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. THE STRUGGLE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT .

Speaking at the United Nations at the opening of the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (10th NPT Review), Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that humanity is “just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation.” “The risks of proliferation are growing and guardrails to prevent escalation are weakening.   And crises — with nuclear undertones — are festering, From the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, and to many other factors around the world.” 

A few days later Guterres went to Hiroshima where he spoke at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony, marking the anniversary of the atomic bombing, the most horrendous terrorist act in human history. At his press conference, he stated that the world is in danger of forgetting the lessons forged in this city 77 years ago.  He added that it is unacceptable for states in possession of nuclear weapons to admit the possibility of nuclear war.  He stressed that we must use every avenue of dialogue, diplomacy and negotiation to ease tensions and eliminate the nuclear threat.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, speaking at the ceremony, said, “I call on the leaders of the nuclear-weapon states to visit the atomic-bombed cities where they can personally encounter the consequences of using nuclear weapons and strengthen their will to take these steps. I want them to understand that the only sure way to protect the lives and property of their people is to eliminate nuclear weapons.”

Speaking 3 days later at the anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Tomihisa Taue, the mayor of that city said: “In January this year, the leaders of the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China released a joint statement affirming that ‘a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.’ However, the very next month Russia invaded Ukraine. Threats of using nuclear weapons have been made, sending shivers throughout the globe. . . . Instead of waging war, mankind should foster “a ‘culture of peace’ that spreads trust, respects others and seeks resolutions through dialogue.”

Mayor Tomihisa Taue then traveled to the United Nations where he addressed the meetings of the 10th NPT Review, recalling “the hibakusha’s long-standing call for the abolition of nuclear weapons—which has resonated throughout the world, raising awareness of their inhumanity. Nevertheless, decades of such effort can be undone if just one nuclear-weapon state decides to use all of its power to tyrannize other states.” He urged the attendees to fulfill the nuclear disarmament obligations as stipulated in Article VI of the NPT, as well as to propose concrete strategies to ensure progress in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation measures. He also expressed the determination of Mayors for Peace, to continue striving for a world without nuclear weapons. He closed his statement by imparting a message: May Nagasaki be the last wartime atomic bombing site.

The messages from Hiroshima and Nagasaki were echoed around the world. In Winchester, United Kingdom, the mayor presided over an event to commemorate the bombings, saying, “I share the spirit of my fellow Mayor of Nagasaki, who stated, ‘I hereby declare to do the utmost to realise the abolition of nuclear weapons and everlasting world peace’.” And in Nagpur, India, more than 5000 people visited the event No More Hiroshima: No More Nagasaki.

The 10th NPT Review ended at the United Nations in New York without even reaching a joint statement, let alone taking any concrete steps towards nuclear disarmament. However, in reporting the results, the peace organization Unfold Zero, stated that some of the issues mentioned at the conference, such as nuclear risk reduction, non-use of nuclear weapons in armed conflict, the adoption of no-first-use policies and negative security assurances, will be raised in other forums. “We encourage you to stay tuned and engaged in this.”

More than ever, we need a global movement for nuclear disarmament!

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