“Hiroshima Report”: 31 nations rated on nuclear disarmament

North Korea scores lowest in all areas: Russia, China also fared poorly

by Daigo Kanezashi, Staff Writer

On April 7 Hiroshima Prefecture released its second “Hiroshima Report,” which rates 31 nations in three areas: nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the safe management of nuclear materials. For the second year in a row, North Korea scored lowest in every area. Of the five nuclear powers, Russia and China, which have taken passive stances on nuclear disarmament, fared poorly. Japan came in at only 17th on the safe management of nuclear materials.

The number of nations rated was increased from 19 to 31 for this report, and consideration was given to achieving a balance among regions. By group, the nations represented the five nuclear powers recognized by the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), four de facto nuclear states, and 22 non-nuclear nations. The prefecture contracted the research out to the Japan Institute of International Affairs, a Tokyo-based think tank, which added or subtracted points based on each nation’s activities in 2013 in the areas evaluated. The number of possible points varied depending on whether or not the nation possessed nuclear weapons and the area being rated, but all scores were shown as percentages representing each country’s scores against a perfect score.

With regard to nuclear disarmament, countries were evaluated based on the number of nuclear weapons in their stockpiles and their activities in the United Nations General Assembly. Of the five nuclear powers (94 points possible), Russia, which possesses 8,500 nuclear warheads, scored lowest at 10.6 percent. China, which has boosted its nuclear capability, came in at 11.7 percent, while the U.S. scored 21.3 percent.

All of the four de facto nuclear nations (91 points possible) scored lower than the five nuclear powers, scoring less than 10 percent. North Korea, which conducted its third nuclear test in February of last year, had more points deducted than added, ending up at minus 7.7 percent. Israel was also in the negative range at minus 1.1 percent.

Of the 22 non-nuclear nations (39 points possible) that were rated, New Zealand, which was behind the effort to issue a statement at the United Nations opposing the use of nuclear weapons, scored the highest at 71.8 percent. Austria, which led a high-level meeting at the United Nations, and Switzerland, which has actively pursued collaboration with civil society, tied for second at 67.9 percent.

Japan, which ranked first in nuclear disarmament last time, was marked down for its reliance on the nuclear umbrella of the U.S. and came in fifth. In the area of nuclear non-proliferation, Japan came in fourth, in part because the government has been negotiating a nuclear energy agreement with India, which is not a party to the NPT. Because Japan has large stockpiles of plutonium resulting from nuclear power generation, it ranked 17th in safe management of nuclear materials.

Nations were rated in three additional areas for this year’s report and were marked down for carrying out nuclear tests and for reliance on nuclear deterrence. As a result, scores in this report cannot be compared directly with the previous year’s scores. The report is scheduled to be issued once more in fiscal year 2015. The prefecture has said it will then consider whether or not to issue further reports.

(Originally published on April 8, 2014)