Hiroshima responds to U.S. ratification of New START treaty

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

The U.S. Senate ratified the New START treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) with Russia on December 22. As a result, the treaty is likely to be realized. A-bomb survivors and citizens in Hiroshima view this development both very positively and with substantial caution.

Sunao Tsuboi, 85, chairman of the Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, commented, “Though the contents of the treaty differ from the wish of the A-bomb survivors, the failure to ratify it would have had a detrimental effect on the nuclear abolition movement. I would like to regard as positive the effort made by the Obama administration.”

Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba welcomed news of the ratification, saying, “This is a step forward in terms of the treaty coming into force and a great impetus for the realization of the world without nuclear weapons that President Obama seeks.”

Meanwhile, Kazushi Kaneko, 85, chairman of the other Hiroshima Prefectural Confederation of A-bomb Sufferers Organizations, said carefully, “We should not blindly welcome the treaty, which allows the United States and Russia to continue deploying a large number of nuclear warheads.” He went on to say, with emphasis, “Voices from the grassroots calling for nuclear abolition are more important than ever.”

This past September, the Obama administration conducted a subcritical nuclear test to maintain the reliability of its nuclear weapons. As a concession to the conservative wing of Congress, which had opposed the treaty, the administration acknowledged in November that as much as 85 billion dollars will be put toward the modernization of U.S. nuclear facilities and other nuclear-related purposes over the next 10 years.

In this regard, Haruko Moritaki, 71, co-chair of the Hiroshima Alliance for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, a Hiroshima-based citizens’ group, is cautious about the price paid for ratification of the treaty. “Ratification could lead to the expansion of nuclear arms rather than nuclear disarmament,” she said.

Kazumi Mizumoto, vice-president of the Hiroshima Peace Institute at Hiroshima City University, judges that the ratification of the treaty was vital for the United States to maintain a trusting relationship with Russia, even if difficult concessions had to be made. “Now that the United States has ratified the treaty,” he said, “it can move on to other goals, including ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and further reductions in nuclear weapons. To achieve such goals, more efforts by Hiroshima and the international community are essential.”

(Originally published on December 24, 2010)