G7 Hiroshima Summit backtracks on norm against nuclear weapons

NoFirstUse Global will push on to the NPT, G20 Delhi Summit and UN General Assembly to affirm and implement the norm

Leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and USA, who met in Hiroshima for the G7 Summit from May 19-21, adopted the G7 Leaders’ Hiroshima Vision on Nuclear Disarmament which reaffirmed commitments to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, criticized Russia and China for their nuclear weapons policies, but failed to commit the G7 countries to any new measures to reduce nuclear threats or advance nuclear disarmament.  

Worse, the Hiroshima Vision backtracks from the statement made at the G20 Bali Summit in November last year by the G20 Leaders (which includes all of the G7 Leaders) that ‘The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”

Calls by civil society including NoFirstUse Global for the G7 leaders to reaffirm and begin implementing the Bali statement appeared to fall on deaf ears in Hiroshima.

NoFirstUse Global had gathered endorsements from over 1000 legislators, youth, academics/experts, religious leaders and civil society leaders from G7 and other countries for a declaration, Nuclear Taboo from Norm to Law, calling for such action. NoFirstUse representatives presented the Declaration and list of endorsers to the Foreign Ministry of Japan – host of the G7 Summit – and to a cross-party meeting of parliamentarians in the Diet (Japanese parliament) in Tokyo, and to media and civil society observers of the G7 Summit in Hiroshima.

Despite this, the Hiroshima Vision statement backtracks on the Bali statement weakening the norm against nuclear weapons. Instead of affirming that “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible” (without exception or caveat), the Hiroshima Vision says only that “…threats by Russia of nuclear weapon use … in the context of its aggression against Ukraine are inadmissible.”

In addition, the Hiroshima Vision notes that “security policies are based on the understanding that nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression and prevent war and coercion.”

“In essence the Hiroshima Vision implies (incorrectly) that it is perfectly “admissible” to threaten nuclear weapon use for defensive purposes and to deter aggression and prevent war and coercion,” said Aaron Tovish, NoFirstUse Global Steering Committee Member in Japan for the Summit. “Many of Russia’s string of nuclear threats have been couched in this language, and as have many of the US’s past nuclear threats.”

“If we look at recent inter-governmental statements on the inadmissibility of threat or use of nuclear weapons, the G7’s Hiroshima Vision is so sub-standard it would not even ‘win’ a bronze medal,” says Mr Tovish. “Gold medal would go to the Vienna Declaration of TPNW States Parties in which they “condemn unequivocally any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances. Silver medal would go to the Bali Declaration of the G20 which says that “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.” Bronze medal would go to India and China for their no-first-use policies.” See Neither Gold, Silver nor Bronze: G7’s SUBstandard performance in Hiroshima, by Aaron Tovish.

NoFirstUse Global is not giving up on implementation of the G20 affirmation that “The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible.”  We will continue to accept endorsements for Nuclear Taboo from Norm to Law in order to also present it to Preparatory Meeting of States Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in Vienna (August), G20 Summit in Delhi (September) and the UN General Assembly in October.