives in Canada, spoke of their experiences. Chiho Kozakura, a high school student “peace ambassador” sent by a Nagasaki civic group, was also at the forum.

The latest conference drew 146 countries, or three quarters of the United Nations members, more than the 127 nations that participated in the Oslo meeting last year. Representatives of civil society organizations also took part.