Endorsing a campaign by UK churches, Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima has stressed the crucial role of British citizens alongside others in helping to rid the world of nuclear weapons.
The Mayor’s statement came just days before the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which will take place 3 - 28 May 2010 in New York, USA.
Akiba declared: “There is a danger that we consider nuclear weapons to be simply an unfortunate fact of life we can do nothing about. This would be a grave mistake. Now is the time to map out the road to global zero. At the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference our governments must clearly demonstrate their stated commitment to the elimination of all nuclear weapons.”
The campaign, entitled Now is the Time, has invited people to sign an online petition (www.endnuclearweapons.org.uk) calling on all governments to demonstrate their commitment to a nuclear weapons-free world at the forthcoming conference.
The Churches are pressing for governments to put all bomb-grade material under international control and commit to making the use and possession of nuclear weapons illegal through a new Nuclear Weapons Convention.
Steve Hucklesby, Policy Adviser for the Methodist Church in Britain, commented: “Presidents Obama and Medvedev have signed an agreement to reduce their stockpiles of nuclear warheads. This reflects a growing public desire to see the brakes come off multilateral disarmament negotiations. We hope that the Review Conference will be an opportunity for our voices to be heard through the many non-governmental organisations that specialise in these matters.”
Mayor Akiba added: “I am delighted that Churches in the UK have contributed to the call for governments to commit to a world free of nuclear weapons. I hope the Churches in the UK will do everything in their power to mobilize their congregations to let the government know that they are ready to live in a world free of nuclear weapons.” In a letter to the British Methodist Church, he added that “Eliminating nuclear weapons from the world will be one of humanity’s greatest achievements”.
The alliance includes the Church of England, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the United Reformed Church, the International Affairs Department of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Scotland and the Archbishop of the Church in Wales.
Representatives of the World Council of Churches will be attending the NPT Review Conference and will present the campaign’s petition to the UK delegation to the conference.
In the sixty-five years since Hiroshima experienced the atomic bombing that made it synonymous with the disastrous effects of nuclear weapons, the city has continued to appeal for their abolition. Through Mayors for Peace, Hiroshima is working with 3,680 other cities to promote the 2020 Vision – a campaign for the abolition of nuclear weapons by the year 2020.