Former World Leaders Urge G7 to Get Nuclear Arms Control Back on Track
The Guardian covered an APLN-ELN joint statement titled “Protecting Nuclear Arms Control Is a Global Imperative.” Read the original article here.
A global array of former world leaders and defence ministers, nuclear experts and diplomats have called on the leaders of G7 countries at their meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, not to let progress on nuclear arms control continue to be the victim of growing geopolitical conflict, including the conflict between the west and Russia over Ukraine.
The Japanese prime minister, Fumio Kishida, who is from Hiroshima, chose the G7 venue to lend seriousness to his personal call to world leaders to at least agree a roadmap to resume nuclear arms control talks.
In February, Russia pulled out of the 2010 New Start treaty, a pact that sets limits on the deployed strategic nuclear arsenals of the world’s two largest nuclear powers, although Moscow said it would nevertheless abide by the limits for the moment.
Kishida intends to take world leaders arriving this week for the summit to the harrowing Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where they will see graphic depictions of the US attack in 1945.
An open letter signed by six former heads of state, 20 cabinet-level ministers and experts from 50 different countries including China, Russia and the US lends momentum to Kishida’s G7 theme by saying the world needs more nuclear arms control, not less.
The letter says: “United States-Russia strategic stability talks are in limbo and the New Start treaty, which has played an indispensable role in ensuring reciprocal security, is now in question.
“As the only existing nuclear arms control agreement between the United States and Russia, the world’s two largest nuclear-armed countries, the treaty’s collapse or expiration without a replacement would threaten a destabilising arms race.”
Worsening big-power competition is making nuclear war more likely, the leaders warn, and “failure to agree on a new nuclear arms control framework to replace New Start before it expires in February 2026 would also make it more difficult to bring China, France and the United Kingdom into multilateral arms control, as all three are not ready to consider limits on their nuclear arsenals until the United States and Russia bring down their nuclear stockpiles”.
The letter was organised by the European Leadership Network and Asia-Pacific Leadership Network and signed by former world leaders, including Ernesto Zedillo, the former president of Mexico, Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand and Ingvar Carlsson, the former prime minister of Sweden.
In Russia, the signatories include Alexei Arbatov, the director of the International Security Center at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations; Pavel Palazhchenko, the head of the international centre at the Gorbachev Foundation, and Sergey Rogov, who until March last year, was a member of the scientific council of the national security council and a former adviser to the Duma international affairs committee.
One of the most prominent signatories in China is Prof Chen Dongxiao, the president of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies. China has been clear in warning Russia not to use nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict, a threat that has repeatedly been made by Moscow, including by transferring nuclear weapons to Belarus.
UK signatories include the former head of MI6 John Scarlett, the former foreign secretaries Malcolm Rifkind and David Owen, as well as the former defence secretaries Des Browne and Tom King.
The 256 signatories acknowledge they all have different views about geopolitical competition but say “we all agree that it is long past time to start prioritising nuclear arms control and taking unilateral, bilateral and multilateral actions”.
The letter urges Russia and the US to compartmentalise nuclear arms control and isolate it from other disputes by confirming that they will not exceed the New Start limits on deployed nuclear forces, which thus far have not been violated, as well as agreeing to remove the obstacles to full implementation of their New Start obligations.
It also calls for the resumption of the work of the Bilateral Consultative Commission, the body that agrees details of US and Russian inspections of each others’ military sites under the terms of the New Start treaty. The body has not met for nearly two years.
Image: The Peace Memorial Park and the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima, where the G7 meeting is taking place. Photograph: Richard A Brooks/AFP/Getty Images