Nuclear disarmament and the U.S. presidential race

by Keisuke Yoshihara and Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writers

The presidential election campaign is heating up in the United States, one of the world’s nuclear powers. Both Democrats and Republicans are conducting primaries and caucuses to select their presidential candidates and the general election in November will then determine the country’s next leader. In this presidential race, is the issue of “nuclear disarmament” a focus of debate? This article examines the positions of the seven major candidates from the perspective of Hiroshima.

In the Democratic Debate held in New Hampshire on January 5, former Senator John Edwards called for the United States to undertake a long-term initiative for the abolition of nuclear weapons by the international community, saying, “Ridding the world of nuclear weapons is the only way to make the world safer and securer and to keep America safe.”

Senator Barack Obama criticized the current administration for failing to address the issue of nuclear proliferation. He said, “It would take about four years for us to lock down the loose nuclear weapons that are still floating out there.” And Senator Hillary Clinton touched upon the situation in Pakistan and expressed her will to persuade President Pervez Musharraf to share the security responsibility for the nuclear weapons in his country.

The Democratic Debate produced more discussion on nuclear issues than anticipated, but the Republican Debate, held on the same day, provided no views on this matter. The lack of Republican discussion, though, is presumably due to the fact that the same type of question on nuclear weapons was not asked.

The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, an NGO based in Santa Barbara, California, has assessed the many recent debates and commented, “The Democratic candidates offered a number of proposals in regard to nuclear policies, yet the Republican candidates barely touched on this issue.”

The foundation conducted a survey, posing a list of eight questions to the major candidates, such as “Do you pledge not to build new nuclear weapons should you become president?” The replies of the candidates and their comments on nuclear disarmament and other issues are presented to the public on its website (www.wagingpeace.org). David Krieger, president of the foundation, stresses, “U.S. nuclear policy should be one of the most important issues, if not the most important issue, in this campaign. U.S. voters should not let another election go by without thoroughly understanding the positions of candidates on this critical issue for our common future.”

Shigeko Sasamori, 75, an A-bomb survivor of Hiroshima who lives in California, observed, “In general, people are more interested in issues they face daily, such as health care and the economy, so I don’t think nuclear issues will be a priority in this campaign. But I think more people are now against the war in Iraq. If nuclear disarmament is included in a campaign promise, though, I want the newly-elected president to carry out that pledge without fail.”


The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, founded by David Krieger in 1982, plays an important role in “Abolition 2000,” a global NGO network that calls for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. It has consultative status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is recognized by the UN as a Peace Messenger Organization.