20 nations are downgraded for nuclear disarmament efforts in newly released Hiroshima Report 2019

by Takamasa Kyoren, Staff Writer

On April 4, Hiroshima Prefecture released the Hiroshima Report 2019, an assessment of 36 nations based on their efforts in 2018 in connection with three areas involving nuclear weapons. In the area of nuclear disarmament, 20 nations, accounting for 55.6% of all the nations assessed, received lower ratings than those they received in last year’s report, due to their slow progress in signing or ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which has been included as an evaluation item on the report since 2017. North Korea was assessed a higher score than last year based on its participation in the historic summit that was held for the first time with the United States in June 2018. However, its rating still remained the lowest of all the nations assessed.

The report was compiled by the Japan Institute of International Affairs, a think tank given this assignment by the prefecture. Hirohumi Tosaki, a senior research fellow at the institute and an expert in nuclear issues, held a press conference at the prefectural office and summarized the report by saying, “It can be concluded that efforts for nuclear disarmament have been sluggish or regressive. Amid difficult conditions in global security, due to factors that include the United States reviewing its nuclear policies, there is now a reevaluation of nuclear deterrence, among other things.”

The 36 nations that were assessed include four nuclear-armed states and five nuclear weapon states, which are recognized by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), and 27 non-nuclear nations. Based on the efforts made by these nations in 2018, the institute rated their performance on 65 items in the areas of nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and nuclear security. Each nation’s scoring rate, which indicates the percentage of its full score, was then used for assessment.

In the area of nuclear disarmament, evaluation points were given for 32 items. North Korea raised its points for four items, including “Announcement of significant policies and important activities” and “Voting behavior on UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) resolutions on nuclear disarmament proposals by Japan, NAC, and NAM,” and received minus 2.0 percent for its scoring rate, an increase of 6.2 points since last year. This improvement in its scoring rate was affected by the nation’s decision to halt its nuclear tests and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) launch tests, and take part in the summit with the United States.

Of the five nuclear weapon states and four nuclear-armed states, seven countries, with the exception of North Korea and the United Kingdom, received lower scoring rates. Their rates decreased due to the fact that they have been engaged in modernizing and improving their nuclear arsenals. Evaluation points for the United States increased for two items, owing to the summit meeting it held with North Korea, but also declined for two other items over the fact that it plans to pursue the upgrading of its nuclear weapons. Its scoring rate was 15.8%, a decrease of 0.7 points. The announcement made by the U.S. government last October, that it intends to withdraw from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, was not reflected in the report’s assessment because, as the report indicates, “It cannot be said that simply expressing the intention to withdraw from the treaty has led to concrete actions to expand that nation’s nuclear arsenal.”

Japan’s scoring rate was 53.6%, which was the 11th highest figure for the countries assessed. Compared to last year, this rate decreased by 2.4 points because no significant efforts were made in 2018, as compared to 2017, the year the Japanese government made proactive efforts to commence negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) for banning the production of nuclear materials that can be used in the making of nuclear weapons.

For their scoring rates in the other two areas, the United States, China, and France, which are among the five main nuclear weapon states, received lower rates than those of last year in the area of non-nuclear proliferation. Only three nations had a higher scoring rate in this area, namely New Zealand, the Philippines, and Kazakhstan. As for nuclear security, 11 countries that included the United States and China made improvements in this area while 25 nations held the same rate as last year. No nation received a lower scoring rate in this area of assessment.

(Originally published on April 5, 2019)