(2) Commitment to Achieving a World without Nuclear Weapons
(2) Commitment to Achieving a World without Nuclear Weapons
A) Approaches toward a world without nuclear weapons
According to the preamble of the NPT, states parties “[declare] their intention to achieve at the earliest possible date the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to undertake effective measures in the direction of nuclear disarmament, [and urge] the co-operation of all States in the attainment of this objective.” Article VI of the Treaty stipulates that “[e]ach of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”
As mentioned in the previous Hiroshima Reports, no country openly opposes the goal of the total elimination of nuclear weapons or the vision of a world without nuclear weapons. Their commitment to nuclear disarmament has been reiterated in various fora, including the NPT review process and the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). However, such statements do not necessarily mean that nuclear-armed states are actively pursuing realization of a world without nuclear weapons. Owing in part to this, the stalemate in nuclear disarmament continued again in 2021.
In July 2021, the five NWS held a regular meeting on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, which they call a “P5 meeting” as they are also permanent members of the UN Security Council (P5). At the First Committee of the UNGA in October, France, speaking on behalf of the five NWS, stated, “We support the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.” The NWS also summarized the result of the meeting as following:6
➢ We attach great importance to the dialogue on doctrines and nuclear policies as means of strengthening predictability, confidence and mutual understanding within the P5 and as a concrete risk reduction measure. The P5 members have reaffirmed their intention to organize a dedicated side event at the Review conference and their desire to pursue exchanges on doctrines.
➢ We value the work currently underway on strategic risk reduction, a topic of high value for the NPT Review Conference, and reaffirm our readiness to work on this issue in the long-term.
➢ Regarding the FMCT, our position remains to support the negotiation of a multilateral, internationally and effectively verifiable nondiscriminatory treaty, banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices (FMCT), in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), on a consensus basis and with the participation of all countries involved.
➢ The second edition of the glossary of key nuclear terms is almost finalized. The P5 will highlight the benefits of the work undertaken on the glossary, which is an important transparency and confidence building measure that can help enhance mutual understanding on respective nuclear policies.
➢ The P5 reaffirms its support to the objectives of the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone, and its availability to deepen exchanges with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member-states pertaining to the Bangkok treaty.
➢ Regarding the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the P5 recalls the need to strengthen the [third] pillar of the NPT, and remains engaged to broaden access to nuclear technologies and to support the role of nuclear energy in the energy transition. Work is underway in Vienna to prepare joint P5 deliverables for the Review conference.
The five NWS also convened a P5 meeting in December 2021. According to a joint communique, they “reaffirmed their enduring commitment to the NPT across all three pillars, and their unconditional support for its universalisation.” They also “reaffirmed their commitment under the NPT to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. They support the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.” In addition, the five NWS “reviewed progress achieved concerning the different workstreams under the P5 Process in preparation for the 10th NPT Review Conference,”7 stating as follows:
➢ They exchanged updates on their respective nuclear doctrines and policies and reiterated their commitment to the ongoing discussions in this area that contribute to strengthening predictability, confidence and mutual understanding among the NWS. In this regard, they consider this workstream as a tangible risk reduction measure, and reaffirmed their willingness to pursue these discussions, as well as to host a dedicated side-event on nuclear doctrines and policies at the Review Conference;
➢ They recognized their responsibility to work collaboratively to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict. They intend to build on their fruitful work on strategic risk reduction within the P5 Process in the course of the next NPT review cycle, in order to reduce the likelihood of nuclear weapons use…;
➢ They endorsed the second edition of the P5 Glossary of Key Nuclear Terms, which contributes to enhancing mutual trust and understanding among the NWS. They decided to submit the Glossary as a P5 working paper to the 10th NPT Review Conference and hold a side-event during the Conference;
➢ They reaffirmed their commitment to the objectives of the Nuclear-Weapon- Free-Zones, including the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone, and recalled the importance of advancing discussions between the NWS and the ASEAN countries on the Protocol to the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon- Free-Zone Treaty. They also recalled their support to the establishment of a Middle-East zone free of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery;
➢ They reiterated their support for the negotiation of a non-discriminatory, multilateral and internationally and effectively verifiable Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)…on the basis of the Shannon mandate and with the participation of all countries in the Conference on Disarmament;
➢ They stressed the shared benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the need to strengthen this pillar of the NPT.
The nuclear weapon states also all individually expressed their views on nuclear disarmament at the First Committee of the UNGA and other forums.
For instance, China emphasized that it “follows a nuclear strategy of selfdefense, supports the ultimate comprehensive prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, and supports the establishment of a nuclear-weapon- free world.” It also stated, “China advocates that nuclear disarmament should be a fair and reasonable process of gradual and balanced reduction on the basis of maintaining global strategic stability and undiminished security for all.”8
Russia said, “We share the commitment to the noble goal of achieving a nuclear-free world. The question that needs to be answered is how to make progress toward this goal without undermining global stability and deepening the divide among States. We firmly believe that real progress towards nuclear disarmament can be achieved only through consensus-based decisions, by taking calibrated step-by- step measures, and keeping with the principle of equal and indivisible security as well as the need to maintain strategic balance.”9
France stated, “[It] has presented a positive nuclear disarmament agenda, as part of a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament, contributing to tangible progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.”10
The United Kingdom also reaffirmed its policies in its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy: “We remain committed to the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons. We continue to work for the preservation and strengthening of effective arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation measures, taking into account the prevailing security environment. We are strongly committed to full implementation of the NPT in all its aspects, including nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy; there is no credible alternative route to nuclear disarmament.”11
While it did not mentioned its commitment to the elimination of nuclear weapons at the First Committee of the UNGA, the United States along with Russia stated in their joint statement issued at a bilateral summit in June 2021, “[W]e reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”12 In addition, at the U.K.-U.S. summit meeting in June, they stated, “As we maintain close alignment on our nuclear deterrence and modernisation programs, we reaffirm our commitment to effective arms control and nuclear security, and to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”13
In the meantime, among the nuclear-armed states outside the NPT, India stated, “[It] is firmly committed to the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament. India’s proposal for a step-by-step approach for the total elimination of nuclear weapons … calls on the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate a Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention.”14 On the other hand, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Ahmed Khan implied that his nation’s nuclear deterrent had prevented a breakout of a war between Pakistan and India, but said, “I am completely against nuclear arms. … The moment there’s a settlement in Kashmir, I believe the two neighbours will live as civilized people. We will not need to have this nuclear deterrence.” 15
Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament (CEND)
The United States, which argues that the international security environment needs to be improved in order to promote nuclear disarmament, launched the Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament (CEND) Working Group (CEWG) in 2019. Forty-three countries (including NWS, NNWS, non-NPT states, NAM countries, U.S. allies, and Treaty on the Prevention of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) signatories) participated in the CEND’s Leadership Group Meeting in September 2020.
While little has been reported on CEND’s progress since the Biden administration took office, U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood, Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, stated, “The United States continues to fully support CEND – and its efforts to identify constructive and actionable proposals for progress on nuclear disarmament.” He elaborated that the three subgroups addressing the following issues, with the support of non-governmental expert facilitators, were making steady progress in addressing the tasks, and would finalize recommendations from each respective subgroup late in 2022 and release their findings early in 2023, in accordance with the timeline discussed at the November 2020 plenarymeeting:16
➢ Reducing perceived incentives for states to retain, acquire, or increase their holdings of nuclear weapons and increasing incentives to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons (co-chaired by the Netherlands and Morocco);
➢ Mechanisms to bolster nonproliferation efforts and build confidence in and further advance nuclear disarmament (co-chaired by South Korea and the United States); and
➢ Interim measures to reduce the risks associated with nuclear weapons (cochaired by Finland and Germany).
Regarding approaches to nuclear disarmament, while the five NWS have argued for a step-by-step approach, NNWS allied with the United States have proposed a “progressive approach” based on building- block principles, and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries have called for launching negotiations on a phased program for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified time frame.
At the 2021 UNGA, the New Agenda Coalition (NAC: Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand and South Africa) stated, “The NAC was established to address the continued threat to humanity posed by the possession of nuclear weapons, and the belief that the only protection against this existential threat is their total elimination. Achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons remains the NAC’s primary goal.” It also stated, “The NAC advocates for the implementation of concrete, transparent, mutually reinforcing, verifiable and irreversible nuclear disarmament measures and the fulfilment of NPT obligations and commitments. Finally, the NAC added, “The global security environment is not an excuse for inaction, but rather, it reinforces the need for urgency. What is lacking is not favourable conditions, but political will and determination.”17
The NAM countries also criticized the situation surrounding nuclear disarmament and stated, “NAM is deeply concerned by this dismal state of affairs, as a result of non-compliance by NWS and the threats it poses to the nonproliferation regime and international architecture of security. … NAM welcomes multilateral efforts towards nuclear disarmament and the total elimination of nuclear weapons. … NAM stresses the importance of enhancing public awareness about the threat posed to humanity by nuclear weapons.”18 In their UNGA resolution on nuclear disarmament, the NAM also “[reiterated] its call upon the Conference on Disarmament to establish, as soon as possible and as the highest priority, an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament in 2022 and to commence negotiations on a phased programme of nuclear disarmament leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons within a specified framework of time.”19
The NNWS allied with the United States jointly stated, “Our approach takes into account the international security environment without losing sight of the risks posed by nuclear weapons. Indeed, the NPT has always been an instrument for pursuing ambitious aims whilst taking into account geopolitical realities. That goal has not changed: to advance and achieve a world without nuclear weapons.” They also proposed “pragmatic inclusive measures, including: universalization of the NPT, entry into force of the [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)], negotiation in the [CD] of a treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, cooperation on nuclear disarmament verification, measures aimed at strategic and nuclear risk reduction, a reaffirmation or tightening of existing negative security assurances, greater transparency on nuclear arsenals, and an inclusive dialogue on nuclear doctrines.”20
In 2019, Sweden proposed a “Steppingstone approach,” in which it stated “the need for ‘actionable’ implementation measures.” Since then, it has led the “Stockholm Initiative” based on that approach.
At the third Ministerial Meeting held in Amman (Jordan) in January 2021, 16 participating countries (Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland) called upon the NPT states parties to make progress on the road towards a world free of nuclear weapons, in accordance with the press release by the co-host countries supporting the “stepping stones” contained as 22 concrete proposals agreed in the Berlin meeting in 2020.21 In addition, 15 countries (Argentina, Canada, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, Norway, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland), which participated in the fourth Ministerial Meeting in Madrid (Spain) in July 2021, “renewed their call for all States that possess nuclear weapons to show leadership, address and reduce nuclear risks and promote nuclear disarmament through the adoption of significant measures to meet the commitments taken on under the NPT.”22
Furthermore, in July 2021, 21 countries issued a working paper for the NPT Review Conference, titled “A Nuclear Risk Reduction Package,” in which they proposed a number of concrete measures regarding: declaratory commitments as a political signal; a renewed commitment by the NWS and expanded risk dialogues; supporting measures by all States parties; research, analysis, education and awareness; and establishment of a process.23
In December, the fifth Ministerial Conference was held, and 18 participating countries (Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, along with the co-hosts Sweden and Germany) agreed to continue to work together for the 10th NPT Review Conference (RevCon), and adopted a joint ministeriallevel press statement.
B) Voting behavior on UNGA resolutions on nuclear disarmament proposals by Japan, NAC and NAM
In 2021, the UNGA again adopted the following resolutions titled: “Joint courses of action and future-oriented dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons”24 proposed by Japan and others; “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”25 proposed by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC); and “Nuclear disarmament”26 proposed by NAM members. The voting behavior of the countries surveyed in this project on the three resolutions at the UNGA in 2021 is presented below.
➢ “Joint courses of action and futureoriented dialogue towards a world without nuclear weapons”—158 in favor (Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the UAE, the United Kingdom, the United States and others); 4 against (China, North Korea, Russia and Syria); 27 abstentions (Austria, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, South Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa and others)
➢ “Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments”—140 in favor (Austria, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, the UAE and others); 34 against (Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Israel, North Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and others); 15 abstentions (Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan and others)
➢ “Nuclear disarmament”—124 in favor (Brazil, Chile, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the UAE and others); 41 against (Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and others); 22 abstentions (Austria, India, Japan, North Korea, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sweden and others)
The resolution proposed by Japan in 2021, like the previous ones, was simplified compared to the resolutions adopted before 2018. It proposed “guidelines for joint action,” and listed measures that could be taken in a relatively short period of time, such as improving transparency and confidence-building by NWS, reducing nuclear risks, declaring a moratorium on the production of weapons-grade fissile materials, signing and ratifying the CTBT, contributing to nuclear disarmament verification, and promoting disarmament and non-proliferation education. The resolution in 2021 also emphasized “the necessity for all States parties to comply with all of their obligations regarding nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation under the [NPT],” and reaffirmed “the importance of implementing commitments contained in the Final Documents” adopted at the NPT Review (and Extension) Conference in 1995, 2000 and 2010.
Unlike the other two resolutions on nuclear disarmament mentioned above, two NWS— the United Kingdom and the United States—voted in favor of this resolution proposed by Japan as in the previous year, and even became cosponsors. In addition, several Western NNWS that abstained on the previous year’s resolution voted in favor of the 2021 resolution. However, the resolution was criticized by some countries. For instance, Austria argued, as reasons for abstaining, that it was “worried about attempts to replace established consensus language with new formulations that backtrack on existing commitments agreed upon during past NPT Review Conferences.” It also mentioned that, “Language contained in General Assembly resolutions cannot provide a blueprint for any Review Conference outcome – such an outcome is to be negotiated during the conference.”27 Furthermore, the resolution was criticized because, similar to the one adopted in 2020, it continued not to use the expression “deep concern” but rather employed the weakened expression “recognizing” regarding the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences that would result from the use of nuclear weapons.” The draft resolution was put to a split vote over 18 paragraphs at the First Committee.
C) Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons
Since the 2015 NPT RevCon, the Humanitarian Group, which focuses on the humanitarian dimensions of nuclear weapons, has emphasized the significance of starting negotiations on a legally binding instrument on prohibiting nuclear weapons. The result was the adoption of the TPNW in 2017.
At the 2021 UNGA, countries mainly belonging to the Humanitarian Group, as in the previous year, proposed a resolution titled “Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons.”28 The resolution, among others, stated that it “highlights the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and calls on all states to prevent any use or proliferation of nuclear weapons and to achieve nuclear disarmament.” The voting behavior of countries surveyed in this project on this resolution is as follows:
➢ 148 in favor (Austria, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, the UAE); 12 against (France, Israel, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and others); 29 abstentions (Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Germany, South Korea, North Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Turkey and others)
Furthermore, voting behavior on the resolution titled “Ethical imperatives for a nuclear-weapon-free world,”29 which “calls upon all states to acknowledge the humanitarian impacts and risks of a nuclear weapon detonation and makes a series of declarations about the inherent immorality of nuclear weapons underlying the need for their elimination,” led by the Humanitarian Group countries, was:
➢ 135 in favor (Austria, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria, the UAE and others); 37 against (Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and others), 14 abstentions (China, India, Japan, North Korea, Pakistan, Sweden, Switzerland and others)
NWS have not been receptive to humanitarian issues in nuclear disarmament from the outset. While the United Kingdom and the United States attended the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in 2014, NWS kept their distance from these issues, especially when the Humanitarian Group began to officially pursue a legal prohibition of nuclear weapons. For example, NWS did not use the term “humanitarian” in their statements made at the 2021 UNGA First Committee.
The UNGA resolutions on nuclear disarmament led by Japan in 2017 and 2018 were criticized by some NNWS, including the Humanitarian Group, and civil society for the removal of the word “any” in the resolutions, which in the 2016 resolution text read: “[e]xpressing deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons.” They called the removal an unacceptable step backward. In addition, the sentence—“deep concerns about the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons continue to be a key factor that underpins efforts by all States towards a world free of nuclear weapons”—which had been used in the 2018 resolution— was not included in the 2021 resolution, as was also the case in 2020.
6 “Statement by France as Coordinator of the P5,” General Debate, First Committee, UNGA, October 7, 2021.
7 “Final Joint Communique,” P5 Conference Paris, December 3, 2021, https://www.mid.ru/en/foreign_ policy/news/-/assetpublisher/cKNonkJE02Bw/content/id/4983321.
8 “Statement by China,” Clusters I to IV, First Committee, UNGA, October 13, 2021.
9 “Statement by Russia,” General Debate, First Committee, UNGA, October 6, 2021.
10 “Statement by France,” General Debate, First Committee, UNGA, October 5, 2021.
11 United Kingdom, Global Britain in a Competitive Age, p. 78.
12 “U.S.-Russia Presidential Joint Statement on Strategic Stability,” June 16, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statementsreleases/2021/06/16/u-s-russia-presidential-joint-statement-on-strategic-stability/.
13 “Joint Statement on the Visit to the United Kingdom of the Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., President of the United States of America at the Invitation of the Rt. Hon. Boris Johnson, M.P., the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland,” June 10, 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/10/joint-statement-on-the-visit-to-the-united-kingdom-of-the-honorable-joseph-r-biden-jr-president-of-the-united-states-of-america-at-the-invitation-of-thert-hon-boris-johnson-m-p-the-prime-min/.
14 “Statement by India,” General Debate, First Committee, UNGA, October 21, 2021.
15 Anwar Iqbal, “No Need for Nuclear Deterrence If Kashmir Dispute Resolved: PM,” Dawn, June 22, 2021, https://www.dawn.com/news/1630746.
16 Robert Wood, “Prevention of Nuclear War, Including All Related Matters: Nuclear Risk Reduction,” Remarks to the CD Plenary Thematic Debate on Agenda Item 2, May 18, 2021, https://geneva.usmission.gov/2021/05/18/ambassador-woods-remarks-to-the-cd-plenary-thematic-debate-on-agenda-item-2/.
17 “Statement by South Africa on behalf of the NAC,” First Committee, UNGA, October 11, 2021.
18 “Statement by Indonesia on behalf of the NAM,” First Committee, UNGA, October 4, 2021.
19 A/RES/76/46, December 6, 2021.
20 “Joint Statement by Italy on behalf of a group of countries,” Thematic One to Four, First Committee, UNGA, October 14, 2021.
21 “Press release by co-hosts of 3rd Ministerial Meeting of Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament,” January 6, 2021.
22 “Press release by co-hosts of 4th Ministerial Meeting of Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament,” July 5, 2021.
23 “A Nuclear Risk Reduction Package,” Working paper by the Stockholm Initiative, supported by Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, July 2021, https://www.government.se/4a2425/contentassets/690891c6d51244e188aa6e8f2677f57c/workingpapernuclearriskreduction_stockholminitiative_endorsed-by-21-states-july-2021.pdf.
24 A/RES/76/54, December 6, 2021.
25 A/RES/76/49, December 6, 2021.
27 “Austria – Explanation of Vote after the Vote Cluster 1 – Nuclear Weapons,” First Committee, UNGA, October 27, 2021, https://www.reachingcriticalwill.org/images/documents/Disarmament-fora/1com/1com21/eov/L59_Austria.pdf.
28 A/RES/76/30, December 6, 2021.
29 A/RES/76/25, December 6, 2021.