Jonathan Granoff: "For Reminding Us, Thank You, Hiroshima"

Keynote Speech from international symposium "Hiroshima Strives for Nuclear Abolition"

Jonathan Granoff: "For Reminding Us, Thank You, Hiroshima"

To the Hiroshima Peace Institute of Hiroshima City and Hiroshima Peace Media Center of the Chugoku Shimbum, please accept my gratitude for bringing us together here and for your service to advance greater understanding of the need to abolish nuclear weapons. It is a great honor to be here with my friend Mayor Akiba whose vision and passion has created the inspiring Mayors for Peace campaign. He represents a truly 21st century man--futuristic, visionary, inspiring, practical at both a local and global level, and integrated with his sense of inner peace.

Let us never forget that all external acts of violence begin with an inner state that violates our natural human capacity to live in harmony with nature and each other. May the peace we desire in this very fragile uncertain world emanate from the stability of hearts awake with compassion, love, courage, and proper respect for the sanctity of life. May we become the ones who carry the treasure of such hearts. Here in Hiroshima one can witness how from the ashes of horror a thriving, energetic, successful city has emerged. This reaffirms faith that such hearts are alive and well and can inspire the miraculous. Mayor Akiba and the initiative he has taken world-wide exemplifies this truth.

The people of Hiroshima and all of Japan have a moral right and duty to lead the world to a safer place. We will all benefit from following a proposition consistently expressed in many ways from this community: Nuclear weapons are inhumane and create a greater problem than any problem they seek to solve. Therefore, they must be abolished from the face of the earth.

Now, the people of America have a president courageous enough to affirm that the United States, because of what happened here, has a moral duty to work to achieve the security of a world free of nuclear weapons. We have come a distance in ideas; we must bring these aspirations into action.

We were all very lucky that the Cold War ended without ending civilization. But the sword of destruction created in another era still hangs over us all.

These devices of terror remain a legacy from World War II. They are reminiscent of Hitler's ovens; yet they are like ovens with wings, threatening not just six million people but six billion. No-one lives today without the threat of the annihilation of all they hold dear and the possibility that they may not ever be ancestors, that their children may not have a world in which to make the sacred human journey. There is no place in the world where the ominous threat of nuclear weapons cannot reach. We live in one room.

Also, nuclear weapons represent a paradox--the more the weapon is developed the less security is obtained. Those who would modernize these devices and thus seek to improve on their predictability and reliability unwittingly make their use more possible and thus make us all less secure. The more that the current nuclear weapon states modernize their weapons, the less confidence other countries have that the nuclear weapon states are serious about nuclear disarmament. This makes more likely that they will seek nuclear weapons in response. The conduct of the most powerful sets a standard that is copied. Modernization generates a cycle that stimulates proliferation.

It is an arrogant illusion to think that by accident, mechanical failure, or foolish human folly these weapons will never be used. Even under the best of circumstances mistakes can be made. General Lee Butler was US Commander of Strategic Nuclear Forces, with the day to day responsibility for operations, discipline, training of tens of thousands of crew members, the systems that they operated and the warheads those systems were designed to deliver. He said that after he studied deeply into the history of the incidents and the accidents of the nuclear age as they had been recorded by the U.S. and USSR "…it is more chilling than anything you can imagine." He recounted, "Missiles that blew up in their silos and ejected their nuclear warheads outside of the confines of the silo. B52 aircraft that collided with tankers and scattered nuclear weapons across the coast and into the offshore seas of Spain. A B52 bomber with nuclear weapons aboard that crashed in North Carolina, and on investigation it was discovered that on one of those weapons, 6 of the 7 safety devices that prevent a nuclear explosion had failed as a result of the crash. There are dozens of such incidents. Nuclear missile-laden submarines that experienced catastrophic accidents and now lie at the bottom of the ocean.”

The Cuban Missile Crisis gave the world 13 days to reach safety. How much time is enough to rectify human or mechanical error? How much time is there in a crisis between India and Pakistan, a computer hacker creating an illusion of attack, or a terrorist posing as a state actor? What threat to our security is possibly greater than the threat posed by the weapons themselves?

The greatest stimulant to nuclear weapons proliferation is the continued assertion of their unique value in the hands of the nine few states which deploy them. These are the U.S., France, China, Russia, and the U.K.--the five permanent members of the Security Council identified as Nuclear Weapons States (NWS) under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)--and three states which never signed the NPT--India, Pakistan, and Israel--and North Korea.

The current system in place to keep proliferation in check is inequitable, discriminatory and thus unstable. It is as if the Biological Weapons Convention said that no countries could use small pox or polio as a weapon but nine countries can use the plague as a weapon since they are so morally and politically responsible and advanced. Such incoherence would be patently unacceptable. Its inequity would breed contempt for the regime. Is such incoherence with respect to nuclear weapons any less destabilizing?

Universal legally verifiable elimination must be our collective goal. Any policies inconsistent with that compass point must be eschewed. We must question vigorously whether perpetual extended nuclear deterrence prevents progress on deep irreversible cuts in the arsenals and the achievement of a diminishing role for these weapons in policies, as well as other threat reducing steps advanced in the Japan and US sponsored UN General Assembly Resolution, "Renewed Determination Towards the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons."

It is not unreasonable for some in Japan to fear that even in this globalised, interdependent world there might be regional leaders crazy enough to seriously threaten or actually use nuclear weapons. For that reason it is necessary to maintain a strong military deterrence, particularly against North Korea, requiring a military alliance with the United States for some time. However, such protection does not require nuclear weapons. With respect to the shared security interests of Japan and the US, conventional weapons provide more than enough firepower. Japan has large defensive forces already and the U.S. has a bloated military capacity. The threats that are being faced from North Korea can be amply met without nuclear weapons. However, our approach should also be to dry up the reasons for the threats and change the political landscape. Brandishing the option to annihilate millions of innocent people does very little to plant the green trees of transparency, trust, verification, shared interests, and normalization in this landscape. Rather, nuclear weapons stimulate our worst fears, seek to make legitimate unacceptable conduct, and present a wall where bridges need to be built.

We presently have an opportunity to head down the path of nuclear abolition. If we do not seize this opportunity we may condemn ourselves to slip into a vortex that will drag us inexorably towards the nuclear abyss. That is why at this historical moment it is so very important that all of us speak out in a strong and powerful voice. We must be clear: It is time to abolish nuclear weapons. We do not want our security based on the threat to use them. Their indiscriminate effect upon innocent civilians renders them immoral. Their effect on the environment and countries not party to any conflict, as well as their overwhelming destructive force, renders them illegal. We do not believe our security should depend upon them. We must lower their political currency by denouncing them for what they are--immoral, illegal and dangerous. Japan, the one country that knows the empty face of the abyss, and an ally of the United States, at this moment will be an extremely effective voice.

Why is this so important?

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty comes up for review in May of 2010 and if there is not credible progress toward a nuclear weapons free world, the pursuit of which is an obligation under Article VI of the treaty, then the treaty could corrode and become ineffective in stemming proliferation. If the belief spreads that the nuclear weapons states are not serious about disarmament it is unlikely that the consensus upholding the NPT will remain stable. There will then be extremely powerful domestic pressures to join the club of nuclear haves. A cascade of proliferation could result. More states gaining nuclear weapons is simply unacceptably risky.

The United States and Russia have over 95% of the world's over 22,000 nuclear weapons. It will be necessary for them to come down to hundreds of nuclear weapons in order to bring the other states with nuclear weapons into disarmament negotiations. This level is far less than the approximately 1,500 on each side being contemplated presently. One hurdle to come down to lower numbers is the doctrine of counterforce, which includes the ability to strike an adversaries nuclear arsenal first. A no-first-use policy could help change this.

In the United States there are political and military leaders who hold firmly to a belief that nuclear weapons are good keepers of the peace and they are working hard to prevent the US from going down a path of nuclear weapons abolition. They consistently argue that if the US appears to be serious about getting to a world with zero nuclear weapons, this pursuit will stimulate Japan and other friends and allies of the US to themselves become nuclear weapons states. This absurd allegation must be openly rebutted. Japan must not be used by these pro-nuclear voices in the United States as an excuse to thwart progress on nuclear disarmament.

By working for multi-lateral nuclear disarmament, the US is not diminishing the security of its allies including Japan--rather it is enhancing such security. It is creating the conditions for verified nuclear disarmament by all States, including those which are of concern to Japan--in the North-East Asian region. Of course the achievement of a nuclear weapons free world will take some time to achieve. Japan should not have to wait until that time to diminish the nuclear threats in the region and simultaneously take steps to fulfill NPT commitments.

The establishment of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, which has the possibility of being established quite quickly, would provide regional security and be a significant step towards a nuclear-weapons-free world. A North-East Asian NWFZ has been proposed by Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, guarantees that nuclear weapons would not be used against the 3 territorial countries--Japan, South Korea and North Korea--and removal of the deployment and the threat of nuclear weapons being used from North-East Asia would make us all safer. Additionally, the Foreign Minister has wisely advocated no first use pledges for all nuclear weapons states. These are significant policy steps that should be supported strongly.

The achievement of a nuclear weapons free zone in North East Asia will build bridges between the States in a region. It will provide a regional security mechanism for dialogue and enhance cooperative security. Such efforts make more likely progress on fulfilling the disarmament commitments expressed in the recent Security Council Summit and especially the promise made under the NPT at its 2000 Review to ensure "A diminishing role for nuclear weapons in security policies to minimize the risk that these weapons ever be used and to facilitate the process of their total elimination." It helps fulfill commitments made under the NPT in 1995 to promote nuclear weapons free zones.

There are several routes before us:

--One is to continue to extol the abstract virtue of a nuclear weapons-free world and only pursue the incremental arms control steps that have already begun to their completion and then see what's next. This includes bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and negotiating a treaty stopping any further production of weapons grade fissile materials.

--A better choice would be to also promptly make clear that the only value a nuclear weapon has is to prevent it ever being used, that less is better and none is best. This posture of existential deterrence of course can only be an interim step. It must include a no-first-use pledge embodied in a formal Security Council resolution, but even this is a dangerous doctrine and cannot be a finalized norm. If powerful states still require nuclear weapons to deter their use against them why would a weak state in a dangerous neighborhood not invoke the same rationale to develop the weapon?

--The best route is to embody in law the norm against any use that has prevailed since Nagasaki. That could be done in a convention that renders use unacceptable and carefully builds the confidence in verification, monitoring, dismantlement, and all the other threat-reducing steps, into a cooperative law governed process. Secretary-General Ban put this route as his first principle in his five point agenda and circulated a model treaty to advance this route.

The argument against a convention is that it is premature and that the political and security environment is not ripe yet. If so, then we must evaluate policies and doctrines in light of what will make the environment appropriate for a convention, much as we have done with chemical and biological weapons. States which truly want to live in a nuclear weapons free world need to come together and convene a nuclear weapons convention preparatory conference. Japan has every good reason and capacity to help lead this process. We simply need not put off serious negotiations on elimination any longer. Mayor Akiba is correct in pushing for tangible commitments now. It is for all of us to generate the necessary political will for success.

In a post-Cold War world where we simply must build bridges of cooperation to protect the oceans, the climate and the economy, what place does the wall of nuclear weapons have? The Nobel Peace Laureates met last month in Berlin and celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall. They issued call to break down "the walls that stand in the way of a nuclear weapons free world by (among other policies):

--achieving a paradigm shift from counter-productive and excessive militarization to collective security based on cooperative initiatives to address global threats;

--fully implementing the non-proliferation and disarmament obligations under the NPT, and all other international agreements on nuclear weapons by all members of the international community;

--negotiating a new convention for the universal and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons”

The walls that divide us will fall because humanity is realizing that we are indeed one family with one shared destiny--cooperation or destruction. I thank the people of Hiroshima for giving us a message of hope, faith, energy, and a call for us together to remember our humanity.

Domo Arigato.