“Nuclear Weapons Convention needed to replace NPT” contends Ramesh Thakur in Hiroshima

by Miho Kuwajima, Staff Writer

Professor Ramesh Thakur, 59, distinguished fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada and former senior vice-rector of the United Nations University, gave a lecture entitled “NPT Regime Change: Has the Good Become the Enemy of the Best?” in Hiroshima on the evening of September 18. Organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Hiroshima Office, the lecture expressed Professor Thakur’s contention that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime has become “obsolete” and that a new international convention is necessary to abolish nuclear weapons.

The summary of the lecture is as follows:

Similar to the Chemical Weapons Convention, a nuclear weapons convention must be concluded to outlaw the possession and use of nuclear weapons by all actors. The current security system that depends on nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation is fast eroding.

Under the NPT, signed in 1968, the five countries that had already developed nuclear weapons to that point--the United States, Russia, Britain, France, and China--are permitted to possess nuclear weapons, but at the same time, they have a legal obligation to pursue nuclear disarmament. The five so-called nuclear-weapon states, however, have demanded nonproliferation but neglected their obligation to disarm.

Nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are inseparable. The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are the five NPT nuclear powers. The United Nations, therefore, cannot be held to account as a forum for promoting nuclear disarmament. Nuclear technologies have advanced, and the international situation has changed over the last 40 years. The NPT regime has passed its use-by date.

Nonproliferation via the NPT may have become the enemy of nuclear abolition. When the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd visited Japan in June this year, he announced the establishment of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. The government of Japan, as the only A-bombed nation, must play a leading role to create a new international framework to bring about a nuclear-free world.

(Originally published on September 20, 2008)