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The U.N. General Assembly had a heated debate recently between those who seek immediate negotiation of a nuclear weapons ban convention and those who argue that nuclear disarmament requires a step-by-step approach.

To achieve a world without nuclear arms, the weapons have to be reduced and finally eliminated. Then, it would be easy to ban the weapons. As global stockpiles come down close to zero, necessary questions arise. How to monitor, verify and enforce zero? How to prevent anyone from breaking out?

Companion legislation to drastically strengthen the role of the U.N. Security Council may have to follow. All these questions were raised in the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament co-chaired by former Foreign Ministers Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi. It produced a report recommending a realistic two-step approach to arrive at the final stage: minimization, and then elimination.

It is not too soon to start discussing what are the necessary elements for a nuclear weapons ban convention following the road map laid out in the report of the ICNND. Like old age, nuclear abolition is preferable to the alternative.

Nobuyasu Abe
FORMER U.N. UNDERSECRETARY-GENERAL FOR DISARMAMENT
Ramesh Thakur
CO-CONVENOR, ASIA PACIFIC LEADER-SHIP NETWORK FOR NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION AND DISARMAMENT

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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