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Editorial: N-arms ban treaty lacks viability without nuclear weapon countries

There is a reality that global peace and world order have been maintained based on mutual deterrence of nuclear powers. Many countries rely on the nuclear umbrella provided by the United States.


Establishment of a treaty ignoring the truth would conversely delay the elimination of nuclear weapons.


The Nuclear Weapons Convention with extensive bans on, among other things, production, possession and use of nuclear arms, has been adopted by a majority vote following negotiations at the U.N. headquarters.


The convention, which will start accepting signatures in September, will take effect after being ratified by 50 countries. Given the prospect that more than 100 countries will join, the convention is certain to take effect.


Austria, Mexico and other pro-convention countries focused on the inhumanity of nuclear weapons in a bid to encourage disarmament by nuclear powers, and have called for a ban on nukes because of this.


The convention in its preamble refers to “unacceptable suffering of and harm caused to the victims of the use of nuclear weapons (hibakusha).” The determination not to repeat the ravages of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has gained wide support.


Nuclear-armed states did not join the talks on the convention, arguing discussions not in line with reality are meaningless. They said it would never be possible for them to sign or join the convention. U.S. allies, including Japan, South Korea and Germany, took the same stand.


The problematic point is that the treaty does not take into account the security environments of states in need of nuclear arms or a nuclear umbrella.


Keep NPT system


Matters prohibited by the convention include threat of use of nuclear weapons. This means states exposed to the threats of nuclear arms are denied the nuclear deterrence capability of deterring a preemptive nuclear strike with the determination to make a nuclear counterattack. This is unacceptable for Japan, which must deal with the threat of nuclear weapons developed by North Korea.


The United States, Britain and France issued a joint statement, saying that the convention will not set up any solution measures to deal with threats posed by North Korea. Their assertion is totally reasonable.


The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) defines the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, which manufactured and exploded a nuclear weapon or other nuclear explosive device prior to 1 January, 1967, as “nuclear-armed states.” As for other countries, their peaceful use of nuclear power is permitted, and their transfer of use to military purposes is prevented through inspections and other means.


The Nuclear Weapons Convention, which is opaque in terms of the inspection method to monitor the progress of nuclear abolition, cannot take the place of the NPT. It is imperative to exercise caution to prevent the NPT system from losing its substance and the framework for nuclear nonproliferation from crumbling.


Nuclear disarmament by the United States and Russia, which together dominate 90 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal, is stagnating because of their antagonism over Syrian affairs and other international issues. First and foremost, it is essential for nuclear powers to ease tensions by their own responsibility and make arrangements to create the environment under which gradual nuclear disarmament can be discussed.


Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Koro Bessho, emphasized it is “impossible to create a world free from nuclear weapons without cooperation of nuclear powers.” As the only nation hit by atomic bombs, Japan should work hard toward repairing cracks that have emerged between nuclear and nonnuclear countries.

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