G7 Hiroshima Declaration calls for ‘world without nuclear weapons’
HIROSHIMA – Agence France-Presse
AFP photoU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and G7 foreign ministers on April 11 called for a “world without nuclear weapons,” citing North Korea’s saber-rattling as a key challenge to achieving that goal.
“We reaffirm our commitment to seeking a safer world for all and to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that promotes international stability,” the group said in their “Hiroshima Declaration,” after a landmark visit to the Japanese city’s atomic bomb memorial.
“This task is made more complex by the deteriorating security environment in a number of regions, such as Syria and Ukraine, and, in particular by North Korea’s repeated provocations,” it added.
On April 9, Pyongyang said it had successfully tested an engine designed for an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) that would “guarantee” an eventual nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland.
It was the latest in a series of claims by North Korea of significant breakthroughs in both its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Kerry said that Washington was ready to “ratchet up” pressure on an increasingly aggressive North Korea but remained open to negotiations if Pyongyang scraps its nuclear weapon development.
“I would like to see a few measures we were not able to get into the (Security Council) resolution implemented, depending on what actions the North decides to take,” Kerry said.
“So it is still possible we will ratchet up even more depending on the actions” of North Korea, Kerry said. “But we have made it clear... we are prepared to negotiate a peace treaty” on the Korean peninsula.
“It all depends on the North making the decision that they will negotiate on de-nuclearization. We are waiting for that opportunity.”
Kerry, meanwhile, called his visit to a memorial to victims of the 1945 U.S. nuclear attack on Hiroshima “gut-wrenching” and said it was a reminder of the need to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons.
The first U.S. secretary of state to visit Hiroshima, Kerry said U.S. President Barack Obama also wanted to travel to the city in southern Japan but he did not know whether the leader’s complex schedule would allow him to do so when he visits the country for a G7 summit in May.
Kerry toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum, whose haunting displays include photographs of badly burned victims, the tattered and stained clothes they wore and statues depicting them with flesh melting from their limbs.
“It is a stunning display. It is a gut-wrenching display,” he said. “It is a reminder of the depth of the obligation everyone of us in public life carries ... to create and pursue a world free from nuclear weapons,” he told a news conference.
The ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States laid white wreaths at a cenotaph to the victims of the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing, which reduced the city to ashes and killed some 140,000 people by the end of that year.
While he is not the highest-ranking U.S. official to have toured the museum and memorial park, a distinction that belongs to then-U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in 2008, Kerry is the most senior executive branch official to visit.
“Everyone in the world should see and feel the power of this memorial. It is a stark, harsh, compelling reminder not only of our obligation to end the threat of nuclear weapons, but to rededicate all our effort to avoid war itself,” the chief U.S. diplomat wrote in a guest book.
G7 foreign ministers also pledged support for the US-led coalition to “intensify and accelerate” its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.
“Terrorism is an urgent global security threat that requires international collaboration and unified responses,” they said in a statement.
“We strongly support the [Global] Coalition’s resolve to intensify and accelerate the campaign against” ISIL in Iraq and Syria.