Six leaders including former US President Barack Obama send videos to Eminent Persons meeting that highlight obligation to abolish nuclear weapons for following generations

by Kana Kobayashi, Staff Writer

On December 10, former U.S. President Barack Obama and UN Secretary-General António Guterres sent videotaped messages to the International Group of Eminent Persons meeting, which opened in Hiroshima on the same day. The messages were delivered in response to a request from Japan’s national government, which is seeking to gain involvement from political leaders in the debate on nuclear abolition. The leaders revealed their expectation that deliberations to realize “a world without nuclear weapons” would make progress even amid rising tensions in Ukraine.

Recalling his experience of coming to Hiroshima in May 2016 as the first sitting U.S. president to do so, Mr. Obama said, “I will never forget my first visit to Hiroshima. It was a moment that strengthened my own resolve to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons worldwide.” His message by pre-recorded video was about one minute in duration. Touching on the harsh international situation surrounding the issue of nuclear disarmament, Mr. Obama emphasized, “We owe it to our children to pursue a world without nuclear weapons.”

In addition, the acting leaders of two nations reliant on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for security also sent videotaped messages to the meeting. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, president of Germany said, “We owe the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki our unwavering commitment to achieving a world without nuclear weapons.” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese offered encouragement to the group by calling on the members to “continue to work together toward a world without nuclear weapons.”

Mr. Guterres, who attended the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima earlier this year in person, said with conviction, “We must heed their (A-bomb survivors’) calls for an end to the nuclear threat.” Federica Mogherini, rector of the College of Europe who visited Hiroshima in 2016, shared her thoughts on the A-bombed city. “Hiroshima serves as a reminder for us all of the kind of tragedy brought about by the use of nuclear weapons,” said Ms. Mogherini.

Mohamad Elbaradei, former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said, “There are many things we can do to make the world safer,” citing adoption of the policy of non-first use of nuclear weapons and effectuation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

(Originally published on December 11, 2022)