Hiroshima Voices: “No Nukes, No War” Thomas Hajnoczi, 67, former director of department of disarmament, Austria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Countries that use nuclear weapons would also suffer devastating nuclear response with no military benefit

Thomas Hajnoczi is former director of the department of disarmament in Austria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the agency that played a lead role in enactment of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), an agreement that comprehensively bans nuclear weapons. Mr. Hajnoczi served in such positions as ambassador to the United Nations Office in Geneva and was instrumental in his role as representative of the vice-chair country at negotiations for enactment of the TPNW in 2017. Since 2021, he has served as executive advisor to the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation, located in the city’s Naka Ward.

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My message to Russian President Vladimir Putin is clear. Stop threatening the “use of nuclear weapons.” There is no sense in doing so, and use of the weapons would make Russia a pariah in the global community. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is in violation of the United Nations Charter as well as international law. Ukraine poses no threat of any kind to Russia. Russia has claimed that the invasion is being waged out of self-defense and other reasons, but such protestations are unreasonable.

Any use of nuclear weapons would expose people to radiation even outside the targeted areas of attack. In addition, the country to first use a nuclear weapon would suffer devastation from an equivalent response with such weapons. Nuclear weapons are used to harm civilians and will not bring about any military benefit such as territorial acquisition.

I want to urge Russia, as well as the other nuclear powers, to fulfill their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime for the sake of promoting nuclear disarmament. The seriousness of the current international situation is no excuse. So long as there are countries reliant on the nuclear umbrella provided by nuclear powers, the possession and buildup of nuclear weapons will persist. To guarantee international security, all nations must be willing to walk away from the idea of nuclear deterrence.

Located in the heart of the European Union, Austria risked becoming an area of military conflict during the Cold War, because it was sandwiched between West and East military alliances. With that, people in Austria have learned that the only way to avoid nuclear attack is to eliminate nuclear weapons. Against the backdrop of Austria’s national political consensus regarding opposition to nuclear weapons, the country played a central role in establishment of the TPNW.

A-bomb survivors, who have suffered immeasurably since the bombings, are living witnesses to the need for elimination of nuclear weapons. I will never forget the testimonies by such survivors as Setsuko Thurlow, 90, from Canada, who spoke at one of the TPNW negotiation meetings. Nuclear weapons only result in death and suffering, as evidenced by what happened in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. (Interviewed by Kana Kobayashi)