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2009年7月11日 (土)


--The Asahi Shimbun, July 10(IHT/Asahi: July 11,2009)
EDITORIAL: G-8 nuclear statement

Leaders of the Group of Eight major countries, which include four nuclear powers, issued a statement declaring their commitment to "creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons."

The G-8 debate on nuclear issues at the summit this year, held in L'Aquila, Italy, was led, not surprisingly, by U.S. President Barack Obama, who is pursuing a policy goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

Building on the momentum created by a recent agreement between the United States and Russia on the basic terms of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, Obama made a move to open a new chapter in efforts toward a world without nuclear arms.

The G-8 statement urged all nuclear powers to disclose more information about their nuclear arsenals and take further steps in nuclear disarmament.

The document indicates an intention to promote multilateral nuclear arms reduction talks involving China, Britain and France after the United States and Russia make significant progress in slashing their stockpiles of atomic weapons.

Even if this idea cannot be realized immediately, it is still significant that the G-8 leaders have confirmed their cooperation in this direction.

It is also clear that the G-8's view of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has changed dramatically. The U.S. administration of former President George W. Bush turned its back on the CTBT, while President Obama sees the treaty as an important instrument for nuclear disarmament.

Reflecting the new U.S. stance toward the treaty, the statement says the leading powers will intensify efforts toward the early entry into force of the CTBT, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1996.

The CTBT has yet to come into force because some key countries have not ratified it, including the United States, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel.

What is important at the moment is an early ratification by the United States.

With the ratification of a treaty requiring Senate approval by a two-third vote, however, there are some big political hurdles.

But U.S. ratification would provide leverage to press China and Israel, which have signed the treaty, to do the same. If both the United States and China join the CTBT, efforts to persuade India and Pakistan, which have not even signed it, would receive a big boost.

Significant progress in nuclear disarmament and increased international support to the CTBT would put diplomatic pressure on North Korea to stop nuclear tests and abandon its nuclear program.

U.S. ratification would make all G-8 nations parties to the treaty. The United States should ratify the CTBT as quickly as possible so that the G-8 can work in tandem to put the treaty into force.

In his April speech in Prague, Obama said, "the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up."

He also stressed the need to ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon, saying the possibility of nuclear terrorism is "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security." The G-8 statement echoed Obama's argument by expressing a determination to work together to fight the threat of nuclear terrorism.

In the G-8 summit, Obama proposed to hold a global nuclear security summit in Washington next spring. The summit would be part of the international effort to secure nuclear material around the world and prevent proliferation through black markets.

This is an attempt to supplement the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, whose credibility has been seriously undermined by the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran. We hope the conference will produce meaningful results.

Both nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are needed to create "the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons."

As long as nuclear powers maintain their huge stockpiles of atomic weapons, it will be difficult to win cooperation from countries without nuclear arms for measures to prevent proliferation.

Preventing both nuclear war and nuclear terrorism requires synchronized progress in both nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation.


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