Dhaka, Bangladesh
Use the moral authority of Hiroshima

Use the moral authority of Hiroshima

HIROSHIMA - Hiroshima suffered from the first wartime use of the atomic bomb. The overriding goal of the Hiroshima Roundtable is to ensure Nagasaki remains the last city to be attacked by the bomb. The sixth annual meeting on Aug. 22 and 23 was held against the backdrop of a uniquely dangerous period in the atomic age. Geopolitical tensions have spiked across the world. No arms control negotiations are currently underway to reduce global nuclear stockpiles. A hostile security environment, proliferation of nuclear weapons and emergence of new technologies have increased the risk of accidental or deliberate use of nuclear weapons. While efforts to check North Korea's nuclear ambitions by diplomatic negotiations are welcome, several summits have yielded negligible concrete results. The successful Iran nuclear deal was abandoned by U.S. President Donald Trump and unilateral sanctions reimposed, putting the United States in material breach of the U.N.-endorsed agreement. The binary East-West nuclear divide of the Cold War has morphed into interlinked nuclear chains, for example, between Pakistan, India, China and the U.S. For the first time in history there are two international treaties for setting global nuclear policy directions and norms: the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the Nuclear-Weapon Prohibition Treaty (NWPT). This calls for investing diplomatic efforts at harmonization so the two treaties do not undermine each other. Also for the first time since the 1960s, independent nuclear weaponization is being seriously proposed for the European Union, Germany, Australia, Japan and South Korea, contributing to the nuclearization of the 21st century. The net result is an exceptionally high degree of disquiet in most countries with the continued existence of nuclear weapons and accompanying doctrines of their use. The discomfort level has increased over the last four years with the growing normalization of the discourse of nuclear weapons-based national security policies and found expression in the adoption of the NWPT at the United Nations in July last year. The Hiroshima Roundtable worked hard to identify a road map to the shared destination of national and collective security free of the existence, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons. There are three parallel pathways: the abolition of nuclear weapons through a progressively reduced reliance on them for national security; lessening reliance on nuclear deterrence by nuclear armed states and allies sheltering under their nuclear umbrella; and reductions in nuclear risks through concrete practical measures. The premise behind the call to reduce and abolish nuclear weapons is simple but powerful: Any use of nuclear weapons would be a crime. The risks inherent in their continued existence - that they will someday be used through deliberate intent, by accident, rogue launch or system malfunction, or through the inexorable logic of an escalation spiral - are real and unacceptable because of the gravity of the horrific consequences. To reduce risks and eliminate nuclear threats, all nuclear armed states must affirm the continuing validity and relevance of the Reagan-Gorbachev declaration that a nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought. In addition, they should reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their national security strategy, and not create new roles for them. The stalled nuclear arms control agenda must be restarted, with negotiations for reductions in nuclear stockpiles, postures and deployment practices. Preventing the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and universalizing it progressively, extending New START by five years to 2026, completing the ratifications required to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force, and commencing negotiations on a Fissile Materials Cut-off Treaty, are examples of concrete actions to restore faith in the so-called progressive approach to nuclear arms control. The security of a nation need not depend on nuclear deterrence, but the reality is that several countries currently do rely on nuclear deterrence. To reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, we must make sincere efforts to appreciate under what circumstances, and against which contingencies, the national security planners of the nuclear armed and umbrella states believe nuclear deterrence is credible and works. We must then make equally sincere efforts to identify and recommend similarly credible and practical nonnuclear-weapon alternatives for defense against these threats to their national security. Nuclear armed states too must undertake a realistic assessment of the risks of nuclear weapons use, by intention or inadvertently, built into nuclear deterrence. (To be continued)

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