The Communiqué released on 18 April 2023 following the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Nagano, Japan failed to present any new or concrete ideas for moving towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. When the G7 leaders meet in Hiroshima next month, they must do better.
The G7 states have a responsibility to reduce nuclear dangers through action, considering that the group comprises three nuclear-armed states (France, the UK and the US), two states hosting nuclear weapons (Italy and Germany) and two states relying on nuclear weapons in their security policies (Canada and Japan).
Today’s foreign ministers communiqué fails to live up to that responsibility. The ministers note the current harsh security environment, and criticise Russia's nuclear rhetoric, its threat to station nuclear weapons in Belarus and China's development of its nuclear arsenal. But they neglect to acknowledge how their own nuclear weapons policies, including stationing U.S. nuclear weapons, modernisation of their arsenals and the threat to use these weapons implicit in their nuclear doctrines, also undermine global security.
While the communique mentions the nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused "unprecedented devastation and immense human suffering," it does nothing to eliminate nuclear weapons and the suffering they cause.
Instead, the communiqué refers to an “understanding that nuclear weapons, for as long as they exist, should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war and coercion” as the basis for the G7’s security policies. This public justification of nuclear deterrence policy, or an affirmation of the alleged utility of nuclear weapons, comes from a US-UK-France joint working paper at the 2022 NPT Review Conference claiming that they are “responsible” nuclear weapon states, and should not appear in any declaration coming out of the Summit in Hiroshima. Including it would be an affront to those who survived the bombings and those who continue to live with the health impacts to this day.
When the G7 leaders meet in May, all eyes will be on them. Reports indicate the G7 leaders have committed to meet with atomic bomb survivors, the hibakusha, in Hiroshima. If the leaders fail to commit to do much more on disarmament than what is in this communique, it will be an insult to the hibakusha and what they have been through. The call of the hibakusha is clear - we need to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons by joining the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Instead of another empty statement, the current nuclear risk level demands real action. Unlike the "Hiroshima Action Plan" cited in the communique, the Vienna Action Plan agreed by the states parties to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons last June has 50 concrete steps to achieve nuclear disarmament and nuclear justice.
In Hiroshima, the G7 leaders must formally acknowledge the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, condemn all threats to use nuclear weapons, agree to end all stationing of nuclear weapons in third countries (including Italy and Germany) and engage Russia to cancel its plans to do so in Belarus. Finally, they must commit to a concrete, credible plan for engaging all nuclear-armed states in talks to eliminate nuclear weapons and make good on the commitment the G7 countries made to do so under Article VI of the NPT.
ICAN is organising a major youth summit and parliamentary conference in Hiroshima next week to bring young people and parliamentarians from G7 countries together to draft and present their demands to G7 leaders.