Achieving a World Free of Nuclear Weapons

High-Level Expert Group Meeting

15-16 April 2010

Hiroshima, Japan

Chaired by Ingvar Carlsson and Jean Chrétien

It has been 65 years since atomic bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki with devastating consequences. The surviving victims of that disaster, the hibakusha, have long called for nuclear disarmament saying、 ‘No one else should ever suffer as we did’. It is therefore right that the Interaction Council convened its High-Level Expert Group Meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, on the 15th and 16th of April 2010, to further aid the cause of abolishing nuclear arms and to ensure that no one else endures the unbearable suffering of the hibakusha. 

Indeed, this is no new topic to the Council. Since its establishment in 1983, the InterAction Council has called for the abolition of nuclear weapons in almost all annual meetings. In recent years, it has repeatedly called for the nuclear weapon states to conform to their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to renounce these relics of the Cold War era. 

The future of humanity is threatened from proliferation of nuclear weapons. The NPT recognised five nuclear weapons states but this asymmetry was accepted only on condition that they would negotiate toward nuclear disarmament. The Cold War proved an obstacle to such disarmament and a doctrine of deterrence emerged. With the Cold War behind us that doctrine is now rightly questioned and the world expects its leaders to develop a new security framework that is not dependent on these weapons.

The devastating consequences of accidental or intentional use of nuclear weapons are well-known. One hundred and fifty thousand people lost their lives in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th 1945. The survivors still continue to experience higher cancer rates. A Nuclear Winter could result from less than 100 regional Hiroshima-sized detonations in 50 cities, using only 0.07 % of the global arsenal of existing nuclear weapons. The damage would be global and irreparable. 

Despite these facts, the current arsenal of over 20.000 nuclear warheads is large enough to destroy the world six times over. Some nuclear weapons have more destructive power than all the weapons used in all wars throughout human history. Yet, international law has not completely prohibited the use of nuclear weapons. A treaty banning the first use of nuclear weapons is therefore needed for the disarmament process. Nine states currently have nuclear weapons and others may possibly be seeking them. Further proliferation has been facilitated by the AQ Khan network, creating the risk that nuclear weapons could be within reach of terrorist networks or other non-state actors. 

Nuclear disarmament is urgently needed and it is now becoming increasingly feasible. The end of the Cold War brought a period of détente and movement towards disarmament. This resulted in the conclusion of several important treaties, including the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) in 1990, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) in 1991, the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1993, the extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995 and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. 

However, momentum was lost and these positive developments came to a regrettable halt. The United States Senate refused to ratify the CTBT, START II failed, the US withdrew from the ABM, and the Review Conference of the NPT in 2005 ended without agreement. Furthermore, expansion of NATO and plans to place missile shields in Europe antagonised Russia and undermined the détente. Disarmament was dropped down on the agendas and was no longer among the priorities of governments. As the InterAction Council rightly declared last year, the world seemed to have moved towards a New Cold War and terrible relics of that era, nuclear weapons, have been retained. 

Presently, there has been a strong revival in disarmament, forcefully advocated in 2007 by the ‘Gang of Four’ American statesmen - Henry Kissinger, William Perry, Sam Nunn, and George Shultz. Their call for a global elimination of nuclear weapons has been welcomed and reiterated by the InterAction Council. Since then, other former statesmen have followed suit and Gangs of Fours have been formed among others in Germany, Sweden, Canada, the UK, Japan, Australia and Italy. They have all reiterated the urgent call to prohibit nuclear weapons and recommended immediate action.

Meanwhile, changes in governments have allowed for reassessment of policies in some nuclear weapon states. In April 2009 in Prague, President Obama announced that he would work toward a world without nuclear weapons. Earlier that year in London, President Obama and President Medvedev had confirmed their commitment to prevent nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism and endorsed the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Nuclear Security Summit of April 2010 in Washington, DC brought a determination at the highest level to reduce the risk that nuclear materials can get into the hands of terrorists and non-state actors.

Earlier this year, the United States and Russia, who possess 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons completed the New START agreement. It should be promptly ratified by the legislative bodies in the United States and Russia. Furthermore, it is necessary to bring all permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as the three states that have not signed the NPT into the dialogues and multilateral talks. Any solution must be global, as well as regional. Taking the necessary steps, be they political, strategic, technical or legal, will be challenging. 

A number of initiatives and recommendations have already been proposed. In 2006 the International Weapons of Mass Destruction Committee chaired by Hans Blix recommended thirty steps on how to tackle the problems of weapons of mass destruction. The recent report by the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament sponsored by Australia and Japan contains seventy-six recommendations for the elimination of nuclear weapons. In February 2010, the Global Zero Summit in Paris released an action plan outlining a step by step strategy to eliminate nuclear weapons. The upcoming Review Conference of the NPT in May provides a vital platform for further action.

The deterrence doctrine governed relationships among the nuclear powers for decades. Today, the challenges require a change in perception, dialogue and philosophy. We fear the acquisition of nuclear weapons by unstable states, accidental launch, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to terrorist groups or non-state actors. These threats cannot be met by an increased investment in new nuclear weapons technology. States should not respond to these threats with more explosive power and an out-dated concept of security.

It is important that as the world calls for nuclear disarmament, it also endeavours to strengthen détente and calm regional conflicts. The existence of nuclear weapons has not prevented regional or domestic wars. Disarmament efforts should be in parallel with efforts to foster regional stability. Transparency and security cooperation should replace the doctrine of deterrence. 

In 1995, as part of the NPT, it was agreed that states should work towards a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Now, more than ever, it is important to ensure that such a promised zone become a reality. Nuclear weapon free zones could also be of great value in East Asia or the Arctic.

The risks that may flow from a revival of nuclear power must be avoided. For instance the creation of a nuclear fuel bank could reduce the incentives to develop indigenous enrichment facilities and securing nuclear fuel throughout its life cycle and decommissioning aging reactors would reduce the risk of diversion. 

Even though global disarmament of nuclear weapons is a great diplomatic challenge, there is no option not to tackle it. There are 190 signatories to the NPT, more than 130 states have signed treaties on nuclear weapon free zones and more than 170 states supported the Japanese UN resolution calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Grassroots movements have reactivated their efforts, raised awareness and generated momentum for action. The Mayors for Peace campaign initiated by the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki currently represents over 600 million people worldwide. The whole world is in favour of disarmament.

This generation of leaders, who still remember the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, owe it to the victims and to future generations to ensure that such bombing will never occur again. Nuclear weapons must be banned to honour the pledge on the Memorial Cenotaph in Hiroshima’s Peace Park – ‘Let all the souls here rest in peace, for we shall not repeat the evil’. 


Therefore the Chairmen of the Expert Group Meeting urge the Council to adopt as its recommendations the following: 

Immediate actions

1. Nuclear weapon states should confirm and implement their obligations under article VI of the NPT, to negotiate towards nuclear disarmament.

2. All states possessing nuclear weapons should reduce and eventually eliminate their arsenals. 

3. In particular, Russia and the United States, who have the largest stocks, should sharply reduce the number of warheads, including non-strategic weapons.

4. All non-strategic nuclear weapons should be removed to national territory. Ultimately, they should be dismantled and eliminated.

5. The US, China and other states should promptly ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to help bring it into force.

6. Negotiations should start without delay on a treaty to prohibit further production of fissile material for weapons and address the issue of existing stocks. 

7. States party to the NPT should be urged to accept and ratify the additional protocol of the IAEA safeguard verification and nuclear weapons states should be encouraged to place enrichment and reprocessing plants under safeguards.

8. United States and Russia should take all their nuclear weapons off alert status.

9. States possessing nuclear weapons should increase transparency of their capabilities, postures, and strategies.

10. Efforts to foster global détente and regional stability should be pursued alongside disarmament.

11. Within national governments, units should be created to deal with and support disarmament and to consider how states can manage their defense without nuclear weapons. Resources for the pursuit and implementation of disarmament should be allocated.

12. States should actively consider the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones as in the Middle-East, including Israel and Iran, and the Arctic.

13. Through the Six Party talks, North Korea should be induced to abandon its nuclear ambitions by economic incentives and disincentives, and security guarantees. 

14. Nuclear Security should be universally strengthened in accordance with conclusions of the Washington summit and the G8 Global Partnership should be renewed before it expires in 2012. 

15. The fuel bank mechanism should be developed in the IAEA to reduce the incentive of states to build new facilities for enrichment and reprocessing.

16. Funding of the IAEA should be increased.

17. States selling uranium should consider doing so only on condition that safeguards are applied. 

18. World leaders should visit Hiroshima and help to inform the public about the dangers of nuclear weapons. 

Long-term actions 

19. States should replace the philosophy of deterrence with the concept of common security.

20. The UN Security Council should consider universal disarmament and security a central part of its mission. 

21. Steps should be taken toward the internationalization of the nuclear fuel cycle. 

22. Negotiations should begin to develop a new Post Cold War security architecture for Europe.

23. States should commit to a non first use of nuclear weapons. 

24. A convention prohibiting nuclear weapons should be concluded in the same manner as conventions prohibiting biological and chemical weapons.