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2010年12月27日 (月)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Dec. 24
EDITORIAL: New nuclear disarmament treaty

A new nuclear disarmament treaty aimed at reducing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons has taken a major step toward validation. The U.S. Senate, which had been reluctant to pass and ratify it, finally approved it eight months after it was signed.

With no prospects for the treaty to take effect, U.S. President Barack Obama's initiative for "a world without nuclear weapons" could have lost its footing. It is significant that the Senate approved it at the last moment and did not allow the initiative aimed at abolishing nuclear weapons to fall apart.

The development should provide momentum for the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that President Obama mentioned in his April 2009 "Prague speech" and to strike a treaty on banning production of weapons-grade fissionable materials. Nuclear powers are also urged to step up their efforts for disarmament without delay.

In particular, we wish to make a request on future nuclear disarmament.

The United States and Russia are required to reduce the number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 or fewer within seven years from the time the treaty takes effect. But even this figure means the two countries would still possess enormous capability to destroy civilization.

Instead of seven years, the countries should hasten negotiations for the treaty to cut the number of nuclear warheads to 1,000 or fewer. If possible, the next nuclear disarmament treaty should take effect before the next Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference slated for 2015.

It is also important to sound out consultations with nuclear powers other than the United States and Russia.

China has maintained the stance that the United States and Russia should take the lead in nuclear disarmament.

However, if prospects for each of the two countries to possess 1,000 nuclear warheads or fewer become likely, even China would no longer be able to escape the disarmament administration. Rather, it should positively propose multilateral consultations.

In particular, in Asia, the United States, China and related countries need to discuss how the regional arms control and security framework ought to be so as not to trigger an arms race in conventional forces.

As a country that suffered atomic bombings, Japan has an important role to appeal to other countries and present a new initiative. We must also not forget that it would also benefit Japan's own security.

For the new treaty to take effect, ratification by Russia is indispensable. Russia's nuclear missiles are rapidly aging. Without the treaty, the cost of renewing them will weigh heavily on the country. In that sense, the treaty is also reasonable for Russia and should be ratified as soon as possible.

Former U.S. secretaries of state and defense of the former Republican administration have expressed their support for the new treaty one after another. Despite such circumstances, the approval had been put off because there is strong reluctance within the Republican Party to help Obama score a point.

Unless Washington advances nuclear disarmament, its position to call for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons would weaken and directly affect the security of the United States and its allies.

The Republican Party's stance of dragging nuclear disarmament due to its partisan interests makes light of the will of many countries that aim at "a world without nuclear weapons" under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. We strongly urge the Republican Party to reflect on its behavior.


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