New York to Hiroshima and Nagasaki

August 2005

From: Dave Knight

From New York with the Global Network Conference and the NPT Review Conference in April and May to Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the 60th Anniversary Ceremonies and Conferences in August is a long journey for a variety of reasons.

Bruce has already reported on the very successful Global Network Conference and the exciting March and Rally on 1st May. If only the positive atmosphere could have carried into the UN for the NPT RevCon.

The NGOs, including the Global Network, did their best with some excellent fringe meetings and presentations. But our access to the RevCon and the government delegates was much more restricted than usual. They do get worried about ‘people power’!

As expected the Nuclear Weapon States focussed on horizontal proliferation when there is a clear need to re-establish the close link between disarmament and proliferation, both horizontal and vertical and to promote a universal, verifiable and irreversible treaty for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. The positive view of the lamentable proceedings is that the absence of an agreed Final Document in 2005 means that the 2000 Final Document has not been further irrevocably weakened. We should continue to look to that when we judge the actions of states.

Since the RevCon, the ‘Seven Nation Initiative’ by Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Norway, Romania, South Africa and the UK has been launched. Yet it appears to be as much about protecting nuclear programmes and wider international ambitions than about nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Meanwhile the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is well into its third session of the year but remains deadlocked after many years with no negotiations on any issues, including the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space. This, despite Canada, China and Russia promoting discussion around the CD on the elements, definitions and legal issues for PAROS.

Russia has also declared that it will not be the first to place weapons in space and has invited other space-faring nations to do likewise. We go further and demand that all space using nations should declare Independent Moratoriums on the Development and Deployment of Weapons in Space.

I was invited to Japan by Gensuikin, one of the two very large anti-nuclear organisations there, to speak at their conferences and attend the official Anniversary Ceremonies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I spoke on behalf of CND and the Global Network on missile defence, the weaponisation of space, the NPT and UK nuclear policies. These are large conferences. For instance, the opening plenary in Hiroshima contained 10,000 people and ‘workshops’ could be up to 400. No intimate discussion but a lot of people got to hear our message.

I also had smaller, sometimes one-to-one, strategic discussions with the leadership of Gensuikin, both elected representatives and staff, in order to promote campaigning on missile defence and weapons in space. On other occasions I am pursuing the same ends with Gensuikyo, the other large anti-nuclear organisation in Japan.

In addition I took part in a number of press conferences and interviews with individual journalists. Of course I took the opportunity to network with other overseas visitors wherever possible.

The official Anniversary Ceremonies in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are very moving even though you tend to sit there gently cooking in sweat. This was particularly true in Nagasaki this year since our delegation from Gensuikin had to rush to the Ceremony because the final plenary of their conference overran. Very unusual, since in Japan conferences and trains run to time! While I did not visit the Nuclear Holocaust Museums this time I have done so in the past. If all world leaders visited them and immediately had to talk about what they felt we might get a better approach to security.

But the most moving experience for me on this visit was much more personal.  Almost by accident I was introduced to one of Satomi Oba’s daughters. In the Peace Park in Nagasaki we talked about Satomi and her work and I told Mizuho of the commemoration we had for her mother at the Global Network Conference. Perhaps it is not such a long way from New York to Nagasaki.


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