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Opinion

Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada 

Prior to the A-bomb anniversary on August 6, Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs Canada, and Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, who both attended the G7 Hiroshima Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Hiroshima in April, in advance of the Group of Seven (G7) summit (Ise Shima summit), sent responses to a written interview. They were asked how they felt about their visit to Hiroshima on April 11, touching the devastating consequences of the atomic bombing, and what they thought of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima in May.

(Question) What feelings did you have when you laid a wreath at the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park?

(Answer) I was deeply moved. It made me reflect on the complexities, devastation, and destruction of war and how crucial it is we work together to resolve and prevent conflict.

(Q) How did you feel when you visited the A-bomb Dome?

(A) I was surprised at the contrast. On the one hand, there was the stark image of the destruction of the past, while on the other we were surrounded by the peace park in the midst of a highly developed, modern and vibrant city.

(Q) Were there any exhibits in the museum that made an especially deep impression on you?

(A) The artifacts and images of children touched the core of my heart. This reinforced my belief that all of us must work together through every mechanism, especially education and people-to-people ties, to build resiliency, and create sustainable peace and security.

(Q) Do you think that nuclear weapons are inhumane? Did your idea about this change after visiting Hiroshima?

(A) Visiting Hiroshima strengthened my belief that the catastrophic humanitarian consequences caused by a nuclear weapon detonation would be beyond the capacity of the international community to respond to effectively. Canada believes that the best way to ensure nuclear weapons are never used again is to ultimately eliminate them in a verifiable and irreversible manner.

(Q) How will you translate your experience of visiting Hiroshima into action, especially in the areas of peace building and nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation?

(A) Canada supports progressive, pragmatic steps toward achieving a nuclear weapon-free world. In my view, the next such step would be negotiation of a verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Such a treaty would end the production of the nuclear materials that provide these weapons with their explosive power. When global stockpiles of such materials are capped, they will inevitably be drawn down - leading eventually to their elimination.

(Q) How do you evaluate President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima and the content of the speech he made here? Do you think his visit and speech will provide a tailwind for advancing toward a world without nuclear weapons?

(A) President Obama’s support for advancing nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament has been clear since the president’s landmark speech in Prague in April 2009. As one of the two countries with the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons, US leadership is essential to achieve the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. His Administration’s efforts to engage domestic and international stakeholders to implement the Prague agenda, particularly ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and to negotiating further nuclear reductions with Russia, are positive movements towards a nuclear weapon-free world.

(Q) During your visit to Hiroshima, you did not have the opportunity to listen to an A-bomb survivor’s account. Please write a message to the survivors, if you have one.

(A) (To the hibakusha no Minasama), I would like to convey my deepest sympathies for the suffering that you have witnessed and endured and my respect for the strength you show in sharing your stories. It is my hope that your messages of peace will help future generations ensure that no one else ever has to experience the pain and devastation wrought by nuclear weapons.

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