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UNITED NATIONS, Feb 19 2013 (IPS) - The world’s nuclear environment has increasingly turned politically toxic, replete with threats, accusations and open defiance of Security Council resolutions.
A long outstanding international conference on a nuclear weapons-free Middle East, to be hosted by Finland, is still far from reality. So is a proposed Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) aimed at eliminating weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
And last week, a renegade North Korea defied the United Nations by conducting its third nuclear test, while Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reserved his country’s right to nuclear weapons in a region where Israel’s nuclear arsenal has the implicit blessings of the Western world.
“We believe nuclear weapons must be eliminated,” said Khamenei, “We don’t want to build atomic weapons.” But if Iran was forced to do so, he warned, “No power could stop us.”
As the ultimate goal of a nuclear-weapons free world keeps receding, the leader of a Tokyo-based lay Buddhist non-governmental organisation (NGO) launched a global campaign last week for a nuclear summit of world leaders in 2015.
Daisaku Ikeda, president of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), says the annual G8 Summit in 2015 could be an “expanded summit” focusing on a nuclear weapons-free world and marking the 70th anniversary of the devastating atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“This would be an appropriate opportunity for such a nuclear summit,” he adds.
Tim Wright of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) told IPS his organisation supports the call by Ikeda and others to begin a process in 2013 aimed at achieving a treaty banning nuclear weapons.
“We urge all nations, including those which are part of a nuclear alliance, to participate constructively in such a process,” he said.
The involvement of NGOs will also be essential, Wright pointed out. “And a global ban on nuclear weapons is feasible, necessary and urgent.
“So long as these weapons exist,” he argued, “there is a very real possibility that they will be used, either by accident or design. Any such use would have catastrophic humanitarian and environmental consequences.”
In his 2013 Peace Proposal ‘Compassion, Wisdom and Courage: Building a Global Society of Peace and Creative’ released last week, Ikeda offers three concrete proposals.
First, to make disarmament a key theme of the U.N.’s post-2015 economic agenda, including Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Specifically, he proposes halving world military expenditures relative to 2010 levels and abolishing nuclear weapons and all other weapons judged inhumane under international law.
These should be included as targets for achievement by the year 2030.
Second, initiate the negotiation process for a Nuclear Weapons Convention, with the goal of agreement on an initial draft by 2015. Japan, as a country that has experienced nuclear attack, should play a leading role in the realisation of a NWC, he asserts.
Further, it should undertake the kind of confidence-building measures that are a necessary predicate to the establishment of a Northeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone and to creating the conditions for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.
“To this end, we must engage in active and multifaceted debate cantered on the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons to broadly shape international public opinion,” says Ikeda.
“If possible, Germany and Japan, which are the scheduled G8 host countries for 2015 and 2016, respectively, should agree to reverse that order, enabling the convening of this meeting in Hiroshima or Nagasaki,” Ikeda notes.
Third, an expanded G8 summit in 2015 which could double as a nuclear summit of world leaders.
In past peace proposals, he has urged that the 2015 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) be held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a vehicle for realising a nuclear abolition summit.
Nevertheless, he says, the logistical issues involved in bringing together the representatives of almost 190 countries may dictate the meeting be held at the U.N. headquarters in New York, as is customary.
“In that event, the G8 Summit scheduled to be held several months after the NPT Review Conference would provide an excellent opportunity for an expanded group of world leaders to grapple with this critical issue,” according to Ikeda.
Ikeda says SGI’s efforts to grapple with the nuclear weapons issue are based on the recognition that the very existence of these weapons represents the ultimate negation of the dignity of life.
“At the same time, nuclear weapons serve as a prism through which to perceive new perspectives on ecological integrity, economic development and human rights,” he says.
This in turn, he says, “helps us identify the elements that will shape the contours of a new, sustainable society, one in which all people can live in dignity.”
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