Tokyo: The G7 leaders (Group of Seven) on Friday came together in Hiroshima to issue a joint statement reaffirming their commitment to achieving a world without nuclear weapons while ensuring security for all, according to a White House statement.
The document, the first of its kind with a specific focus on nuclear disarmament, highlights the importance of transparency, non-proliferation and diplomacy in realising this goal. "I have welcomed my fellow G7 leaders to Hiroshima. After touring the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, we spoke with atomic bomb survivors and offered flowers at the Peace Memorial Park. This was an opportunity to send out a powerful message to the world about the G7's commitment to achieving a World Without Nuclear Weapons as the G7 leaders deepened their understanding of the tragic realities of the atomic bombing," tweeted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
In their statement 'Hiroshima Action Plan', the G7 leaders condemned Russia's "irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and undermining of arms control regimes" and stated their intent to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus.
They stressed that any use of nuclear weapons or threats of use by Russia in the context of its aggression against Ukraine is deemed inadmissible.
"We underscore the importance of the 77-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons. Russia's irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, undermining of arms control regimes, and stated intent to deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus are dangerous and unacceptable," the statement said.
Recalling the statement in Bali of all G20 leaders, including Russia, the statement said, "We reiterate our position that threats by Russia of nuclear weapon use, let alone any use of nuclear weapons by Russia, in the context of its aggression against Ukraine are inadmissible."
"We further express our profound concern over Russia's attempt to control Ukraine's nuclear facilities, which poses serious nuclear safety and security risks and is in total disregard of Ukraine's right under the NPT to pursue peaceful uses of nuclear energy," added the statement.
Calling Russia to "recommit - in words and deeds - to the principles enshrined in that Statement," it recalled the Joint Statement of the Leaders of the Five Nuclear- Weapon States issued on January 3, 2022, on 'Preventing Nuclear War and Avoiding Arms Races', and affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
"Our security policies are based on the understanding that nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent war and coercion," added the statement.
Additionally, the G7 leaders expressed regret over Russia's decision to undermine the New START Treaty and called for its full implementation. Concerns were raised about China's increasing nuclear arsenal build-up without transparency.
"In this regard, Japan's 'Hiroshima Action Plan' is a welcome contribution. We deeply regret Russia's decision to undermine the New START Treaty, and call on Russia to enable a return to full implementation of the Treaty. At the same time, China's accelerating build-up of its nuclear arsenal without transparency nor meaningful dialogue poses a concern to global and regional stability," added the statement.
Transparency measures were emphasised in the statement, with the G7 leaders commending the United States, France, and the United Kingdom for providing data on their nuclear forces.
They called on other nuclear-weapon states to follow suit and engage in meaningful dialogue with non-nuclear-weapon states on transparency and limiting nuclear competition.
"We emphasize the importance of transparency with regard to nuclear weapons and welcome actions already taken by the United States, France and the United Kingdom to promote effective and responsible transparency measures through providing data on their nuclear forces and the objective size of their nuclear arsenal," read the statement.
It called on nuclear-weapon States to promote transparency through an open explanation of national reports coupled with an interactive discussion with non-nuclear-weapon States and civil society participants at future NPT-related meetings.
"In this regard, we stress the benefit of pre-notification of relevant strategic activities, as a substantial contribution to risk reduction. The G7 recognises the need for concrete steps by nuclear-weapon States to reduce strategic risks. We call on China and Russia to engage substantively in relevant multilateral and bilateral forums, in line with their obligations under the NPT," the statement said.
It also called for the immediate commencement of long overdue negotiations of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
"2023 will mark the 30th year since the consensual adoption of a United Nations (UN) General Assembly resolution calling for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), and we urge all countries to refocus political attention towards the FMCT as a priority action to forestall a recurrence of the nuclear arms race, including any and all independent or complementary efforts," added the statement.
The Hiroshima Action Plan further called to declare and maintain voluntary moratoria on the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.
It also said that no nation should carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or other nuclear explosion, condemn any threats to do so, and emphasise that bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force is another urgent matter.
"We remain committed to upholding the global norm against nuclear explosive testing until it is legally binding and call on all states to declare new or maintain existing moratoriums on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions," the statement said.
"We express our concern over Russia's announcement of its readiness to conduct a nuclear test, and we call for Russia's adherence to its moratorium on nuclear tests. We further underscore the essential role of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission in detecting and reporting suspected nuclear explosions worldwide," it added.
The G7, collectively, has supported the CTBTO's activities in the amount of more than 100 million US dollars in 2023. A world without nuclear weapons cannot be achieved without nuclear non-proliferation.
The Hiroshima Action Plan demanded North Korea to refrain from any other destabilizing or provocative actions, including any further nuclear tests or launches that use ballistic missile technology.
"North Korea cannot and will never have the status of a nuclear-weapon State under the NPT. It is critical that sanctions be fully and scrupulously implemented by all states and remain in place for as long as North Korea's WMD and ballistic missile programs exist," read the statement.
The Hiroshima Action Plan also was deeply concerned about Iran's unabated escalation of its nuclear program, which has no credible civilian justification and brings it dangerously close to actual weapon-related activities.
"We reiterate our clear determination that Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon and we call on all countries to support the implementation of UNSCR 2231. We urge Iran to cease nuclear escalations," added the statement.
The Hiroshima Action Plan also opposed any attempt to produce or support the production of plutonium for military programs under the guise of civilian programs, which undermines the objectives of the NPT including the promotion of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
"We call on all states that committed to reporting annually their holdings of all plutonium in peaceful nuclear activities to the IAEA to fulfil those commitments," the statement further mentioned.
The G7 leaders encouraged visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki to raise awareness of the realities of nuclear weapons use and supported initiatives that promote the engagement of youth, women, and civil society in disarmament and non-proliferation processes.
"We welcome initiatives such as the "Youth Leader Fund for a World without Nuclear Weapons" by Japan, the "Young Professionals Network" of P5, the "Youth Champions for Disarmament" financed by Germany, and the "Young Women Next Generation Initiative" established by the EU Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Consortium, as well as other initiatives that support the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in addition to the engagement of civil society in disarmament and non-proliferation processes," added the statement.