Nuclear weapons can be eliminated: ICNND holds meeting in Hiroshima on Oct. 18 and 19

by Keisuke Yoshihara, Staff Writer

October 18 and 19 have been set as the dates for the final meeting of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), to be held in the city of Hiroshima. The schedule of the meeting is expected to include a visit to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum by the ICNND members and the opportunity for them to hear the testimonies of atomic bomb survivors (hibakusha). The members, including former senior government officials of nuclear powers such as the U.S. and Russia, will learn about the reality of the destruction caused by the atomic bombing and discuss steps toward nuclear abolition.

Former Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi and former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, co-leaders of ICNND, are scheduled to arrive in Hiroshima on October 17, a day before the meeting, and visit Peace Memorial Museum on that day. The meeting will then take place on October 18 and 19, with the members holding their final discussion to compile a report for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2010. If needed, the meeting will be extended to October 20. The venue for the gathering is expected to be the International Conference Center Hiroshima in Peace Memorial Park.

The Arms Control and Disarmament Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is preparing for the meeting, noted, “Hiroshima was chosen as the site for the final meeting as we hope the commission members of each nation can connect to the essential mission of the ICNND. We are working out the details now, but providing the members with an opportunity to listen to the testimonies of hibakusha is crucial.”

ICNND held its first meeting in Sydney, Australia, in October 2008, and the members exchanged views in Washington, D.C. in February this year. The discussion so far has focused on setting a course toward nuclear abolition with a three-step approach: early, middle, and final steps. It is believed that the meeting in Hiroshima will include the following issues for consideration: 1) a declaration of no-first-use of nuclear weapons by nuclear powers, and 2) the establishment of an international verification system to prevent covert nuclear development.

The third meeting of ICNND will be held in Moscow in June. After the fourth meeting in Hiroshima, ICNND will compile its report as early as the end of this year.

The International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND)
ICNND, comprised of 15 members, is a joint initiative by the Japanese and Australian governments with the aim of proposing effective measures for nuclear abolition. Most of its members are former senior government officials, like former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who, with former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz and two others, published an article titled “Toward a Nuclear-Free World” in the Wall Street Journal in January 2007.

(Originally published on March 28, 2009)

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