The Challenge of Hiroshima:
Alternatives to Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defenses, and Space Weaponization in a North East Asian Context
October 8-11, 2004, Hiroshima, Japan
Six non-governmental organizations* brought together experts and activists from nine countries** in Hiroshima, Japan to discuss issues of global and regional peace and security. Almost 60 years after this city suffered the first atomic bombing, we confront new and continuing nuclear dangers in North East Asia and around the world.
An inspiring opening to the conference was provided by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, who discussed the Mayors for Peace Emergency Campaign to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by 2020. A prominent sentiment that underlay the discussions during the meeting was the suffering experienced by the survivors of the atomic bombing, the hibakusha , and their courage and determination in their efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
Despite the efforts of the hibakusha and the efforts of millions of other people for more than half a century to eliminate nuclear weapons, over twenty thousand remain deployed worldwide. Under the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States agreed to negotiate for the elimination of their nuclear arsenals. Unfortunately, there are no such negotiations in progress or even on the horizon for further nuclear reductions. Entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty also remains an unrealized goal, in no small part due to the refusal of the United States to ratify the Treaty.
North Korea has announced its withdrawal from the NPT, and that it has the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. It justifies this decision in part because the United States government has listed North Korea as a potential nuclear target. North Korea also cites other implied United States threats to use force against it, manifested by the continued deployment of powerful United States military forces in the region.
The United States and Japan are also proceeding with joint ballistic missile defense research, claiming a need to counter a North Korean missile threat. Missile defense deployment, and the possibility that it could be extended further to Taiwan , is viewed with great concern by China , and by other governments and peace movements throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The United States is pursuing ambitious programs for the modernization of its nuclear forces, from its missiles and the warheads they deliver to the systems used to plan and execute nuclear strikes. China and Russia , the major nuclear powers in the region, also continue to modernize some elements of their nuclear arsenals, although at a far slower pace than the United States . In addition, the United States continues to develop new kinds of high technology conventional weapons, including increasingly accurate and long-range conventionally armed missiles. A growing proportion of United States military forces are being deployed in the Pacific region.
All countries in North East Asia and the surrounding region have a strong interest in a stable and peaceful environment. The development and deployment of dangerous weapons systems in the region undermines this goal.
After extensive discussions, the conference participants concluded:
- Every available diplomatic means should be employed to resolve the current standoff between the United States and North Korea , ranging from the existing six-party talks between North Korea , South Korea , Japan , China , Russia and the United States , to bilateral negotiations between North Korea and the United States.
- Joint ballistic missile defense research by Japan and the United States complicates the relationship between the three major nuclear powers, and furthers proliferation of sophisticated military technologies. Missile defense development will make a regional arms race more likely. Therefore, joint ballistic missile defense development should not proceed, and the United States should not deploy anti-ballistic missile systems in the region.
- Normalization of diplomatic relations between North Korea and Japan and between North Korea and the United States should be encouraged.
- China , Russia , and the United States , the three nuclear weapons states with forces in the region, should actively pursue global negotiations for the elimination of all nuclear arsenals, consistent with their disarmament obligations under the NPT. These negotiations should involve all nuclear weapons states, including those not party to the NPT.
As a way forward, the conference participants agreed that the six-party talks should be considered a starting point for long-term discussions to address further regional security-enhancing measures, including:
- the withdrawal of missiles to such locations as would reduce perceived threats to countries in the region;
- limitations and reductions of missiles in the region;
- the creation of a North East Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone; and
- the withdrawal of foreign military forces based in the region.
The conference participants recognized that regional security also depends on the global security environment. They were particularly concerned about the weaponization of space, and wide-ranging United States plans for space dominance and the use of space for war fighting. The conference participants recommended the beginning and early conclusion of negotiations for a treaty banning these developments.
The participants agreed that the outcome of the 2005 NPT Review Conference will be critical for the future of non-proliferation and disarmament. The cry of the hibakusha - no more Hiroshimas, no more Nagasakis - must be taken up by the people of the world, strongly enough this time that the governments finally must listen and act to fulfill their legal obligations for the total elimination of their nuclear weapons.
*Convened by the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, the Hiroshima Peace Institute, the International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation (INESAP), Mayors for Peace, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (NAPF), and the Peace Depot. This was the fourth in a series of conferences in the project Moving Beyond Missile Defense, sponsored by INESAP and NAPF.
** Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.