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Speech by Mr. Tadatoshi, Mayor of Hiroshima and President of Mayors for Peace at the European Parliament, Brussels. January 2005.
Mr. Chairman, it is a great honour for me to speak here at your invitation and attempt to do justice to the aspirations of the atomic bombing survivors of my city.
To the survivors, it is incomprehensible that the world continues to accept the terror of the atomic bomb. The Cold War was a struggle over the course of civilization, and the nuclear arms race put the very survival of civilization on the line. In 2005, the Cold War is long over, and yet a nuclear trance still holds sway in our minds. How can we snap out of this trance and save ourselves before it is too late?
Let us be under no illusion. If we do not wake up and take decisive action now, other cities will undoubtedly fall victim to nuclear attack. We must change the course we are on, and I firmly believe that Europe has an historic role to play in leading humanity toward a nuclear-weapon-free future.
In the struggle against nuclear weapons, true leadership flows from pursuing the proper objective: abolition. ‘Leadership’ that excuses the double standard inherent in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will never control proliferation. Today we are being buffeted by a whirlwind arising from decades of neglect of the treaty’s disarmament obligations. True leadership hungers for a nuclear-weapon-free world. True leadership works tirelessly to overcome all obstacles. True leadership does not quietly tolerate the nuclear threat.
What prevents Europe from exercising true leadership?
The European Union counts two nuclear-weapon states among its members. Are these states providing leadership on nuclear disarmament? Of course, the former and current nuclear superpowers have the lion’s share of arms to disarm, but does that exonerate the lesser other nuclear powers? You insist on waiting until U.S. and Russian levels approach yours, but are you really pressing them to get there faster and irreversibly? Or are you sheltering them from international pressure to fulfil their obligations?
Most members of the European Union are also members of NATO. Leaving aside the larger question of why NATO did not go the way of the Warsaw Pact, are you aware that NATO plans to rely on nuclear weapons ‘for the foreseeable future?’ Article VI of the NPT does not call for nuclear disarmament after the foreseeable future. How can NATO pursue in good faith a future it cannot even foresee? Let’s be honest. The United States and NATO are refusing to foresee a future without nuclear weapons, and theirs is not the future we want. My impression is that this great parliament has on several occasions, most recently last February, made it quite clear that it prefers a nuclear-weapon-free future
Here let me take a moment to express the gratitude of Hiroshima , Nagasaki, the Mayors for Peace network, and disarmament campaigners the world over for the encouragement you gave our campaign when it was just getting up on its feet. Thanks to you, we can truly say that the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki no longer stand alone. Mayors for Peace had one of the largest NGO delegations at the Preparatory Committee meeting last April. This coming May we intend to outdo ourselves with a delegation of Mayors one hundred strong, accompanied by an equal number of other city representatives. As we go forward, the continued support of EU Parliamentarians means a great deal to us.
Our sincere desire is to create the political context for a diplomatic breakthrough. The five-year horizon of the review process is crippling the ability of the states parties to really tackle the non-proliferation/disarmament challenge. A great edifice needs to be built, but the step-by-step approach is like designing and building one floor at a time without considering the next and having never considered the project as a whole. No architect would endorse such an erratic approach. One would have to wonder if the builder really cared about finishing the job.
The entire ‘construction project’ has to be, at the very least, sketched out in advance, and everyone has to be working off of the same drawings. When Mayors for Peace advances its 2020 Vision, we are not attempting to force the world into some lockstep march toward our vision of ‘nuclear disarmament.’ We say, “Take five years, if you need it. Plan out the process, then take twice that time to implement the plan.” We chose this long timeframe so that no one could doubt that, given the requisite political will, there would be no physical or economic impediments to getting the job done on schedule. So it boils down to one question, “Shall we begin?”
That was the question the United States Conference of Mayors answered so decisively last year. On the way here from Japan , I had a chance to stop in Washington to thank the U.S. Mayors for the leadership they have shown. I told them that around the world today, mayors are endorsing the resolution they adopted and are thereby calling on their own Heads of Government to, and I quote, “support a decision by the 2005 NPT Review Conference to commence negotiations on the elimination and prohibition of nuclear weapons and related materials.” The US contingent of our one-hundred-strong international delegation to New York will be led by the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, my new, good friend, Donald Plusquellic, Mayor of Akron, Ohio.
Membership in Mayors for Peace is expanding rapidly around the world, but nowhere more rapidly than in Europe . From 110 countries and regions, we now have more than 700 city members, and EU countries account for just under half the total. We intend to have one thousand members by May.
Mr. Chairman, European foreign and security policy should make it absolutely clear that Europe wants nothing more than to liberate the world from the tyranny and the insanity of the nuclear threat. You must make it clear that Europe will always stand with those who are ready to move effectively and comprehensively toward the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world. Ideally, European nations or the European Union as a whole could do at the multilateral and international level what Mayors for Peace is doing at the city and national level, recruiting and campaigning actively to achieve that goal by 2020.
If Europe wholeheartedly adopts such an attitude, there is not the slightest doubt in my mind that it would find like-minded friends everywhere. Your worthy efforts to stem nuclear proliferation would meet with tremendous cooperation worldwide. If Europe affirms through action the intended transitory nature of the NPT’s double standard, you will make the decisive contribution to realizing the only acceptable single standard: a world made up entirely of non-nuclear weapon states.
Mr. Chairman, the struggle to abolish nuclear weapons is the moral equivalent of the 19th century struggle to abolish slavery. Our campaign is not a partisan effort to gain political advantage for any human subgroup. We are sincerely attempting to protect our children and their children from experiences of horror and misery that only A-bomb survivors can imagine. This august body has resolved to support the campaign. Please resolve now, as some of the most powerful human individuals on this planet, to do everything in your power to ensure that your grandchildren and mine will think of nuclear weapons, if they think of them at all, as relics of a dark, barbaric past.
Thank you very much for this opportunity to speak to the representatives of European community.