U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. He described it as a “gut-wrenching” and “stunning” experience that he would never forget, and went on to say, “Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial.”
There is increasing speculation that U.S. President Barack Obama, who in his 2009 speech in Prague called for a world without nuclear weapons, terming their continued existence “the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War,” might also visit Hiroshima this month during his trip to Japan for the Group of Seven summit in the Ise-Shima area. I sincerely hope that he will take the opportunity to do so.
Concerns about the threat of nuclear proliferation have continued to escalate within the international community this year, especially in view of North Korea’s resumption of an active nuclear test program. Indeed, it is time for renewed efforts to map the path to a world free from nuclear weapons and to take concrete action to that end. Regrettably, last year’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference closed without reaching consensus, but nevertheless there have been signs of new developments.
The nuclear-weapons states and their allies continue to assert that they have no choice but to maintain a nuclear deterrent so long as these weapons exist. But the truth is that proliferation and other threats constantly generate conditions that could result in accidental detonation or launch.
Any use of nuclear weapons in a hostile exchange would produce unimaginable consequences — both in terms of the number of lives lost and the number of people who would suffer from the aftereffects. And, of course, the use of any of the world’s arsenal of 15,000 nuclear weapons could undo in an instant all of humankind’s efforts to resolve global problems.